I really liked Dave Cormier's Top 10 (11) list for 2006 - so much that I had a go in the Comments at a couple of his choices being US-centric and maybe not meaning as much to the rest of the educational technology world. I echoed another Canadian (Stephen Downes, Dave being the first referenced here) in suggesting that DOPA, the US government legislation proposal that would virtually shut out social networking sites from America schools and public libraries, was a matter only of interest to US citizens. Dave responded nicely:
Interesting. It’s possible that as a Canadian I’ve been living near the elephant for too long… but I think that you are missing something if you think that internet law in the US is not going to affect the rest of the world. Half of the internet usage (and the companies) are US based (dave makes up likely statistic). If, as in the case of DOPA, their market dries up, or, as in the case of net neutrality (senator stevens) they charge people for bandwidth, it will have a massive effect on worldwide internet usage and therefore edtech usage. How many open source projects depend on US bandwidth being free and how many educational products depend on Americans using them.
That was really helpful and gave me the information and relevance that I didn't get the first time round. So I told Dave so:
Thanks for the clarification - I think I was having an anti-US-centric day when I commented and I thought that you being a Canadian would be more open to international sensibilities. Your list would have not raised any eyebrows in the States because well, they all know what you’re talking about. Maybe, whinging Aussies like me would have been satisfied with some recognition of similar issues in our various parts of the world i.e. DOPA and its worldwide flow on impact and the fact there are dopey politicians globally in decision making roles who are completely clueless as to this “internet thing.” I’m just being nitpicky because if international bloggers don’t point out US-centric commentary, then US bloggers are hardly likely to notice! Your unique position near the elephant as you put it, allow you to observe things and identify the international implications. Your response to me here gives me the information I need to know why those events were important in 2006.
Glad I got that cleared up.
So that there's no mistaking this for something that is actually authorative, please observe the following disclaimer: This list, for want of a better word, is a bunch of observations deemed relevant by one Graham Wegner. They are probably parochial, limited to the R-10 public education sector in South Australia, contain glaring omissions and be completely devoid of research.
So, without further ado, here's what captured my attention throughout 2006. And yes, I do know that the year is not done yet but I'll take my chances that no more bombshells are likely.
Web 2.0 becomes a talking point for educators, if not a doing point.
I noticed this interest from teachers via the Blogging Masterclass, various presentations at the local CEGSA Conference and the Web 2.0 Showcase. Numbers were high when someone offered to tell them more about "Web 2 stuff" and a few spectators rolled up their sleeves and had a go at blogging or wikiing, but on the whole, it still seems to be something that most teachers here might still be looking to tackle sometime down the track.
Web filtering in schools really starts to stifle web based innovation in education.
Well, I noticed it. Innovative teachers like Al Upton did also. It's really hard to take these tools for a spin with students if they can't get to CC images because flickr is blocked, if all blogs, wikis and social bookmarking services fall under the dreaded Hosted Web Pages category and the visual seach engine of Google is disabled.
The rise of wikis in education, also used as a subversive tool for curriculum documentation, conference planning, e-portfolios, e-pals and much more.
Wikis seem to be less threatening than blogs - maybe because as a contributor you're sharing the responsibility of generating the content and you can get an end date for a wiki based project. Wikis also became a platform for planning and executing many events in the education sector, and for those of us who never mastered HTML or find that things never quite work in commercial web authoring programs, a wiki is, to quote Peter Ruwoldt, a quick and dirty way to create a website.
More people joined the Web 2.0 party, using established and emerging web based technologies.
Throughout 2006, podcasting and videocasting options multiplied and got easier to use with services like podomatic, Odeo and blip.tv showing the way. Not everything innovative is owned by Google. Gluing Web 2.0 stuff together became a lot easier with the emergence of many AJAX based apps like Pageflakes, WebWag, NetVibes and Protopage that followed the lead set by SuprGlu in late '05.
Meanwhile others got afraid, very afraid of what all of this could mean.
We saw media scaremongering here in Australia about teen use of social networking sites. It seems no-one in authority really knows what to do about the real or perceived dangers of student activity on the internet. It'd be too much to expect that those speculating about the negative scenarios would even think about having a close personal look at these technologies and how they work before condemning them to the "too dangerous" basket.
We also experienced a push back in time from some of our Aussie politicians, going against the grain of technology fueled skills looking for a defined history curriculum tied to "values education" and the re-introduction of A-E grades for students. Ah, things were always so much better in the past, weren't they?
So there you have it - the significant developments of 2006 according to me. Before you start violently disagreeing with me, please refer back to my initial disclaimer and it will be very interesting to see what unfolds for technology in education during 2007.