Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.
When the World Wide Web first emerged as a global phenomenon, most of us defined it in 20th Century terms. Many Web users, including educators, still think about the Web primarily as an information repository--even though there is ample evidence it has evolved into something more. Today, as we surf the Internet, we see endless examples of the Web’s ability not just to serve up content, but to empower us to share our imaginations, insights and opinions. If we're "a mind to," we can add to the world's understanding and advocate for positive change.
Web 2.0 – and ultimately School 2.0 -- is all about this two-way or group communication. The Web is no longer just a place to search for resources. It’s a place to find people, to exchange ideas, to demonstrate our creativity before an audience. The Internet has become not only a great curriculum resource but a great learning resource. The second generation Web is in fact, laying the foundation for ideas such as Classroom 2.0, Teacher 2.0 and Learning 2.0.
Personally, I still struggle when trying to explain concepts that simply have out paced the educational jargon we have available to describe them.
"If you want to project a cool, web-savvy persona, just tack 2.0 on the end of something." - Anonymous
I threw the question to my Twitter community to see if they too struggled with the concept or term Learning 2.0. Here are their responses:
Jane Nicholls, " I can understand Web 2.0 and School 2.0 but learning 2.0 is taking it a bit far."
Christian Long, " I am not sure 'learning 2.0' exists if we're sincere about universal act of 'learning'. Tools are another thing entirely.
Paul Harrington, "In my case it is the term learning, as Learning is the pedagogy of School 2.0. I would call myself a lifelong learner - how I achieve it may vary along the way.
Ewan McIntosh, " Learning 2.0? No such thing. Learning 2.0 is mostly tried and tested pedagogy made more possible with tools that fit the bit: assessment for learning, x-curric, mixmedia."
I think Brain Crosby came closest to how I would spin it. " Learning 2.0 is shared knowledge, constructed through Inquiry based, networked, digitally enabled collaborative conversation, using Web 2.0 applications."
Goodbye, Seats and Rows
Web 2.0, or what others have called "the read-write web" (and most recently called "participatory media"), is transforming the traditional structures of many of our most important institutions, including (very slowly) our schools.
We have to ask ourselves: What happens to traditional concepts of classrooms, teaching and most importantly learning when we can now learn anything, anywhere, anytime? How and will Web 2.0 shape the way we learn- Is there such a thing as Learning 2.0?
Roger Schank's thinking suggests that, "technology is not additive, in that it doesn't change some things, it changes everything." If that is true, and I believe it is, then learning has to be impacted when we begin to use different methods and cognitive structures for processing information. As the evolutionary process of the technologies and learning strategies we use in the classroom change and seek to improve pedagogy in an exponential fashion, we are going to realize that the innovation (the mash-up of 20th Century teaching ideas) will begin to build upon itself and continue to accelerate to the point where what takes place in terms of learning in the 21st Century is very different, not just a variation of times past.
Because people understand by finding in their memories the closest possible match to what they are hearing and use that match as the basis of comprehension, any new idea will be treated as a variant of something the listener has already thought of or heard. Agreement with a new idea means a listener has already had a similar thought and well appreciates that the speaker has recognized his idea. Disagreement means the opposite. Really new ideas are incomprehensible. The good news is that for some people, failure to comprehend is the beginning of understanding.For most, of course, it is the beginning of dismissal.
Learning is about making schematic connections. Where we attach new knowledge to our existing understandings. The a-ha moment. Piaget calls it moving from disequilibrium to assimilation of the new ideas. Learning 2.0 for me is the jumping off place where we not only have attached the new ideas to the old and assimilated, but we have made peace with the fact that we might have to unlearn much of the knowledge with which we started. It is by developing an adaptive expertise that we begin to innovate in such a way where the innovation becomes multiplicative, not additive and that in my opinion is Learning 2.0. It is also the uncomfortable place where we find ourselves as educators- having to unlearn and adapt. Teaching today puts the teacher in the role of chief learner, who ideally is modeling these lifelong adaptive learning strategies for her students.
What's a Teacher To Do?
Think about it. The media rich generation of school-aged kids today have visually pleasing information at their fingertips – "input" that is constantly popping, sparking and competing for their attention. They bring the world into their brains via cell phones, handheld gaming devices, PDAs, and laptops that they take everywhere. They are truly mobile. And at home they "mainline" electronic media in the form of computers, TV, and collaborative video games they play with users from around the world. If they choose, they can go and live a Second Life online, creating an avatar to explore the virtual terrain of a complete world, with its own economy, real estate, entertainment activities and, yes, even schools.
Everywhere the Digital Generation goes in society, technology beacons. The future is rushing at them full speed ahead. Until, that is, they enter the learning zone (cue Rod Serling). When they cross the threshold of most of our public schools, it's like stepping back in time. As one high school freshman said to a national pollster: "When I go to school, I have to power down.” When many of our students are already building networks far beyond our classroom walls, forming communities around their passions and their talents, it's not hard to understand why rows of desks and time-constrained schedules and standardized tests are feeling more and more limiting and ineffective. We can almost hear the our students humming along with Pink Floyd, "Teachers, leave those kids alone."
Learning 2.0 is about these core components:
Knowledge: Realizing, that with knowledge increasing at its current rate "none of us is as good as all of us." No one can master all the content that comprises a particular discipline. Our job is to help students and ourselves become producers of knowledge and to help each other understand the transformative potential of Web 2.0 tools in
a global perspective and context. Learning 2.0 is about reversed mentorship and transforming our classrooms into learning ecologies.
Pedagogy: Creating an understanding of
the shifting learning literacies that the 21 Century demands and how those
literacies translate to classroom practice. Ultimately, 21st Century
teaching is constructivist teaching, using digital technologies and the
Internet; John Dewey revisited or Alan Levine's Rip Mix Learn.
Connections: Modeling for students (and in some cases them modeling for us) the creation of sustained professional learning networks where we can all begin experimenting and sharing with online colleagues from around the world. Learning 2.0 is about making connections to content experts and using the new tools for 21st Century scholarship.
Capacity: Today’s web technologies make it possible to build formal and informal human networks -- using tools like blogs, wikis, and social networking software -- to build human capital in our students in such a way that they become the visionaries for giving back to society in an effort to end human suffering.
Times are a-changin' - this is not business as usual, but business as unusual. But together we can begin to get our minds around these concepts. We can ask ourselves and each other the tough questions. We can let all the stakeholders, even students, use their voices in finding our way in this new learning landscape as we grasp for new syntax to describe 21st Century learning phenomena.