Semantics: a keystone of learning on the web

Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web is the development of the web as data are given meaning (semantics) which enable computers to look up and eventually “reason” in response to user searches. It’s early days yet, but because of that, it’s particularly interesting to delve into these changes to see how the Semantic Web might  affect education.

The Semantic Web holds three key features that are of interest to me.  The first is the capacity for effective information storage and retrieval. The second is the capacity for computers to augment the learning and information retrieval and processing power of human beings. The third is the resulting capacity to ‘mix and match’ that will extend and expand knowledge and communications capabilities of humans in multiple formats.

The Semantic Web is a vision of information  that is immediately  understandable by computers, so computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web. As the Semantic Web becomes more of a realization, new technologies will also continue to enhance the learning process making flexibility and adaptability a keystone of learning. The unlimited mashup of dynamic information, all portable and tailored to your preferences will be the vehicle for learning in the future.

Linked Data is powering the web but mostly outside of libraries, so libraries and those that deal with information (educators) need to catch up.

Technology is evolving extremely quickly, and consumers are driving delivery methods – “get it to me on my device”. Live Serials explains:

The information industry is all about helping people to find things and linking students to the resources that they need. We need to rethink how we do this, bringing the information directly to the user, in the format that they want. There should be no need to bounce the user via resolvers and multiple URLs to a site that eventually proclaims “Here it is!”. It should just be delivered.

Education needs to link students to resources and search is only one way of doing this, but an essential way nevertheless.

When a 16-year-old student writes about a new Semantic Search Engine and provides an extensive review of it – at a time when most teachers are even oblivious of the sort of choices that are ‘out there’, I begin to worry for teachers and be excited for our students.

Take the time to read Xavier’s review of  Kngine at Kngine: The Smartest Search Engine Ever? which he says

aspires to be the next leader of the Semantic Web or commonly known as Web 3.0.  The Washington-based revolutionary Semantic search engine functions similarly to Wolfram Alpha, but much better (based on my personal opinion).

Cool review, cool search engine!

6 thoughts on “Semantics: a keystone of learning on the web

  1. Greetings, Judy. In reading about Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web, I could not help but think about Howard Gardner and his concern for the future of the synthesizing mind. As stated in Gardner’s, Five Minds for the Future, “Without having some mastery of computers, citizens cannot access the information they need, let alone be able to use it productively, synthesizing it revealingly, or challenge it knowledgeably” (Gardner, 2008, p. 13). I believe the educated consensus supports a citizen’s mastery of computers, but it is interesting to think about how the Semantic Web may in fact facilitate citizen’s synthesizing. I believe Kngine’s “product comparison” demonstrates an early synthesizing example where synthesizing will then robustly begin to evolve.

    I welcome the synthesizing nature of 3.0, but still believe citizens must work in tandem with their synthesizing counterpart, Web 3.0. “The question arises about the extent to which technology tools will support synthesizing efforts in the future. Already in wide use are search engines that enable the user to track various topics and see how they have been related to one another” (Gardner, 2008, p. 70). Acknowledgment has been taken that digital synthesizing is here, but I doubt people will become completely dependent on computers; hence, cheating the development of their synthesizing mind. In adhering to Gardner’s first quote, “synthesizing it revealingly, or challenge it knowledgeably” is a responsibility to which we each own, are obliged, and privileged.

    It will be interesting to witness school praxis in encouraging and developing “self” synthesizing in unison with “digital” synthesizing.


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  3. Judy-
    I completely agree. I have giving several presentations on the Semantic Web at conferences, and the number one reaction is: I am just getting my head around Web 2.0- I can not think about Web 3.0!

    Whatever we call it, whatever it is, however we “label” the future…it is here! We need to start talking about the “Web” our students will be of; not simply the Web we are comfortable with.

    I am using your quote to start my speech tomorrow:

    “Time to roll your sleeves up my friends, and go beyond current thinking to understand learning and teaching when the web is our personalised federated search engine! Will our students know more? ”

    This is not about teaching students to be “on the web” or even “engaged in the web”- it is helping them understand how to be “of the Web.”

    Thank you for bringing this to the conversation. I would love your feedback on this if you get some time!

    • Thanks so much for the positive feedback Angela. It is so critical for us to think about about the changes that are taking place, and decide how best to support our young learners. Understanding the web is a whole new ball-game for many – so let’s talk about it some more! (Unfortunately your comment was buried in my spam filter – but it is out now! Thx!)

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  5. Pingback: Kngine Web 3.0 – wyszukiwarka semantyczna « Co mi w duszy mruczy

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