At the beginning of the year, Will Richardson commented on his lack of enthusiasm for 2007. The problem seems to be (amongst other things) a lack of progress in relation to changes in classroom pedagogy and Web 2.0-style 21st century learning.
While I sympathise with his frustrations (he IS an evangelist), I also consider that it will only be our evolving understanding of these contexts that will make 21st century learning work.
For example: the debate in 2006 around the value of Wikipedia as a significant online knowledge resource. There were those who insisted that Wikipedia showed the way of the future. There were others who spoke about the significance of this collaborative model. Just a few spoke about problems. While stuck in this debate, the real issue remained untouched – a shift of control!
Where is ‘judgement’, and what are we doing to create learning that promotes ‘judgement’? Learners need to be engaged in activities at a level of deep understanding about why or what they are trying to learn. So what did you tell your students about the value of, and use of, Wikipedia within their learning? Have you praised it’s value?
John Connell, in Fact and Fiction and Wikipedia shared a ‘must read’, salutory experience with Wikipedia from Joe, an authority on John Donne. This is the real Wikipedia – valuable, and invaluable at the same time! Judgement needed at all times – the kind of ‘judgement‘ that is nurtured by information professionals.
All the promotion of Web 2.0-style learning will not change anything really – I guess the source of Will’s ‘down‘ moment – unless we include ‘judgement‘ in the mix. This is where regular Web 2.0 evangelists don’t quite ‘get it’.
What do I mean? I mean the whole idea of searching for information, comparing, contrasting, and synthesising, and engaging deeply, and if needed, slowly in the way that Geetha Narayanan has shown us has great value. I would throw literacy and reading into the mix as well.
But for now, I suggest that Web 2.0 envangelists must consider a more proactive approach to ‘judgement‘ in Web 2.0, built on good searching and sourcing of knowledge components – otherwise we are in danger of building global parochialism!
So…… go and learn more about the Web 2.0 tools of searching. You could start with the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines.
Go learn how to motivate and challenge learners by supporting students online and offline in their information-seeking behaviour . Read They Might Be Gurus – a good-humoured account of the strengths and weaknesses of teen researchers and you’ll get my drift.
Then consider how you will foster ‘judgement‘.
Our kids need to think deeply and think well in a Web 2.0 world.
One of the best aspects of Wikipedia is its editing transparency – you don’t just get conclusions, but the dialog and editing that goes on behind how the conclusions are reached. Assuming one takes the time to read the discussion posts.
More and more often I go back to a quote by (I believe British astronomer) John Lubbock who commented:
There are three great questions which in life we have to ask over and over again to answer:
Is it right or wrong?
Is it true or false?
Is it beautiful or ugly?
Our education ought to help us to answer these questions.
Doesn’t get much more basic than that!
Great post, Judy. Keep’m coming!
Interesting interpretation of ‘judgement!’ I think in terms of web 2.0 we as educators need to be modeling how to interpret, use and evaluate many of the tools now available. I would argue that for this to be at a sophisticated level, educators themselves need to have explored, experimented with and evaluated web 2.0 as part of their own learning, almost before student needs are considered.
I agree that the ‘shift of control’ is the central issue, and this issue is also problematised by the ‘teacher ego,’ (in particular, the ‘transmission’ or ’empty vessel’ approach to teaching) and further exacerbated by insecurity. The only way around this kind of problem is to rethink who we are as teachers, and for syllabi and external exams to be far less content-driven.
And that process of judging what is useful and good, or even what can be turned into something useful and good (but is currently not so useful and good) could be one of the key roles for the teacher (and, of course, the information professional) in this new Learning 2.0 world that is growing around us. If the greatest respect that the teacher can now pay her pupils is to say ‘we are all learners now’, it is only fair to assume that learners will continue to respect their teachers’ wise counsel, experience and expertise in her capacity to judge the worth of processes, models, materials, sources (such as Wikipedia), and so on.
Of course, the act of judging should, as much as possible, be an open one – the teacher should always be willing and able to explain her rationale for judging as they do. Respect, from whatever direction, ultimately has to be earned.
I think, Judy, that your point about Web 2.0 evangelists not quite getting it is absolutely right. I just can never bring myself to trust an evangelist of any kind, but too many in this particular sphere will jump up to defend every aspect of Web 2.0 without any real attempt at balance. The evangelists do not serve the best interests of the new learning!
My favourite phrase in life as always been ‘doubt everything’! This is not a recipe for nihilism or cynicism – it is about rationale and sustained scepticism in the face of inevitable change. Funnily enough, it’s about judgement, isn’t it? 🙂
Thank you for pointing me towards the lucid little “They Might be Gurus” piece by Joyce Kasman Valenza, which I came to via John Connell’s blog. It is a wonderfully balanced, clearly well researched account that many of the loudest voices I come into contact with would be wise to read, before they speak. I will certainly share it.