Monthly Archives: October 2006

Maybe in order for the Web 2.0 in Education tipping point to happen, those of us at the sparsely populated end need to jump up and down a bit to get the platform moving!

I just found out that a workshop I had planned and offered for teachers here in Adelaide has been cancelled due to a lack of numbers. Whether that is due to timing, lack of interest or whatever, it is a little bit disappointing from my point of view. The momentum I thought might have been there after the Web2 Showcase hasn't happened although all is not lost - hopefully, Al's workshop will still have a good attendance - but my efforts at getting more local teachers on board and blogging has lost some of its traction.

All is not lost however and this little setback may be great fodder for my next venture as part of the K-12 Online Conference. I sent in a submission at the end of last month for the strand of Overcoming Obstacles and received an e-mail the other night from Wesley Fryer confirming that my online presentation/workshop titled "No Teacher Left Behind - The Urgency Of Web 2.0" had been accepted. I'm not an expert but I feel that it was a topic worth exploring and I could certainly leverage my Learning Network to put together a resource that might help to provide a way forward and to shed some more light on the many obstacles that schools and educators face when using Web 2.0 tools for learning. I've set up a wiki (almost standard procedure these days!) to house my stuff and anyone can check it out and add to it (if you are a wikispaces member) or email me any ideas and links that you think might fit in with my theme.

The changing information landscape of the 21st Century demands that our students develop new skills of information literacy and become knowledge producers as an integral component of their learning. But what of the professionals charged with these students' education? Can they be convinced of the need for personal change to keep pace with their students' world? Are they even aware of the exponential changes taking place? How would they get started in their classrooms?

This online presentation will explore some of the barriers faced by educators seeking to improve and influence their colleagues’ perceptions of the internet, and Web 2.0 in particular, as a vehicle for learning. It will pull together various resources that could be useful as starting points for discussion and explore some of the concerns and trepidations of average teachers struggling already with a heavy workload. This presentation will use this wiki as its base and seek to leverage the online Conference participants to help create some possible answers and resources for those of us who recognize the need for our colleagues to be at our sides, providing best practice for our digital age students.

I suppose I now have some time to spend at the K-12 and I don't have to postpone my double booked doctor's appointment. Oh, and I can make that council meeting at my son's primary school....

Playing around with Photoshop tonight using an idea from a book I'm reading at odd moments during the holiday break, Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point." Is the tipping point for widespread recognition of web2 technologies in education far off or are we lacking the necessary epidemic conditions?


iwbgwJust a thought I had the other day when pondering the immediate future of our Interactive Whiteboard program - maybe the reason the IWB tool gathers a lot of scepticism and criticism is that unlike other new technologies like mobile phones, PDA's, mp3 players, laptops, digital cameras and DVD players, it isn't really used at all by the general public. I know that when we had our initial presentation from Peter Kent, he mentioned that the ACT Brumbies had used an ACTIVboard for game strategies and a staff member who has sons in the Aussie military has told me that SmartBoards have used to some effect in the Australian Air Force. But apart from that, the only place you'll find an IWB is a school.

I honestly think that fact brings with it a set of expectations for learning improvement and measurable outcomes from its use that doesn't apply to the same degree as the other mentioned technologies. The IWB is also designed to be a group based tool that can be used by pairs or individuals while mobile phones, PDA's, mp3 players, laptops, digital cameras and the humble PC are designed for individual use first that education has co-opted for group use and pairs. As I said at the start of this post, just a thought ...

At the Web2Showcase the other week, Mike Seyfang wanted to show an online clip from our national broadcaster but the permissions clearance didn't come through in time for his part of the presentation. That led to a short discussion about the fact that the law cannot keep up with technology any more - the remix culture is constantly breeching the old protocols of Intellectual Property and the media habits of students today constantly break the preconceptions of how we access, consume and manipulate digital media. P2P networks, Creative Commons licensing, social networking are all big threats to the current laws of who owns what. The music companies are certainly having to rethink the way their product is distributed - witness iTunes cards being sold in service stations and disgruntled artists offering their music for free. This hasn't happened overnight as veteran US rap group Public Enemy flagged back in 1999. Their front man, Chuck D also recently weighed into the DRM debate - I suppose it is no surprise that a master of re-mix would have something to say! (Incidentally, Public Enemy's Fear Of A Black Planet is one of my all time favourite albums...)

So, it is also no surprise that education is also struggling to keep pace with the changes. Rachel @ Bard Wired expresses her frustrations in a recent post that is typical of keen Web 2.0 advocates in schools today:

It's a real tricky question - emerging technologies (such as the many that are now blocked) have huge potential to extend and amplify learning opportunities for our kids (& teachers) yet how do we balance this with providing a safe learning environment (filtered school networks)??
Schools do have the ability to unblock sites but who decides in a school and how do they decide without resorting to the knee-jerk reactions to block (or allow) without fully understanding the benefits & issues around Web 2.0 in the classroom.

As usual, in the comments section, Artichoke is right on the money:

...- the stuff we valorise ICTs for at conferences - the interconnectivity for knowledge building - is just the stuff we do not let happen in schools - ...

The two lagging worlds of education and law collide in the classroom far too often. As an example, I want my kids to observe IP protocol by using only public domain and CC images in their presentations and workforms but the best resource for these images is in Flickr, locked away and made inaccessible by the default filtering system. Fair use isn't enough when students need the option to publish their learning to the widest possible audience. I don't know what the solution is. As a teacher of young students, I still think that some form of filtering is useful but surely in this age of amazing digital technology, an intelligent filtering system that builds up and allows educationally valid requests should be possible. Throwing all of Web 2.0 into the category of Hosted Web Pages and using a universal block on that category is just putting everything into the "too hard" basket. The reality is that everytime a wall is put up, our smart tech savvy students will find a way around, under or through the block. Finding the chinks in the armour or the loopholes in the legislation is something that is part of the human experience - even young primary kids know that if they want to download games and movies at school, stowing it away in a subfolder on the network and labelling it Novel Report is enough to fool most of the adults in charge of their education!

So, both the legislators and educators of Australia need to get their virtual rollerblades on because technology tools are not likely to slow down anytime soon and wait for either party to catch up. We must engage now and make informed decisions about how to manage technology for the benefit of learners and be wary of being sold lockdown solutions that make schools irrelevant to the networked world our students are part of today.