A discussion forum post by Helen Barrett

I decided to highlight the discussion of the different Web 2.0 tools for creating digital stories. The first PRO is access.Patti Burt said

...students can take their learning home with them. Our school district runs Mac computers ...most students have Windows computers at home and most often do not have access to the same programs we use - mostly because of the cost... I try to use open source software when I can (Audacity) but if students can use a web 2.0 program, even better!

But there is a CON for the use of Web 2.0 tools: you HAVE to be connected to the Internet all the time. Is that reasonable? My colleague, Evangeline Stefanakis, who works in large schools in the biggest cities in the U.S. (New York and Boston) says they don't have Internet access in many of the schools... that she HAS to use desktop tools. What is your experience in Canada? I've been facilitating Web 2.0 -based workshops where erratic Internet access is an problem, and you can lose students very quickly. And many of these Web 2.0 sites require you to view the videos from their sites. What if I want to put them on my iPod? Or view them when I am not connected to the Internet? I like the GoogleGears solution for GoogleDocs: my files are sychronized with my laptop computer, so that I can access most files when I am offline.

A second issue is quality of the technology. I really appreciate Sandy Hirtz sharing the VoiceThread example. I loved the content, but there was a hum in the audio narration, which we can prevent using desktop tools. You could also compare the quality of Flash video in an online site (places like YouTube, Google Video or blip.tv) with the quality of video on a DVD. What are the acceptable trade-offs between quality and accessibility?

Perhaps a third issue is creativity and ease-of-use. I can do more with a desktop tool, but often the learning curve is steeper. Perhaps a fourth issue is permanence; videos and images posted on the Internet can disappear. But then, so can CDs and DVDs... and hard drives can crash. Here is my plea for everyone to back of their digital images to an online site such as Flickr or Picasa!

What are your thoughts?