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The development and uptake of digital tools and social software is bringing about massive societal and economic change. Web 2.0 technologies have been widely recognized and promoted for their affordance of easy publishing, sharing, socializing, and communication. Web 2.0 practices are activities that use Web 2.0 technologies, embrace a learning paradigm that values participatory culture, emphasize collaborative learning and peer-to-peer interaction, involve active participation and engage learners in knowledge creation activities. Web 2.0 practices help individuals develop essential skills needed for success in today’s world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Although higher education has been taking advantages of Web 2.0 applications to create technologically-enriched learning experiences for students, most of the existing Web 2.0 literature shows that educators do not use those applications to their full potential. That is, the participatory, interactive, collaborative, and social aspects are often missing from learning activities. Furthermore, the impact of social media on teacher education has been rather limited. While expectations have run high about web-based instruction, virtual worlds, social media and the raft of “Web 2.0” tools, the impact on professional learning is not well documented. Recent research globally indicates that change is constant and that challenges educators need to be fully aware of include the adoption of Web 2.0 applications to support teaching and assessment in meaningful and authentic ways. The recent emergence of approaches to learning that are based on self-determination and networking such as heutagogy and connectivism help us understand learning as making connections with ideas, facts, people and communities. Learning for the professions has grown beyond mere consumption of knowledge and become a knowledge creation process. The new effective teacher must think more about process than content, enabling learners to operate in the digital world rather than learn a discrete body of facts. The paper will present the teaching and learning possibilities accompanying the social, participatory and collaborative tools that have emerged in the Web 2.0 era. For beginning teachers, competence in e- learning and the capacity to employ these tools to support lifelong professional learning. As technologies continue to change, there is a now a stronger emphasis on teacher learning and that is proactive, experiential and mediated by digital tools. The processes that are involved in teacher professional development are discussed, and linked to the enabling affordances of digital technologies. The complexity of teachers learning and teachers’ knowledge is acknowledged and theorised, and evidence is presented that digital tools and their affordances can enable and support teacher learning in a number of productive ways.

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Conference Paper

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