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Blink and you’ll miss it – here comes the ephemeral web

This post was written by Imogen Casebourne and first appeared on the Epic blog on 24th February 2014.

A couple of weeks after another fabulous Learning Technologies, I took some time to reflect on what had really stayed in my mind.

Learning Technologies 2014 – a recapyoung people use multiple devices for social learning

I noted building interest in Tin Can with several talks on the topic, including a related seminar about learning platforms from Epic’s own Head of Learning Platforms Mark Aberdour. As always there were many insightful and interesting talks in the conference and in the exhibition seminar theatres. The Epic stand was very busy on both days of the event, with Google Glass attracting considerable interest, as well as Mike Alcock’s rolling gomo demonstrations on the adjoining stand.

On the topic of mobile and multi-device learning, it was great to join Helen Bingham and Alison Potter as they spoke about their experiences developing mobile apps for the NHS using gomo learning. Many of those apps, about topics ranging from neonatal medicines to adult drug calculations to health and safety awareness, are available from the app store.

The ephemeral web

The thing that really stuck for me, however, was the question, raised by the keynote speaker, of the future role of the ephemeral web.

What is the ephemeral web, you may ask? It is those things on the web that do not have permanence. They can be shared, but are not retained. Snapchat, which allows you to send photos that the recipient can only view for a few seconds, is perhaps the most famous example of this, but there are others.

The popularity of the ephemeral web may be the younger generation’s way of dealing with the previous challenge of sharing via technology. It provides a way of avoiding the danger that everything you write and every photo you share is kept forever and may be used in evidence against you, as some recent Twitter libel cases have shown as evidence in court.

This has previously been one of several differences between traditional groups (who meet and work together in physical spaces such as classrooms, libraries and meeting rooms) and virtual groups (who meet and work together via social technology).

Many people are shy in forums, chat rooms and virtual classrooms, preferring to watch rather than to contribute. It is possible that a part of this reluctance may be linked to the thought that all conversations will be saved for posterity. If real-time chat in forums was ephemeral, would people be more willing to contribute?

I think it is certainly worth investigating …

If you’re interested in the implications of the ephemeral web on virtual learning, take a look at our virtual classrooms insight to find out more about the way we learn from afar.


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