Friday, October 29, 2010

Schooling in a Web 2.0 World

Ben Sheldon - Flickr
Recently, I asked my high school sociology students this question:  "What should school look like in a Web 2.0 world?"  Leading up to that question, the students had watched several TED videos; Jimmy Wales' story of Wikipedia, Negroponte's OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) and Kevin Kelly and the Next Web.  The following is a very small sampling of some of their ideas, dreams and criticisms about school in a Web 2.0 world.

Mira says:  If Nicholas Negroponte, the creator of 'One Laptop per Child' can provide laptops for children in 3rd world countries, high schools should find the means to provide their students with them.
 (Our school recently initiated a 1:1 laptop program for the grade 7 students.  The other grades have access to a mobile laptop cart and two computer labs.  I took her comment to mean "other schools, not us".)

Jamie says: Additionally, teachers must make this adaptation to Web 2.0, as Generation Y and Generation X who represent 40 % of the global population are digital natives, meaning they have grown up with the Net and understand it extremely well.  If teachers adapted to Web 2.0 they would be able to teach more effectively as they will be communicating with students through an environment students are accustomed to using.

And Jordana says: In conclusion, in a Web 2.0 world, education should be an adventure. History class should be a virtual tour of New France, French class should be a video chat with a student from Paris and English class should have a new guest speaker everyday. Web 2.0 should allow us to escape the four walls of our classrooms and learn in a way that is fun and exciting. We have all the tools. We have all the resources. Now it’s up to us to utilize them and take education to the next level.  

We should ask our students their opinion about these important issues, especially their education.  Generally, students spend more time in the classroom than they do at home with parents and siblings.  They spend crucial, formative years in our classroom.  What we do (or neglect to do because we don't know how, because we don't have time to learn new tools, because we think our teaching doesn't need to be improved, infinitum) is going to have an impact on their developing minds, skills and personalities.  Teachers need to remember that.  Our work matters.  Our pedagogy makes a difference.  Listen to their voice and take some time to reflect on your own practices in the classroom.  Are you leveraging Web 2.0 tools for their benefit?

1 comment:

  1. Digital natives, now that is a term I have not read as yet... but it makes sense.
    It seems that going global is no longer only a business term.
    Schools can 'GO GLOBAL'.
    Say, WIC can adopt a school in El-Salvadore and (even if there is one computer in the class) the sociology class can connect and share/learn/teach (in Spanish) along side the co-students.
    How's that for a global village approach?