Web 2.0: good for magpies, not so good for education?

1 09 2008

*Some artistic licence may have been applied to the above photograph.

Are bright, shiny applications detrimental to educators’ attempts to use web 2.0 for teaching? That, in brief, is what Jennifer D. Jones suggests in her video Web 2.0 is not the future of education. It’s a point I’ve considered before; certainly sites like Facebook are rife with garish blaring clutter: ‘how hot are your grandparents’ and ‘monkey soduko’ style applications that an unbelievably large amount of people think are worthwhile additions to their profile pages. So yes, I’m not a big fan of attention grabbing / sapping apps. Such things are distracting and pointless, their purpose being to be shiny rather than substantial. However, I don’t think that’s a reason to dismiss web 2.0 as a platform for promoting learning. Yes, it’s sensible to spot the distractions and pitfalls inherent in using web 2.0 and yes, there are other technologies which will eventually supersede it but, for the time being, web apps are what a lot of people are using so why not utilise them intelligently and reflectively, whilst maintaing an awareness of potential new avenues on the web and in technology in general? After all, if you can’t be a pragmatist on the internet,  where can you be?



2 responses

1 09 2008

Thank you so much for the link and great comment! I entirely agree with your thoughts that “why not utilise them intelligently and reflectively, whilst maintaing an awareness of potential new avenues on the web and in technology in general?” I think I mainly have a problem with people who can’t see beyond Web 2.0 and feel an urgency to convert everyone to it. For those who keep an eye on the future, and use these applications in a way that enhances learning, there really isn’t an issue. What I really don’t like is when I see teachers who’ve not used technology introduced to these applications through workshops where they are shown one shiny thing after another, and then expected to apply them without any background on WHY they should use them. Often they will select one, or a few, of the things they learn from these workshops, apply them without proper planning, and then get discouraged at their lack of success. I fear the way we introduce these tools to teachers, can affect the way they view technology for learning throughout their careers, and some of us are not being responsible in preparing them for the true future.

1 09 2008
Andrew Day

I totally agree, I’m finding my way in web 2.0 and one of the things that’s struck me the most is just how many things I’ve been excited by and then never used again because they’re not actually useful in any real way. What interests me is finding the aspects of web 2.0 with long term usability and putting those to work. So yes, starting from a ‘you could use this because…’ viewpoint rather than a ‘this is COOL! USE THIS!’ one is probably the best way forward. The last thing you want to do when working in something as important as education is lead people down tangents. I wrote a bit about this in my ‘Put the Facebook Down…’ post and it attracted some good comments from a couple of colleagues if you’re interested.

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