My keynote in Hawaii this evening (I can’t help say that, I mean, really it’s online, but the server’s in Hawaii and I’d love to be there too…) is about learning, blogging and web 2.0. I’m going to start by showing a powerpoint sketching a line from the memex onwards, and talking about how these developments in hypertext all focused on the individual user, and then I’m going to shift over to web pages to talk about what’s different today and how we should be using the social aspects of the web in our teaching – our students already are.

57% of online 12-19 year olds in the US have published their own creative work online, according to a recent survey by Pew Internet. 19% of online teens remixed other people’s content and published their remix online. They remixed stuff. This is how the world works today. And we worry about plagiarism. How then, do we meet these teens when they show up at universities and colleges?

I’ll point out some of the traditional arguments for blogging (mental workout and increased productivity; discover own interests and develop voice; on the other hand, some find it incompatible with traditional writing and of course some can’t write in company at all)

What is Web 2.0 anyway? A move from the solitary to the social, from finished products to processes and ongoing, many-to-many communication. Here’s an excerpt from O’Reilly’s comparison of old to new:

Web 1.0 Web 2.0
Ofoto –> Flickr
Britannica Online –> Wikipedia
personal websites –> blogging
publishing –> participation
content management systems –> wikis
directories (taxonomy) –> tagging (“folksonomy”)
stickiness –> syndication

How, though, does one foster social writing?

First: understand this space. Some students will be experts but most still lack overview, critical reflection and an analytical approach. Many have a thin surface knowledge. Understand the Wikipedia, Flickr and so on. What is the incentive for people to participate in such social spaces?

Here are some of my experiences with what works with students and what doesn’t:

  • concrete tasks, in classroom
  • set up tasks where students have to link to each other
  • insist on feedback to other students
  • teacher must model good blogging: link good or interesting posts from main course weblog
  • encourage feedback and editing of posts
  • set tasks that require reading and linking to other weblogs.

Ethical issues do need to be thought through – what happens if we make students participate in the public sphere? What are the consquences to them and what are our responsibilities to other people they might (no, will) offend? Probably we should insist students blog psuedonymously.

Finally, though, these are issues we simply must deal with in our teaching. If 57% of teens are already publishing their content online and actively engaging in social writing spaces, then we as teachers should be aware of this, encouraging and augmenting skills they already have, fostering critical awareness around their practice and helping those who are not as skilled to participate in this new public sphere.

28 thoughts on “Network Literacy: Learning with Blogging and Web 2.0

  1. Jonathan

    Your keynote was fantastic, Jill. Appreciated your topic and energy!

  2. […] Jill Walker, of the University of Bergen, has made some interesting observations about what is now termed Web 2.0 (at a keynote address at one of those conferences in Hawaii). What is Web 2.0 anyway? A move from the solitary to the social, from finished products to processes and ongoing, many-to-many communication. Here’s an excerpt from O’Reilly’s comparison of old to new: […]

  3. Craig Bellamy

    Hi Jill, thanks very much for this. I have been thinking of ways to incorporate weblogs into my Media studies subject next year. Web 2.0 maked sense now.


    Craig Bellamy

  4. Thomas Ryberg

    Wauv – interesting topic – found it quite luckily through recent furled pages but I will defininetely add it to my RSS’s – I am too very interested in Web 2.0, learning and literacy and the studies of young people – maybe you would be interested in looking at the Power Users project: – there are also some pages on learningtimes actually

  5. Ali


    Wonderful resource. On the basis of this I have gone back and re-edited a paper I was about to submit for my Postgradute Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education that I have to do duas a new lecturer at the University of Leeds (UK)


  6. Jill

    Awesome! Thanks!!

  7. […] i have spent a couple of hours working on the web 2.0 class that jim and i will teach on tuesday. i am quite excited about how we have chosen to structure the class, with stations and practical time, rather than a lot of lecturing… it feels a bit more practice-what-you-teach-ish. and serendipitously, jill’s last post has led me to an article from o’reilly which gave me some great fodder for the class. i like the way he stresses the organic nature of web 2.0 and how the focus is on the decentralization of power and information. or as dan gillmor puts it, the ‘we, the media’ rather than the few and the big.  we also will talk a bit about tagging and the role of the link and in folksonomy (which yes, at the moment sounds like a bunch of buzzwords, but we will explain how they all work together.) […]

  8. Martin

    Interesting! Re: remixing and what happens when the 2.0 generation meets academia.
    I actually think of what we’re doing at the university as remixing thoughts. That’s what all the footnotes are about. They’re like the little labels in CD liner notes that say “this song contains a sample from this song by that artist, copyright Record Label” etc. By footnoting, you’re actually saying “this idea of mine contains a lot of this idea by this other guy over here.” Showing the genealogy of your thoughts, like you’d show the genealogy of a song you made. All remixes contain something new and something old and so do all ideas. Maybe the 2.0 generation will just be better at understanding footnotes and sources and the fluid boundaries between themselves and their textual surroundings?

  9. Jill

    Yes, I think you’re right Martin – and also that blogs and many other “web 2.0” genres use links and other techniques to “cite” sources. Of course, often sources aren’t cited in remixes… they remain more as allusions or implicit references. Which is also a technique used in literature and other “high” and “traditional” forms of culture. Perhaps we should be teaching citation technique in this perspective instead of as a weird academic insistence.

  10. Martin

    Err. Come to think of it, I happen to have an article which is (sort of) about this very thing in the next issue of Prosopopeia. It’s about Wikipedia. You know you’re tired when you don’t see the glaringly obvious connection between what you’re writing and the other thing you’re writing.

    (Shameless plug: Launch party monday, 8 o’clock at BIT Teatergarasjen. Be there or be^2.)

  11. Jill

    So what happened to the old web versions of Prosopopeia, Martin? I found a shiny looking site with links to archives, but none of the old articles are there? And there are all these orphaned pages with articles from old issues, like this one from 1995, or this one from 1998, which includes an unlinked listing of a paper I wrote that I can’t even find anymore. Maybe just as well….

    Of course I know what a lot of work organising stuff like that is, and how thankless, and well, certainly when I was doing it there weren’t many other people very interested in helping or taking the job over. I think it was pure chance I volunteered taking over the website – Kjartan M¸ller started it but when he finished his degree it was sort of left to its own devices and my impression was most people didn’t really see the value of having an online version of the journal. So I looked after it for a while, and then fortunately Hanne and Synn¯ve got into it and made it one of their first projects in their now rather successful web design for the culture sector firm Pixelpikene. They did a great job for a few years after I gave up my more small-scale tinkering, but I can’t find any vestige of their work on Prosopopeia online. I hope at least the content has been saved somewhere? shows that ÿyvind Videnes must have taken over after them – here’s what the site looked like in 2001 (hm, the index of authors discussed doesn’t include Michael Joyce, the author of the work discussed in my lost piece. Oh well.) In 2003 it has a snazzy new front page that leads to basically the same design as in 2001, but where the index of author’s discussed is quite prominent – that’s a great idea.

    Anyway, looking forward to the Wikipedia paper 🙂

  12. Martin's guilty consciousness

    We are “in the process” of switching to a new content management system (the idea being that future generations of prospopeians will be able to quickly and easily publish their material without all the muss and fuss of tracking down free webdesigners that are as good as ÿystein Vidnes). This will involve putting text versions of all the old articles into a new design. The process has been somewhat delayed for a number of reasons. We hope to have our new website (the shiny one) up and running come mid-May (crosses fingers). It’s a shame that we don’t have a permanent web presence for the launch of the next issue.

    But yes, all old content has been saved, to my knowledge. Both design and text.

  13. […] I have been reading a lot this week about social software and virtual communities in preparation for the Wikis and Weblogs workshops that my office will be holding for faculty in coming weeks.¬† I came a cross¬† this article:jill/txt ¬ª Network Literacy: Learning with Blogging and Web 2.0 which is an interesting post on learning with the new web technologies/methodologies.¬† One line instantly produced inner tension: Ethical issues do need to be thought through – what happens if we make students participate in the public sphere? What are the consquences to them and what are our responsibilities to other people they might (no, will) offend? Probably we should insist students blog psuedonymously. […]

  14. Mark Deuze

    Jill, as always, an insightful post. But… (there’s always a but) to argue that today’s teens grow up in a remix culture – similar to the remix and remixability that what Lev Manovich claims to be the language of new media – and further celebrate that through the rhetoric of Web 2.0 seems to ignore how it all neatly ties in with todays new capitalist culture, where anything that is solid, stable, requires solemn commitment and investment over time (whether its relationships, jobs, or truths) gets denounced in favor of continious change and permanent flux – in other words: to remix culture. In doing so, aren’t we training students to become willing participants as surfers on a global sea of superficiality? For the main quality of the surfer is her ability to stay on the surface of things…

    I am saying this as an active proponent of all things convergent, remixable, socially networked – but at the same time acknowledging the disruptive nature of all these trends.

  15. Jamie HAll

    I heard about this post throught Aaron Campbell and This is really a great post and I agree with all six points that you wrote. I was wondering if you could give me examples or point me to links of “concrete tasks in the classroom” and “setting up tasks where students have to link to each other”. Thank you very much.

  16. […] In my talk on Network Literacy last week, I said that many students won’t know what to write in that empty white box they see when they log on to or whatever system they’re supposed to be blogging on. To learn how to blog, most students will need some specific assignments. Once you’ve done some blogging and have experienced ways it can be done, it’s much easier to find that you actually want to blog something and come up with your own ideas for blog posts. […]

  17. Jamie

    Thank you for your reply. I have started a blogging project with my students in a class titled “English Teaching Methodoligies 3”. We are in Iwate, Japan. The purpose of the blogs is to stimulate class discussion and also have contact English teachers outside of class. Of my 22 students some want to be junior high school English teachers but most want to be elementary school teachers or enter the provate sector. We are just getting under way, but the URL to the site is the following: .

  18. Doc


    Although I’m a bit late after the TCC06 conference to say so, I just wanted to thank you for your keynote address. Although the topic was about how we can understand and support thinking and writing with kids in school settings, I think (in my case at least), it was also a wake-up call to teachers to adopt this innovation, learn to apply it in teaching, and become models for responsible use (as you are with your blog).

    In the week or so after the conference, I launched a blog on my teaching and consulting site (using WordPress that you recommended) and it seems like I am off to a good start.

    Many thanks (mahalo)!

  19. Jill

    Doc, that’s great to hear – good luck with your blogging!

  20. Maxim

    […] 19% of online teens remixed other peopleís content and published their remix online. They remixed stuff. This is how the world works today. And we worry about plagiarism.[…]

    I found the topic really engaging, thanks for your brilliant ideas… 🙂
    I’m a student of the Dept. of Linguistics at TSURE, Russia, with my specialization in Translation and Cross-cultural communication. I’ve been working on an assignment called ‘Future Challenges of Intercultural Communication Management in the Online Multicultural Environment’ and really intend to touch upon Web 2.0 and k-logs, of cource. As part of my argument being against online plagiarism (‘copying-translating-pasting’ and stuff), I’m interested what you think about the boundary between ‘remixing’ and ‘copy-pasting’.

    To my mind, remixing isnít that bad (esp. for educational purposes), it’s probably about how much innovation one brings… But at the moment there’s so much stuff on the web which, alas, is plagiarism :(, that is why the tendency to remix might look kind of frightening. It looks like without some specific sort of web-legislation, in some years researchers might be cautious to publish their original content on the web.
    I think that a key to solving the plagiarism-problem is that remixing material should be done with the permission of the original content owner.

    I personally havenít yet posted my ideas about the assignment in a k-log. Iíll do it when Iím finished with my assignment so that I could get feedback for future research…
    Maxim 🙂

  21. Francois Lachance

    Jill asks “What are the consquences to them and what are our responsibilities to other people they might (no, will) offend?” and linked to a previous entry and exchange of comments about the ethics and etiquette of reviewing blogs. Both lead me to contribute this little bit: in preparation of the reviewing of blogs (in the ethics discussion phase) the students and the instructors might wish to contemplate what the reviews might find offensive. has a flag feature.
    Might be a way of introducing discussion of a number of topics related to responsible speech (and review).

  22. Jill

    Absolutely, FranÁois – actually I think the blog reviews turned out a great learning experience for me and the students, though if doing it again, I would try to have some of the ethical discussions beforehand, rather than after offense has been caused. The flag feature’s a good one.

    Maxim, the plagiarism issue is really hard. I’m frequently infuriated by the level of cut and paste in exams and student work – and then I turn around myself and google to see if I can find ideas for next semester’s syllabus.

    I think the goal has to be to teach responsible citation/remixing. Blogging can be one way of doing that – good blogging links to its sources, and the link is a form of citation. Allowing the reader to see what an argument is based on or what it relates to builds a sense of ethos, a sense that the linking blogger can be trusted, it’s not just an assertion, there is something behind it. I think also there’s something about learning to tell apart the allusion that you can assume people will get without a citation (lots of remixes use bits of very wellknown songs or videos on purpose) and other “links” or citations that you need to tell people about. Academic citation style is just the same as the links in a good blog – you let people know where you got your ideas and information from so they can follow the links if they like.

    It’s not entirely easy to figure out the ideal way to actually integrate this into the curriculum, but we’ll work it out eventually 🙂

  23. Maxim Afanasyev

    Well, thanks Jill, that sounds truly convincing and must be an effective solution to the entire problem. Now Iím surely going to add a link to your page into my assignment 🙂
    Iíve thought that if thereís Web 2.0, then it may also mean transition from (un)intentional plagiarism –> responsible citation, or may it not? Anyway, this process might take much longer. Somewhere in Web 3.0, perhaps?..

  24. Jill

    Maxim, I’ll cross my fingers and hope 🙂

  25. […] This why the new ways of the web and social technologies fit so nicely with Liberal Arts education as preparation for leaders of the world.¬† By connecting students to each other and ideas Web2.0 can provide our students a chance to try out ideas and reflect on how an individual point of view affects others.¬† The feel of social software as works in progress is also an added benefit. The leap for us as educators and mentors is to provide the opportunities to connect these experiences to reality.¬† This is not to say that online interactions are not reality but more that students often do not view the online world as real and public. Very much the same responsibilities through out recent education but with the added window into the students’ world/mind that blogs, wikis, etc… provide instructors that choose to use them. [From:jill/txt ¬ª Network Literacy: Learning with Blogging and Web 2.0] […]

  26. […] This morning I’m talking about blogs and learning for my university’s Kompetanseforum i IKT og lÊring. I’m going to base this on my keynote in Hawaii (ssshh, don’t tell anyone that it was online and I wasn’t really in Hawaii, let me pretend I was wearing a lei on the beach) about blogs, web 2.0 and learning, and depending on what people want I’ll also talk about the Wikipedia, Flickr, and give some practical examples. The people who go to these talks have lots of ideas and experiences of their own so I’m thinking flexible is good. Filed under:talks — Jill @ 09:28 [ ] […]

  27. […] Det g?§ller nu att ta till vara p?• alla dessa informella kunskapsk?§llor i den formella undervisning. Jill/text har skrivit om sina id?©er hur detta ska g??ras. Jag tror att hon har delvis r?§tt. Den st??rsta vinsten g??r man genom att p?•visa vilka f??rdelar de studerande sj?§lva kan g??ra och ha b?•de roligt samtidigt som det ger ett f??rspr?•ng att l?§ra sig anv?§nda de nya verktygen. Styr med nyfikenhet och skapargl?§dje. Som handledare g?§ller det att visa v?§gen och ber?§tta hur man kan dra nytta av f??rdelarna. […]

  28. Chinwe Ezeani

    Jill, I would like to do a survey on Gender and Network literacy skills of academic staff in my university in Nigeria. Could you please help with suggestions of websites i could visit and some of the salient considerations i should look into. What are the concrete things i might be expected to bring out in this research.I will anxiously await your response. Thanks Dr Chinwe Ezeani

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