Web of knowledge: the Semantic Web

Last week many Australian teachers & tech  educators travelled to Melbourne to participate in the ACEC 2010 Conference Digital Diversity, an Australian biennial national ICT education conference. Much has been written since then about the challenges we encountered, the message of the keynote presentations, and the interesting experiences and conversations we all enjoyed.

What struck me was the continued conversation about the same things – even the Keynote sessions offered no new insights into the future directions of learning, though there were some challenging messages thrown out to the participants as ‘take-aways’.  For me the absolute  highlight was the  Keynote by Oscar award-winning Australian  Adam Elliot. So refreshing to hear something beyond the usual Gary Stager message of gloom and doom which offered little in constructive strategies for the listeners.  Thanks to Chris Betcher for his Keynote and reflections on Gary’s presentation too. I liked Chris’ presentation much  more than I liked Gary’s – despite Gary’s apparent claim to  fame.

BUT where were the discussions about the future directions of the web?  No keynotes that explored the synergy between virtual worlds, augmented reality, or the Semantic Web.  Nothing that offered hands -on grass-roots understanding about information fluency and knowledge work in a globally connected semantic web.

We have to stop working/thinking in silos!!  It was the same at the Apple  ITSC2010 conference, held over the last two days in Sydney.  Nice stuff covered for sure, and fun hands-on workshops. But nothing that points the way forward. Nothing that deals with reading and  literacy (our inescapable way of cognitive engagement with multimodal texts) on a variety of devices from paper to e-devices. Nothing that acknowledges the virtual, augmented, semantic mashup of connection with the world.

You know, the journey is  just  become interesting – don’t stop now:-

•1980s – Desktop is the platform
•1990s – Browser/server is the platform
•2000s – Web services are the platform
•2010s – Semantic web is the platform
Humanity is being connected by technology – oh not just in a Web 2.0, connected/conversation way, but in the way that Tim Berner’s Lee actually envisioned.
Web 3.0 – the Semantic Web – will revolutionise knowledge discovery.  And here we are still talking about the same old stuff without so much as a’ doff of the hat’ towards the real future of the web.
Do not for a minute think that you have prepared you students to understand how to learn well if you are integrating a bit of fun  technology- whatever the platform you use!  What are the thinking strategies that are underpinning your work?  What are the information fluency tactics that your are deploying in your classrooms?
I presented a preliminary conversation starter about  Web 3.0 and the Semantic web at ACEC2010 – just because I know that too many teachers are not even now looking at the different search engines, and the strategies that can be applied in the current web. How on earth will we expect our students to query the value of the information flood of knowledge that will be more readily available once the Semantic web takes a hold?
Time to roll your sleeves up my friends, and go beyond current thinking to understand learning and teaching when the web is our personalised federated search engine!  Will our students know more? or will they become more easily swayed through biased popular opinion?
Get beyond  your 21st century learning bubble of Web 2.0 tools and technology integration, and start planning for the actual future of learning.

5 thoughts on “Web of knowledge: the Semantic Web

  1. Pingback: When did the Semantic Web become Web 3.0 – inspired by Judy O’Connell | Martin Pluss

  2. Yikes,

    I’m disappointed that you found my talk so gloomy. I tried hard to inspire, remind the audience of our potential and inspire those “who know better, to do better and speak louder.”

    Computers offer enormous potential to benefit children and much of the edtech community seems to have forgotten or devaued that.

    I suspect that you might have been more pleased if you had attended my breakfast session, the panel with brilliant teacher colleagues or my soapbox session (soon to be published online).

    Take a look at my blog – http://stager.tv/blog and you MIGHT find more to your liking. There will be more videos of me showing “positive examples” of kids doing brilliant things there in the near future if there are insufficient examples today. I suspect I have done as much to offer POTENTIAL models of the “future of learning” as anyone.

    I don’t know Chris Betcher and regrettably didn’t see his session at ACEC. Despite several bloggers lumping us together, I suspect that our world views differ dramatically. I’d love to debate anyone who claims that IWBs are “a revolution” in the future.

    All the best,


    • Thanks for the feedback Gary. No question that you have done a lot to help educators, but I think the time has finally come where we have actually been doing what you’ve been hoping we would do. So that’s why I am looking for more from Keynote presentations – and wonder what you think of the future directions and implications of Web 3.0/Semantic Web. Using computers is no longer the message. Connectivism is driving us into medium directions that I suspect you could well do to explore and then champion on our behalf. We must be careful not to bury ourselves in technology silos of thinking. The semantic web and AI research are turning our world in new directions of knowledge endeavour. Could you help us with that, or is that outside your field of information and research ?

  3. Judy, I fully agree with your views. We need more discussions about the future directions of the web. And this is a critical moment for us as educators to model ourselves in leading the changes, to prepare ourselves and next generation for the challenges lying ahead.

    I haven’t got the opportunity to attend this conference – ACEC 2010, but I think we could equally contribute to the advancement of Web of Knowledge through all other means, like our Facebook & twitter sharing and discussion.

    I think a lot of us in the blogosphere and twitters, facebook would all like to share this common vision: that humanity is being connected by technology, and need more interactions to apply innovative practices in teaching and learning. We could all make a difference through social networking and learning.

    Thanks Judy for this call for action, and your inspiring post.

  4. This reminds me a lot of John Gall’s excellent little book “Systemantics” in which he lays out how systems for solving things tend to perpetuate the problem and make it harder to solve. http://amzn.to/ax4xpP

    I didn’t entirely agree with Chris’ at ITSC over kids being amazing and setting the bar high. There were zero teachers from public education there to hear that message and I can’t get past the fact that being amazing is firmly tethered to opportunity. I also can’t see any evidence that Apple iTunes is the ‘gateway to curriculum’.

    Looking forward to ISTE, see if our colonial cousins are solving problems, or just getting better at consulting on them.

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