Web 2.0 and Pharmacy Education

Jeff Cain EdD, MS; Brent I. Fox PharmD, PhD

Disclosures

Am J Pharm Educ. 2009;73(7):1-11. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

New types of social Internet applications (often referred to as Web 2.0) are becoming increasingly popular within higher education environments. Although developed primarily for entertainment and social communication within the general population, applications such as blogs, social video sites, and virtual worlds are being adopted by higher education institutions. These newer applications differ from standard Web sites in that they involve the users in creating and distributing information, hence effectively changing how the Web is used for knowledge generation and dispersion. Although Web 2.0 applications offer exciting new ways to teach, they should not be the core of instructional planning, but rather selected only after learning objectives and instructional strategies have been identified. This paper provides an overview of prominent Web 2.0 applications, explains how they are being used within education environments, and elaborates on some of the potential opportunities and challenges that these applications present.

Introduction

The term Web 2.0 refers to an evolving number of Web applications that are both open and social in nature. Although there is controversy as to what this means, the general concept is a new set of online applications embracing openness among users, openness among other applications, social connections, and collective intelligence.[1] While Web 2.0 as a term indicates a second generation of Web tools, most experts would say that it is more an evolving emergence of familiar and unfamiliar technologies rather than an entirely new construct.[2] The term Web 2.0 reflects a paradigm shift from Web sites as providers of information, to social co-construction of information by a community of users.[3]

Also known as the Participatory Web, Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com, Palo Alto, CA), and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com, San Bruno, CA) are being adopted at high rates among users of all ages who seek to capitalize on those social and interactive features.[4] Many of these applications hold the promise of value to teaching and learning in higher education. Similar to the excitement generated by the invention of the World Wide Web, this second generation of the Web is garnering new interest for potential changes in how people communicate and share knowledge. Due to ease of use and open availability, and unlike previous Internet applications, many Web 2.0 applications have a lower barrier to entry into the education environment.[2] Most of the applications are available at no charge to the user, are readily accessible via the Internet, and do not require extensive technology skills.

The numbers and types of Web 2.0 applications are rapidly increasing, making it difficult for some educators to keep pace and understand the opportunities for their use in teaching and learning. In this paper, the authors seek to provide educators and administrators with foundational information on various Web 2.0 applications and their potential use within pharmacy education. Key features of the applications are explained along with some of the accompanying challenges and concerns for educators. The authors conclude with discussions regarding the paradigm shift and potential uses of Web 2.0 applications in the educational environment.

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