Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Digital Natives or Digital Neophytes: Business Student Perspectives on Course-Based Web 2.0 Applications

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Digital Natives or Digital Neophytes: Business Student Perspectives on Course-Based Web 2.0 Applications

Article excerpt


The impact of the Internet and more recently, Web 2.0, has dramatically altered the way in which individuals, companies and organizations communicate and interact both online and offline. While there are a myriad of definitions of Web 2.0, the common threads throughout all is that Web 2.0 provides the ability for individuals to create and share content on the web. The approaches for creating and sharing this content vary (and are continually evolving) including sharing photos and videos (through such applications as Flickr and YouTube), the blogosphere (including traditional weblogs and microblogs such as Twitter), developing collaborative information stores such as wikis (e.g. Wikipedia), social bookmarking, and, the most pervasive, the creation of personal and professional online communities or social networks (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn). Amer-Yahia, Halevy, Alonso, Kossman, Markl, Doan & Weikum (2008) succinctly noted that "Web 2.0 offers an architecture of participation and democracy that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it" (p. 49).

Although there has been a great deal of hype around Web 2.0 applications and tools in industry, Web 2.0 also offers possibilities for new approaches to enhance student engagement and learning (Lawton, 2007). Web 2.0 changed the nature of the web from primarily a source of information and content to a new tool for fostering the development of communities, creating information and knowledge, and sharing ideas; this shift presents both challenges and potential benefits for higher education (Maloney, 2007). These possibilities have only recently begun to be explored by educators and academic research has focused little on the impact of these approaches for both faculty and students in the business education realm.


There have been two primary research streams in the business education literature on the application of Web 2.0 technologies to enhance learning. Some research has described the use of a Web 2.0 application in a specific course setting, while other studies have focused primarily on discussions of how the tools could be applied to promote student engagement and experiential learning.

Applications of Web 2.0 in Business Courses

The majority of business education research conducted to date has discussed specific faculty applications of a Web 2.0 tool within a given course. Not surprisingly, the majority of the studies published have incorporated the most widely known tools including blogs (course blogs, individual student or student group blogs), microblogs (e.g. Twitter), wikis, social networks, and virtual world applications (e.g. SecondLife). Other Web 2.0 tools that have been incorporated in business courses to a lesser degree include, podcasting, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), screen capture, and social bookmarking.

The most commonly reported business education application of Web 2.0 has been blogs. Faculty who have experimented with this tool often do so because they believe blogs provide students with an easy to use mechanism for self expression and communication, a social network of course peers who can share knowledge and information, an effective way to receive feedback from both peers and the instructor, and a student a means for self-assessment by comparing their posts to others (Du and Wagner 2007). However, the results of studies using blogs in business education have been contradictory. Studies that have praised the use of blogs typically note that the tool provides students with the ability to delve into course topics more deeply (Huang & Behara, 2007), become more engaged in the course (Lin et al., 2006), enhance subject matter knowledge (Du & Wagner, 2007), promote experiential learning (Huang & Behara, 2007; Kaplan, Piskin & Bol, 2010), promote student collaboration (Lu & Yeh, 2008), enhance creativity, self-expression, and communication skills (Huffaker, 2005) and improve students' soft skills (Kaplan, Piskin & Bol, 2010). …

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