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School 2.0 in Name Only

Will is back from vacation and doing some great reflecting on what it means to use web 2.0 in school and in the process of teaching and learning.

But he wonders if simply having students use read/write web tools and publish to the world is enough.

Yes, we can have kids create movies and podcasts and wikis and all sorts of artifacts that have meaningful purposes and messages. And yes that’s all good, but at the end of the day, all that’s about is being able to use the tool to do the same stuff we’ve done in the past only put it into a new form and offer it to a wider audience. The pedagogies haven’t changed.

And therein lies the problem.

While the definition of web 2.0 is still rather vague, most every voice on the subject I’ve heard emphasizes one big contrast between version 1 and version 2.

It has to do with control.

Under the Web 1.0 way of thinking, the site owner had control of their content. They created it, they determined when and how it was distributed, they locked it down to discourage it from being modified.

Moving to Web 2.0, control is given over, at least in part, to the user. They create and/or modify the content. They determine what’s important and what’s not.

We in education are very (very!) reluctant to do that. We don’t want to share control of content (not to mention the pedagogy) with students, the supposed users of School 2.0.

Until we involve students in determining both the content and fundamental structure of their learning (it’s theirs, not ours), we have no right to stick a 2.0 tag on what we do.

Adding a few blogs, wikis, videos, and podcasts to the traditional classroom maybe gets us up to version 1.29.

web 2.0, education, control

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5 Comments

  1. CarolinaButton

    Tim,
    I am a newbie to blogs, wikis, podcasts…Web 2.0 in general. I saw Will speak at the NCaect Conference in February and I was hooked. His blog has led me to so many wonderful places, including your blog!

    I currently work very closely with schools (especially media specialsts). I agree with you 100% that educators are very reluctant to share the control of teaching with their students. However, as a former teacher, part of my fear to share control was the fact that many of my students did not have the resources and support at home that drive the intrinsic motivation to learn. I struggled to find ways to “update” my pedagogy to incorporate technology but also assure myself that at the end of the day I was teaching something and not just entertaining.

    I look forward to visiting your blog in the future!

  2. I agree with you that control is a big part of it. Teachers who have spent their whole working lives being the “sage on the stage” have to redefine who they are in the classroom, and that new identity doesn’t have as much power as the old one. That’s scary stuff.

    My struggle right now is how to make it less scary and help people understand. Sometimes it’s pretty easy and people are willing to learn. I’m amazed though at how someone can work in the field of education and be dead set against learning anything new. How do we get past that–or do we? In my more pessimistic moments, I wonder if we just have to wait a generation until some of the current teachers have retired.

    Have you found any approaches that have worked for you?

  3. Christy,

    I’ve felt that same frustration at times. On the one hand, quite a few teachers seem open to learning things about their specific course or content. Maybe that tie in is the key.

    But it does seem surprising that in an institution dedicated to “learning” that people are so resistant to change and learning.

    fear? just a lack of time and understanding? too much work and too many students to deal with one more thing? teaching as a job and not a calling? administrative support for change?
    busy with the day-to-day, making it harder to think about the bigger question? teachers want practicality due to being busy? people who liked school go into teaching so they don’t see a need to change it? it seems too overwhelming?
    we don’t ask teachers to be reflective as a part of their jobs?

    I’m sure we all could go on and on brainstorming possible reasons. As Joyce Valenza says, we need to water flowers, not rocks.

  4. I fear I sounded more frustrated than I am in the previous post.

    I think the people who are resistant are much more vocal than those who are not.

    When I think over all the workshops I’ve done over the years, the audiences are receptive, enthused and positive and want to try things.

    I think it’s like everything else, the squeaky wheels are the ones we pay attention to.

    We have to remember to focus on the positive voices, the movement forward. I know my campus is in the middle of a tremendous sea change (due in a large part to our principal’s leadership, I should add), but a lot of the teachers have been very open to it and you can feel the process building over time, which is very positive.

    So I just didn’t want to leave the post there without mentioning those positives!

  5. Tim

    Maybe I came off as pretty frustrated as well, Carolyn. You’re right that we do have many colleagues who are receptive to the concept of using technology to better help their kids learn. Unfortunately, they are usually in the minority in most of the schools I work with.

    However, my big complaint really isn’t with most teachers anyway. It’s more with the educational structure in which they are required to work. And the constraints only get worse as more standardized tests, and the hours of preparation that accompany them, are layered on.

    I’m afraid there is a growing chasm between the world our students live in and the one they find in school for a few hours a day. How long will it be until the disconnect is so great that a majority of our kids completely tune us out?

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