Tuesday, April 22, 2008

more web2.0 evangelism

web2.0 evangelism:
Teaching at a Crossroads by John Connell

I call it evangelism because it's not really based on a foundation of firm contemporary or historical analysis

I agree with this response by ebcnzer (Mark): Cards on the table

I left this comment on ebcnzer's blog:
hi mark,

I liked your swimming against the tide comment. I agree with you that John's post lacked a firm foundation about the nature of learning.

My thoughts are that we need to look at this (web2.0 or learning2.0) historically as well, both the short history of computers and the longer history of modernity.

computers: There has already been a "computers in education revolution", namely, logo and Papert's constructionism, which has been and (almost) gone. I have a mental picture here of a time line from the 70s with glitter here and there along the path but with web2.0 advocates only being aware of the glitter in the present, seeming having almost zero awareness of recent history.

modernity: Enlightenment ideas have been with us for at least 300 years (and much longer if we include the Greeks) and in a sense they form the basis to the current curriculum. This is a longer discussion but needs to be had as well. How do we evaluate what ought to be taught in schools? I would suggest that the non universals is a good place to start.

4 comments:

John Connell said...

Hi, Bill,

I understand your point and your argument, but it would be more effective if you did not try to typify this 50 year old, who has been through all the same 'revolutions' in the use of ICT in education as you have seen as some kind of simple naif ("web2.0 advocates only being aware of the glitter in the present"). Nonsense, I'm afraid.

In any case, if you cannot see the difference in kind between some of those bits of 'glitter' from the past and the potentials of the range of web-based platforms we can use today, then I can fully understand why you see such 'evangelism' as misplaced.

Current possibilities are a very long way from what was on offer from Papert in relation to Logo and constructivism, etc, and a long way from most other bits of glitter from the past - I certainly never saw these ideas and tools as anything close to a 'revolution'. There was no 'revolution' because none of these things ever really changed the core models of schooling that we have been using for so long. Maybe they were never intended to, of course.

Bill Kerr said...

hi john,

Thanks for responding. I suppose you are right that I shouldn't make assumptions about about your historical knowledge. Nevertheless your last paragraph about Papert and logo indicate that perhaps you haven't understood him.

How should this discussion be conducted? Complex issues can't be dealt with adequately by the blog post and comment model IMO. Web1.0, wikis and books are what we need if we really are going to delve into it.

Otherwise it just gets too easy for me to say "web2.0 advocates only being aware of the glitter in the present" and you to reply "nonsense". Web2.0 almost invites that sort of dialogue, one where the imperative to write and respond overwhelms the imperative to study and reflect.

John Connell said...

The third para is definitely badly expressed, Bill - I took Logo very seriously for a while (my MEd dissertation back in the late 80s was on a comparison of the educational value of declarative as against procedural programming, with Prolog and Logo as my two focussed examples), and I have been most definitely in the constructivist camp for very many years But I genuinely feel we have the chance to move the constructivist ideals forward in the current context). I do not see these as mere glitter. However, I was quoting your use of the word - I would be interested in which developments in the 70s and since you might describe thus.

I agree, by the way, that the blog is not the ideal vehicle for dealing with complex issues, but I know of a number of examples of bloggers who do just that, and often, and consistently. Some of these, of course, back up what they do in their blogs with more substantive work through other routes.

It would be a pity to dismiss the medium because of the vacuity of much of what is written in blogs.

Bill Kerr said...

hi john,

thanks for clarification about your third paragraph - I'm impressed that you have done a comparison of prolog with logo

at any rate the deeper issues about papert and constructivism can wait for now, while we establish if we are both willing to have a real discussion

I've left this long follow up comment on john's blog -->

I reread your post following our discussion at my blog. Here is how I see it, an update from my previous superficial comment:

part 1: some broad generalisations, of philosophical nature, which I agree with ->>
* humans / technology is a dialectic, don’t artificially separate
* everything changes, the notion of fundamentals is dubious

part 2: description of the blame game for schools being stuck and not changing enough.
teachers resist Learning2.0 - agree
teachers blame admin and politicians - agree
leads to avoidance of change where change is desirable - agree

OK, as you say, these are generalisation and as such over simplifications but do provide a macro level description of something that is happening or rather, not happening - even though I would focus the blame more on the admin and politicians, as in the al upton blog closure issue - hardly an encouragement for those who want to initiate change at the grass roots (but I’m not arguing with you here)

so far: you have provided a philosophical framework for the need for change an analysis of a reason that change is blocked (the blame game)

At this point I would observe that the philosophical framework is an argument for continual change (I agree) but not an endorsement of Learning2.0 as something of particular importance. I can agree with your philosophical points here 100% but evaluate Learning2.0 differently.

part 3: you have a really nice flowing sentence beginning with “The nature of what it means to know …” describing some of the problems and issues in schools. Those points are valid but need more discussion IMO. I’m serious when I say it’s a great sentence but also this particular description of the problem is written from the framework that Learning2.0 is the solution or more precisely that Learning2.0 is the only or the main solution, the only player in the main game.

Your final points are that many students find school irrelevant and that Learning2.0 is the answer.

My critique here is that this blog taken in isolation from your other work (which I have not read) is magic.

For example, you introduce the key sentence I referred to in this way. I need to quote this whole sentence:
“The deeply social nature of the technologies and digital platforms available today, an ever-expanding set of tools that continue to offer new possibilities for self-expression and for collective expression almost on a daily basis, already puts in question many of the long-held assumptions that have been part and parcel of schooling for so long”

This is just about totally ahistorical - when you say, “puts in question many of the long-held assumptions that have been part and parcel of schooling for so long” it sounds like you are saying that everything in the garden was rosy and perceived to be rosy until Learning2.0 came along. Well, I now know that you know this to be not true.

I did debate these issues with George Siemens in February 07, my paper is here , where I do attempt some sort of historical evaluation of the new technologies - and have been pursuing those issues since then in my blog and the learning evolves wiki