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Web 2.0 and Embedding Content



Web 2.0

Most online course environments, like Moodle or Blackboard, have a variety of great interactive tools,  such as discussion boards, wikis, surveys, etc. There are also tools like this available on the Internet that you can include in your course. Often the tools available through third-parties, such as Google, are more full-featured than those found in online course enivronments.

Tools that are Internet-based (reached through a browswer not from a program on your hard drive) and that allow users to interact with content and other people are called Web 2.0 tools.

Web 2.0 is a new type of technology that allows all kinds of activities to be done inside a web browser. The idea of Web 2.0 -- also called the Read/Write Web -- is that you can create web pages, interact with people, make multimedia presentations, and more easily without having to know HTML or computer programming. One of the great things about Web 2.0 is that whatever you create is stored on the web and can be accessed and edited from any Internet-connected computer.

Source: Dr. Michael Wesch; all rights reserved

As you are looking at Web 2.0 tools, keep your instructional goals in mind. What do students need to accomplish? How will they demonstrate that they have met those goals? What Web 2.0 tools can be used in this regard?

For your course, you may elect to use Web 2.0 tools or not. If you are new to the online learning platform you are using or tend to feel overwhelmed by all the options that technology presents, you can certainly stick with the tools that are there. For those who want to explore Web 2.0 tools in more depth, a listing of tools is presented below.

Here are some of the most popular categories of Web 2.0 tools with a variety of exmaples for each. (Many of these are built-in to various online platforms. Sometimes they are not as full-featured within some platforms though. If that is the case, you can always use a 3rd party tool like the ones listed.)


Wikis are groups of web pages that are quick and easy to create, add to, and edit.

Wikis can be used to create your own web page, to host an online course (like this one), or to gather and store information about almost any topic



Blogs (or web logs) are a way to keep an online journal. People keep blogs on every topic imaginable, from education to politics to personal interests, like sports, cooking, and music. In education, blogs are fast becoming one of the best ways to further your own professional development.

The main differences between blogs and wikis is that blogs are usually written by one author or a small group (while wikis are built and edited by large groups who may not even know each other). Also, blogs are displayed in chronological order, with the most recent entries posted at the top.

To read blogs:


To write blogs:

WordPress (or host your own)




Social networks

Social networks are technology-facilitated groups of people who have common interests. Examples you may be familiar with are MySpace and Facebook. The whole point of social networks is to connect with other people (your "friends") and exchange thoughts and ideas.

Some of the things you can do on many social networks include setting up a page, keeping a blog, have a comment "wall" (this is a place where friends can write you notes), post videos and audio clips, join groups, post on a forum (for the whole community), comment on other people's posts.

General social networks


Second Life

Education-related social networks

Classroom 2.0

Document sharing

Document sharing is a way to create and share word processed documents, spreadsheets, and presentations entirely online. (This can be for your own use; you don't have to share the documents.)

What's great about this is that you don't have to have any software (like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) installed to your computer, and you can access your documents from anywhere.

Google Docs (also has a school version available)



Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a way to store, organize, and search all your Internet bookmarks using tags. Tags are words you choose to describe something.

With social bookmarking, you can also share your set of bookmarks, either with a small group or with the public at large.

Social bookmarks are better than old bookmarks in your browser because you can access them from any computer and you can share with others.


(This is social bookmarking plus! It lets you assemble an online binder of online content and more to share.)

Digital storytelling

These tools enable interactive digitial storytelling with text, pictures, audio, and video.



Multimedia editing tools

These tools let you edit and convert multimedia files, like photos, audio, and video.

Photoshop Express
(format converter)
(photo resizing)

Additional resources:

This list just scratches the surface of what is available. Post your own favorites and how you use them as a comment or edit this page and add them here.

Then as you think about these tools and incorporate them into your own materials, post a comment with what you used, why, and what you hope to accomplish with it.

Embedding Content

One thing to keep in mind with online course content is that the more you can keep students "in the course," the better. Displaying content in your course framework, rather than sending students out to another program or another website, will help preserve the context and minimize distractions.

Here are a few ways you might do this. First, if you are creating content to share with students, create it in a page right in your course rather than putting it in a Word or PowerPoint document or other file.

Finally, if you are including a web-based video (e.g. YouTube), PowerPoint, or Web 2.0 tool, look for an embed code and embed it into your course. Generally, to do this, you'll need to copy the embed code and paste it into an HTML editor in your course. (The specifics may vary depending on the tool you're using.)

Here is an example of an embedded PowerPoint (from Slideshare). Much nicer than sending students out to PowerPoint, which they may not even have!

Source: Jason Rhode; all rights reserved

For more information, the School of Ed also has a whole course on using Web 2.0 and social media to encourage deeper learning with lots more information this topic.

Task Discussion