Web 2.0 usage at Oxford

Those good people at TALL have done a survey of web 2.0 usage amongst their distance ed students. Dave White blogs about it, with a link to the results. Here are some things I took from it:

  • Overall web 2.0 usage isn’t as high as you might think given how much some of us talk about it. I don’t think this should be that surprising, and before all the naysayers cry ‘told you so!’ it is worth noting that for some tools it is very high, and it is going to grow rapidly (for example, imagine if this survey had come out a year ago and had included YouTube).
  • There is a pretty linear decline in usage across the age ranges (see Figure 3 in the results). Again, not too surprising, but as that youngest group moves up, imagine what the usage will be.
  • The big winners in technology terms were wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Skype, instant messaging and blogs. Perhaps surprising amongst the lower end of usage was SecondLife, Social bookmarking and Flickr.
  • A lot of the usage is social, with wikipedia probably doing the best for study use. Does this mean they aren’t useful in education, or that students haven’t made the transfer yet, or that the institution doesn’t really provide a route in for them to be used?
  • Blogs are pretty well read. I know us bloggers like to think they’re the new information source, and it does seem they have really become an established part of people’s reading pattern (reinforcing the point I was making in an earlier post). This applied to students and teachers.

Of course there are all sorts of caveats that go with such a survey – how typical are Oxford students, these were distance ed people so how transferable are the results to campus students, etc. But well done to TALL for actually get some data on this, rather than just relying on rhetoric like, ahem, some of us do. It will be interesting to see what will be the big changes in the next couple of years. My guess is you’ll see an overall increase as they predict across the board, but there will also be one or two technologies which reach a tipping point. My guess is that SecondLife won’t be one of these, because the barrier to entry (in terms of just the amount of time it requires to get a reward) is too high. I think social bookmarking might be one, particularly as it begins to relate to study more.

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