In the META e-Learning framework, the applications element encompasses Web 2.0 applications and mobile applications. Tim O’Reilly coined the term ‘Web 2.0’ in 2005 to cover a number of applications that facilitate student participation and interaction with the Internet (Conole & Alevizou, 2010). Applications such as Web 2.0 applications have been developed to provide opportunities for more social interaction and the ability to apply higher order thinking skills (Alexander, 2006; Thompson, 2007). “Web 2.0 refers to the social use of the Web which allow people to collaborate, to get actively involved in creating content, to generate knowledge and to share information online” (Grosseck, 2009, p. 1). The collaborative advantage provided by Web 2.0 tools comes in the form of tools such as wikis and Google Docs (Ferris & Wilder, 2006). This level of interactivity provides students with extended e- learning experiences that are authentic, authentic being that they are collaborative and realistic (Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2010).
Applications also provide great opportunity in e-learning for personalisation and customisation. In 2009, The Horizon Report predicted the rise of the personal web in two to three years. The report defined the personal web as “a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganise, configure and manage online content rather than just viewing it” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009, p. 9). It is noted that applications play a major part in providing the opportunities for students to personalise their learning, individually creating content and curating content (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009). Online applications such as Diigo, Twitter and Scoop.It curate and aggregate content to provide a personal repository for students who can then share this with their own personal learning network, which helps extend the experience provided for students in their own formal and informal learning.
Mobile devices, and the applications they provide, facilitate an ‘anywhere, anytime’ aspect in education and a personal web experience. Klopfer and Squire (2008) identify that advantageous features of mobile learning and applications include portability, social interactivity, contextual sensitivity and connectivity along with being personal. The variety of mobile applications available cater for productivity, social networking, game-based engagement, and so many more learning needs, all individually chosen and installed on a mobile device by the individual users. The possibilities for student engagement in their learning are extended through this medium, as it is so highly personal and customisable. Jeng et. al. (2010) identifies that “mobile technologies gradually facilitate and enhance learners’ interaction by means of accessing, discussing and sharing associated information through social networks” (p. 7). The extension of e-learning occurs through the opportunity provided to students for authentic interactivity with their own personal learning network, highly facilitated by the use of mobile and web applications.