Thursday, 12 March 2009

Web 2.0 and Me: An Update

It's been a week or two since I last blogged about the Web 2.0 tools we've been learning about, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about them. So here are my latest reflections on Mindmeister, Delicious and their selected ilk.

Re. Mindmeister, nothing much has changed. I went back on the site today, and didn't like it any better this time. I feel a little less clumsy about it than I did before, which I suppose is progress, but I can't see that I'd ever want to use it for my own purposes. I would, though, be happy to recommend it to students: especially those working on a group project. I still think that an individual researcher would be just as well off with pen(s) and paper. But if you don't already have the felt tips, Mindmeister might indeed be easier!

Re. Delicious, I still feel a bit cautious -- I very much share True Stories' misgivings. I did have a brief glimmer of second thoughts, a week ago, when the advantages of Delicious suddenly bore in upon me. I was working in a public library, and it occurred to me that having all my bookmarks easily accessible from this unfamiliar location might have been useful. Then I thought again: all I really wanted to do in the library was access my email, my blog and a few other sites that I know well and whose URLs I can easily remember. To do this much does not require a Delicious account. And I still maintain that I am unlikely to do much significant research -- i.e. work which genuinely requires access to my usual bookmarks -- while not accompanied by either my office computer or my own laptop.

The possibility of using Delicious for teaching-only purposes, however, does appeal to me, now I think about it, and I will blog about this on another occasions.

About wikis and podcasts I am much more enthusiastic. I'm still not really sure how I might use a podcast in practice, but I like the idea of doing so, and will think about how it could be done. I have something of a phobia about hearing recordings of my own voice, but I guess I can just try to overcome my inhibitions. (Well, that inhibition anyway ...)

Wikis, I think, offer lots of scope for teaching purposes. I know of a colleague of mine from another university who successfully applied for funds from the English Subject Centre to help her students set up a wiki of their own (on classical references in a modern poem). The students really enjoyed doing it, and it was a marvellously effective teaching tool. I could see myself doing something a bit like that in my third-year option on women's writing. But it would only work with committed students who were willing to share their ideas with the rest of the cohort. This would not be the case with everyone.

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