Web 2.0: Is It All That and a Bag of Chips?

17 Jul

Brenda Dyck visited our Inquiry and ICT class and shared with us information about knowledge building with Web 2.0. I was impressed by the diversity of Web 2.0 tools that are currently available and how they could be used to support and enhance student learning in the classroom.  I was unaware of most of these tools and my mind began to run through possible classroom applications. This is the part where I have to be careful of which questions I pose to myself: “How can I fit this tool into my instruction because I think it’s cool” vs “Is this the best tool I can use to enhance instruction?” The reason I need to be cognizant of this is because outside of the classroom I have found myself using technologies simply because they exist until my wife proves that a pencil, for example, is a better tool for a given job.

No doubt there is a time and place for all the Web 2.0 tools but beyond whether or not they are the right tool for the job, there are other considerations. As Bransford, Brown, and Cocking state when talking about technology-based tools: “But the mere existence of these tools in the classroom provides no guarantee that student learning will improve; they have to be part of a coherent education approach.” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 216)

As we integrate the web into our districts, classrooms and ultimately student learning, we might want to consider the following while developing policies and practices: 

What are the true intentions of technology advocates?

 “They promote a particular piece of software, interactive Web site, or digital device as if it were an enduring key to success rather than a transient tool of the moment. These are the successors of those who assured 1960s and 1970s high school students that knowledge of Fortran and COBOL would guarantee their career success, when actually a study of logic, English composition, and a couple of other languages might have been more helpful.” (Reeves, 2009, p. 87) 

We need to ensure that we develop partnerships with those that are truly promoting technology for the right reasons.

“Educators must distinguish between promoters who are attached to short term ideas and partners who see technology as a means to an end—enhanced learning. There is a crying need for brand-neutral analysts, advisors, and consultants who will help school systems evaluate alternatives in technology and who are unambiguously disconnected from advocacy.” (Reeves, 2009, p. 87)

Secondly, how does the nature of communication within the framework of Web 2.0 affect learning?

“Technology allows users to create and sustain “relationships” by electronic means, but such relationships lack the high-touch connection inherent in voice-to-voice and face-to-face interaction. The lack of personal relationships in the context of Web 2.0 is a problem because of the high level of trust needed between content contributors and users. The closer the personal connection, the harder it is to engage in deceit.” (Reeves, 2009, p. 87)

Further to this Light (2011) adds:

“In a traditional classroom, students talk face to face primarily to their classmates, and everyone knows that the teacher sets the subject and tone of their communication. But with networked activities, the boundaries can begin to blur. Students’ work may reach very different audiences who can talk back to them.” (p.14)

Finally, we need to ensure that our students can distinguish between data and knowledge:

“It may be creating students who believe that research means cutting and pasting until the teacher’s page requirements have been met instead of distilling the essence of an argument. Such students confuse data with knowledge and thus lose the opportunity to apply intellectual filters in a manner that reflects critical thinking. Today more than ever, students need guidance to turn the Web’s deluge of information into meaningful knowledge.” (Reeves, 2009, p. 89)

In conclusion, I am excited about the direction technology is taking and believe Web 2.0 has great implications for knowledge building but we must balance our enthusiasm of emerging technologies with a conscientious look at the complexities of its implementation.

References:

Bransford, J., Brown, A. & Cocking, R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-78).  Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Retrieved from
http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9853&page=1

Light, D. (2011). Do Web 2.0 Right. Learning & Leading with Technology, v38 n5 p10-12, 14-15. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/recordDetails.jsp?ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ914323&searchtype=keyword&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&accno=EJ914323&_nfls=false&source=ae

Reeves, D. B. (2009). Three Challenges of Web 2.0. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 87-89. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/detail?sid=c19e6e69-e837-495d-9fa4-1d4441337fb5%40sessionmgr11&vid=1&hid=8&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=afh&AN=36666634

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