Thursday, January 15, 2009

Web 2.0 The Future of Education?

I read a blog a couple of nights ago that I've been mulling over for a couple of days called Web 2.0 Is The Future of Education ( It did get me wondering where technology is taking us and is it even a positive change. I know my experiences in Northern Saskatchewan leaves me struggling with a school system that despite the efforts of hardworking teachers is working for less than half of the students that attend. Content and processes are being taught in ways that cannot compete with the same effectiveness as the wired world we operate in. Many of our students are social networking and attending to other sources of information and entertainment while learning is supposed to happening. Even my classmates in my Master's program have multiple windows open on their computer as they jump from conversations with people at home to searching a name mentioned by a professor or viewing a text message on a cell phone while in class. Technology has a hold of learners today in many ways. However, I do not jump to the conclusion that technology is THE future of education; I believe though that technology has a place in education now and into the future.

Steve Hargadon makes point that there is "a tidal wave of information" being produced; he claims that there are 100,000 blogs created daily and MySpace is signing up 375,000 users everyday. I'm not sure how he found this information (and I do think we need to be adding links to factual claims like these), but I do think it is probably true. He makes the point though that to deal with the information overload we need to know how to "produce more content" so that we can understand the information we find on the web. Essentially, when we have over 100, 000 blogs being created a day, by knowing how they are created we better understand the reliabilty of the information. For one, by knowing how to blog you will realize that blogs are essentially personal editorials and narratives placed on the web; you can learn from them and be misinformed by them. Reader beware. So by asking the question where did the statistics in Hargadon's blog come from (he does make a reference to John Seely Brown in Educause Magazine earlier), I have instantly made a connection that some of what I am reading may actually be a fabrication. I certainly do not think it would be a credible source for a formal research paper. Nevertheless, the point he makes is valid, and if we accept it as valid, then we have to conclude that education needs to include the teaching of the technology of the day. The question though is that all school will be? We also should not forget that technology is constantly changing and as I learned in the presentation in my EC&I 831 class last night ( go to and click here), I have to believe that even Web 2.0 will become obselete and outdated; it to could be viewed much like a gestetner.

His assertion that Web 2.0 is the Future of Education is strongly stated. I accept that Web 2.0 will need to be a part of an education for students, but let us not forget the teachings that are not technology driven that still belong in the life of a student. I think we would all agree that Physical Education is being made even more important because of the time we spend being inactive; we also have to think about the arts, the Practical and Applied Arts, and the socialization and social networking of students at all levels.

Steve also made me realize with his blog just how much change has come about with the internet. He emphasized that essentially it began as a "one-way medium" and now it is much more interactive. I hadn't really thought of it that way before and it made me realize the significance of the change. Those who are participants in the world wide web are now much more engaged as participants and creators. Good or bad; it is what it is and we (teachers) have a responsibility to help learners navigate safely in this rapidly evolving medium.

There are of course questions about how will Web 2.0 be incorporated into curriculum. Will English curriculum writers (as well as other subjects)be mindful of the impact of Web 2.0 as they renew and rewrite Language Arts Curriculums? Will governments fund schools to allow for greater access to computers and the multiple of tools that accompany them? Will parents resist having their children exposed to the web in a way that gives an entire planet access to their images, ideas, and possibly personal information? Will teachers who resist change adopt the Web 2.0 stuff and learn it?

Steve Hargadon is a visionary and he has made some excellent comments about what education may look like in the future, but there is much work to be done in public schools and in Ministry of Education offices to make the world he foresees a reality.

1 comment:

Alec Couros said...

Some great thoughts and questions here. It looks like you have had a great start regarding thinking about the issues. I think there is no doubt that the world is changing, and changing quickly. What that means is impossible to know, but I don't believe our current educational systems are responsive and flexible enough to handle these changes.

As you assume correctly, Web 2.0/technology will not be THE future of education ... there are so many other facets, where do we start?

Thanks for your solid post!