Web 2.0 and education – a good partnership

We viewed the arrival of the Web as revolutionary. Today we look back at Web 1.0 and find that it was slow, passive, formally structured, dense with text, inconveniently centralised in a static environment. Once Web 1.0’s copiously linked information and global connectivity was accessible on multi-functional mobile devices, a truly revolutionary innovation became possible: Web 2.0!

Web 2.0 tools, such as Twitter, allows user created content to be shared and distributed instantaneously, globally.

Web 2.0 affords users ways to become producers and distributors of “rich and multifaceted” information (Conole, 2012, p.47). The open, social and participatory media that made the evolution of Web 2.0 possible, allowed new ways to produce, communicate, share and collaborate information. The participatory nature of Web 2.0 technology enabled users to actively create, remix and repurpose content and to develop new practices of sharing it. The social nature allowed people to connect and encourage new levels of collaboration. The open nature encouraged building societal knowledge through collective aggregation and peer critiquing and encouraged new supportive communities of practice. An important contribution of Web 2.0 is not only the technological advances it brought, but that (through social media), human intelligence and passion is amplified.

Conole (2012) showed clearly how the open, social and participatory nature of the Web 2.0 environment changed the way that we produce and interact with information and knowledge, as well as how we share and communicate it. She also pointed out that, because of this central repository of linked information and the multiplicity of connectivity, the scale of user participation enabled it to effectively change all aspects of our society (pp. 47-48). It is changing the environment where learning and teaching takes place – redefining the boundaries between the traditional and formal educational contexts and the non-formal and informal learning contexts (p. 204), or, as she calls it the “changing digital landscape of education” (p. 48).

Web 2.0 tools allow for a more personalized learner-centered approach, where learners are more motivated as independent directors of their own learning: The learning environment is more social and collaborative, allowing for dialogic and peer learning and reflection. These characteristics of Web 2.0 align well with modern pedagogy, promoting a constructivist approach, where learners can actively construct their own understanding through experiential– and problem– and inquiry-based learning (pp. 57-8). It is a fertile environment where reforming new educational approaches, such as the connected learning model, can be collaboratively developed, implemented, evaluated and discussed by educators.

It can be argued that these new initiatives, such as connected learning, need the open, social and participatory media of Web 2.0 to be successful. Web 2.0 encourages all basic principles of connected learning: User generation of content support a production-centered approach. The open-networked nature of the Web allows interest-driven inquiry and exploration. Collaboration tools allow and encourage shared-purpose and peer-supported sharing and working.

Our school benefits from the advantages that Web 2.0 holds for education through adaptation of an integrated Google Apps for Education environment. Our students create, communicate, share, collaborate and reflect – seemingly seamless – on their Chromebooks, while their teachers collaborate, direct, guide, evaluate and assess in the same environment. What can be questioned is if this somewhat exclusive platform gives our students sufficient exposure to alternative tools and broad digital literacy. It is, however, true that students access their Google environment from other devices at school as BYOD is encouraged, or have at home. The Web 2.0 platform allows us important steps in reimagining the educational experience for the information age.

I cannot help but wonder how we will view this revolutionary Web 2.0, once it is replaced by Web 3.0 or another successor.

REFERENCE:
Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

The Information Age, Connected Learning and Digital Literacy

The information age
The advances in, and convergence of, ICT not only changed how we interact with information and how we communicate, but created a digital society that continues to influence and change every aspect of our lives. Ubiquitous mobile digital devices enable members of this digital society to be continuously connected, not only to the digital information environment, but to other individuals and networks that support and foster our information needs and interests.

The information age, schools, learning and literacy
Educating its citizens is an important goal of every society, with literacy a key outcome of education. (Education for All, 2006, p. 135). Most educational institutions in our society were founded in a pre-information society era and are primarily classroom and teacher oriented. Since the development of the digital age more and more significant learning takes place outside of the classroom – the digital information environment has an important influence on how, where, when and from whom we learn. I agree with the view that there seems to be a growing disconnect between what our students learn (what they are interested in and want to learn) and what schools teach (Connected Learning Alliance, n.d.).

Connected learning: A model for the networked society
The connected learning movement is concerned with reimagining a more valid and relevant educational experience for the digital age. This movement believes that effective learning involves personal interest and happens when a personal interest is pursued with the support of peers, experts and other knowledgeable and passionate adults and communities, and can be turned into academic achievement, career success or civic engagement (Itu et al., 2012). Connected learning, a response to learning in the networked society, is interest-powered, openly networked people with shared purposes, (including peer support) but also design and production centered and academically oriented (Connected Learning Alliance, n.d.). School is seen as only one node in learning in this networked society. I agree with Itu, however, when she states that teachers, school and classroom learning still has an important role to play in education: by giving students access to “a baseline set of standards, literacies, expectations about what they need in contemporary society” (DML Research Hub, 2011). What then are these standards and literacies I wonder?

Digital literacy
If our educational institutions, our teachers and schools are to facilitate the learning of our students (by providing such a baseline), the educational world needs to come to a common understanding of what literacy means in this digital society. I agree with the generic definition of literacy as the skills and abilities fundamental to successful citizenship, it follows that digital literacy must at the very least be concerned with the skills associated with consuming and producing information in the media forms of this age (Ohler, 2010, p.206). However, if technology continues to develop at an accelerated pace (as is widely predicted), and our lives continue to develop in this connected fashion, we should include higher order skills, such as systems thinking, information literacy, computational thinking, creativity, adaptability, global awareness and self-regulation and “learning to learn” (Itu et al., 2012).

The debate and lack of consensus consensus over “digital literacy”, indicate that the educational world is developing a better understanding of how to facilitate and support learning in the information age. New Media Consortium’s report on digital literacy is a solid start in this direction. I fully agree with their view that students should be regarded as makers, who learn through content creation (rather than consumers). I am very interested in exploring this topic and developing my own understanding of digital literacy in a connected, networked world.

REFERENCES

Connected Learning Alliance. (n.d.). What is connected learning?
Retrieved from https://clalliance.org/why-connected-learning/

Digital literacy: A NMC Horizon strategic brief.
(2016, October). Retrieved from New Media Consortium website:
http://www.nmc.org/news/nmc-releases-horizon-project-
strategic-brief-on-digital-literacy/

DML Research Hub. (2011). Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito on
connected learning, Children, and Digital Media
[Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuV7zcXigAI

Education for all: Global monitoring report. (2006). Retrieved from
UNESCA website:
http://www.unesco.org/education/GMR2006/full/chapt5_eng.pdf

Itu, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., & Rhodes, J.
(2012). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design.
Retrieved from https://dmlhub.net/wp-
content/uploads/files/ConnectedLearning_summary.pdf

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand
Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

Understanding the nature and scope of education informatics

Levy (et al) define the domain of educational informatics as:

“The study of the application of digital technologies and techniques to the use and communication of information in learning and education.”

This well-crafted definition clarifies the domain of study to be at the intersection of:
• computer science – application of digital technologies and techniques
• information science – the use and communication of information
• education – learning and education

My understanding of the nature and scope of education(al) informatics was clarified through the discussion of:

1. The ‘networked learner support’ required of the librarian in the computer-supported collaborative learning environment and the new perspectives needed by the profession to be proactive in establishing its place in the changing educational arena (Levy, 2003, p.303).

2. The design of online learning environments (educational systems design), requiring detailed specifications of learning needs, materials (including a body of core information and reference materials), activities and delivery methods (Levy, 2003, p. 305).

3. The examination of information literacy or “learners’ ICT-based information-seeking behaviour and skills” and the associated attempts to develop educational materials and methods to enhance students’ ability to find and use information from a range of online sources (Levy, 2003, p.300).

Reference

Levy, P., Ford, N., Foster, J., Madden, A., & Miller, D. (2003).
Educational informatics: An emerging research agenda.
Journal of Information Science, 29(4), 298-310.

The digital age and possibilities for re-imagining our educational system

The convergence of computing, information and communication technologies into one device, affordable and usable by most, has resulted in the development of a transformed information-rich world. With these mobile devices, we became nodes points in a global information ecosystem, socially connected in interactive knowledge environments that transcend the restrictions of our physical world.

Almost every aspect of our personal, professional and societal lives has been transformed by the tools and products of this digital age. Two important examples should be emphasised:

• New participatory media formats use web-based technologies to enable recipients of information messages to be active participants in knowledge creation. Interactive platforms allow experts and voxpop voices to join, in creating, discussing and distributing user-generated information products in many formats.

• Cloud computing makes improved productivity and knowledge building possible through immediate communication channels and tools for collaboration. These improved data storage facilities make digitisation of our collective societal knowledge and cultural heritage possible in online digital repositories.

The new digital age is having a significant impact on the learning environment: on when, where and how we learn. Multi-formatted online resources and participatory media enables self-directed, self-paced, individualised, personal and differentiated authentic learning. The role of teachers is changing from deliverers of content to creators of context (Thomas, 2012). The classroom, where learning was traditionally initiated by teachers, has expanded beyond walls, lectures and textbooks and can become truly learner-centred. Connected learning provides an existing model that makes use of the products of the digital age to re-imagine our traditional education system.

While some educators suggests that the students of today are intuitive and “native” users of new media formats and tools, we need to better understand the competencies and proficiencies that are required of learners to be literate in this digital age.

What now is the role of school libraries in this digital age? Libraries should support learning where and when it takes place. This means a dynamic, physical learning space and an equally well-designed virtual space, where librarians meet the information needs of teachers and students through curation of digital resources and tools and help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. How we will get there… THIS is the challenge that I hope to meet through my studies!


A VERY critical reflection on what I have learnt this far:

I am fascinated by the reading provided for Module 1. While the content was not new, I was challenged by so many of the authors to imagine how this digital world can transform our educational institutions and our thinking about learning. I am inspired, but that is the positive side…

It took far too long to read and grasp the required reading. I hope that as I become more familiar with the concepts and academic writing again, that I will be more efficient.

I have not participating in the online discussions yet, because the reading and setting up of the blog took too much time (I will do so this week). I believe as I find my voice I will be bolder, less worried about seeming ignorant and more comfortable with the tools we have been introduced to. I am very excited and in the right place, but still getting up to speed.

REFERENCES:

Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A new culture of learning [Video file]. Retrieved from
‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U’