522 Module 3 Reflection – Online Learning Tools & Web 2.0

Online learning tools is a broad, fascinating and rapidly evolving topic that requires a fair bit of dedication to simply keep up with. The alternative may be a mere passing interest in Web 2.0 and the tools they make available for integration and use in online learning. Unfortunately, that leads to nothing short of a lifetime of playing catch-up. Personally, I find this to be a fascinating course of study; one that I’ve been following, more like obsessed with actually, long before beginning my EDTECH journey. The benefits to online learning as a system and resource seems quite obvious as not only does it break down physical and geographic barriers, but it also provides for some amazing and interactive learning experiences that benefits student comprehension.

There are so many benefits to online learning tools that it is hard to know where to begin. Collaboration however is one aspect that immediately springs to mind and several cloud tools have collaboration down pat. Both BOX and Google Drive, for example, provide users with a single document which can be edited simultaneously by multiple individuals. One of the obvious benefits of this approach is that it eliminates the possibility of having documents exchanged via email and the confusion surrounding who may have the most current version. Communicating while collaboration is also important and entirely possible on these platforms as well. Being able to communicate, while editing, with people who may be hundreds or thousands of miles apart geographically is simply astounding.

Communication is something that online learning tools frequently have in spades; from forums to email and various messaging applications the bring people together using typed text or even real time video chatting. I find that many tools that are dedicated to this end perform at a much higher level than those that try to be a jack of all trades. A prime example being the message boards contained within LMS like Moodle or Blackboard. These are vastly inferior to dedicated message boards like IPB or vBulletin. Email and instant message can transmit ideas around the globe in a heart beat, further shrinking the distance between us and allowing a much more enriching learning experience which can be shared with learners outside our specific geography.

Aside from being a powerhouse when it comes to communication, the Internet offers a wealth of sources of information from various sources from news outlets, educational institutions, wiki’s, blogs, forums, online magazine publications, and not to mention a wealth of professional and amateur images to illustrate anything under the sun. Of course, due to the mindnumbing size and expanse of the Internet, targeted search has become imperative. The Internet is, after all, only as useful as your ability to find what it is that you’re looking for!

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