Having died in 1980 Marshall McLuhan had only glimpsed its genesis when he proclaimed, “In this electronic age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness (McLuhan 1967).” This essay examines the relevancy of Web 2.0 software, specifically blogs, wikis, social networking, and social bookmarking tools, and considers aspects of professional learning communities and the potential of online collaboration.
With the explosion of Web 2.0 software and the use of social networking sites (SNS), it was certain that professional environments would begin to incorporate the technology. While previous conceptions of computer-mediated communication – video gaming, Facebook use, YouTube – have been characterized as detrimental, the technology is now being reconsidered for its functional value. Many varied corporations have implemented collaborative technology, including Google whose employees hold daily meetings with associates spread throughout the world.
One of the most widespread uses of collaborative technology has occurred in education environments. Indeed, certain researchers even argue that this technology is expanding the very nature of classroom room outside of institutional walls. (Carchiolo, Longheu, & Malgeri 2002). It is clear that success in 21st century education for teachers and students alike will hinge on the successful implementation and use of technology. In a 1995 testimony to Congress, Professor Chris Dede stated, “The global marketplace and the communications and entertainment industries are driving the rapid evolution of high performance computing and communications.” (Dede, 1995, Web) Part blog, part, wiki, part social bookmarking tool, a prominent use of social networking software in the classroom has occurred with the online application Ning. Launched in October 2005, the platform