Last week, as I made ‘connections’ and established some pedagogical ‘relationships’, I was able to ‘compare and contrast’ my world view with my colleagues online; my ‘knowledge building society’ (Gilbert 2007). I established and reviewed my perspectives about using technology as an ‘intellectual partner’ (Jonassen, 2000), as I negotiated my way around Web 2 tools for enabling learning; Wiki’s, social media and aggregators.
Then, peeking beautifully around the corner, almost hesitantly, the concept of ‘The Semantic Web’ is making its way into the arena and I have to sit up and notice it.
From an information system to a contributory one, the changes have been many in the timeline of the World Wide Web and words like ‘Blog’ have made a firm home at the Merriam-Webster dictionary (Richardson 2006). With extensive applicability and smart marketing usage, Blogs and social media has substantiated and added value to instant and ‘real’ journalism, politics and social issues. We are engendering an open ‘community space’ which Berners-Lee had imagined and from a learning perspective ‘the Read/Write Web’ is bringing about a shift in the pedagogical paradigm. However, we are not there yet!
Although schools and universities are beginning to encourage their students to reach outside the classroom walls, most educators and institutions are taking a cautionary journey down the weblogs, twitter and ‘use-of-social-media-in-education’ route. Even though we know that it can radically change our approach to teaching, learning and curriculum delivery to ‘digital natives’ ( Prensky 2001), who are living in the ‘connected world’, teachers are hesitant to step into this arena. However, the argument around the incompatibility of standardised testing, government accountability and tools of the web are very quickly growing weak. In reality, most national and state core curricula reflect the multiliteracies approach required to help the prepare the students to become wise editors and collaborators as they deal with the onslaught of the reams of ‘digital paper’. It is a thought that resonates with a lot is us as we perceive the exponential possibilities of opening up the learning arenas for these ‘hypertext minds’ (Winn, 2006).
As ‘digital immigrants’ come into the teaching and learning arena, they bring a linear viewpoint; one or two dimensional, constrained, disciplined, non-connected and controlled. Jeter un oeil (take a peep) for a moment, how the ‘connected, multi-sensory, instantaneous and complex’ (Marks 2006) function in ‘parallel cognitive structures’ view the world; ‘My generation draws the internet as a cloud that connects everyone; the younger generation experiences it as oxygen that supports their digital lives’ (Marks 2006).
Shifting paradigms, we have the good news that a collaborative community has recognised the strategy to bridge the ever widening divide; use a toolbox of resources (audio/video casting, aggregators, social bookmarkers, wikis, Weblog etc.) that are tried and tested and help publish, manage and share content in user friendly ways. The encouraging thought is that the Semantic web only makes it easier as we share ontologies and databases and learn to ‘tag’ (Ohler 2010) with an ‘intellectual tool’ on our side.
Chapter 1 “The Read/Write Web” from Will Richardson’s book – Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.
Hsu, Y.-C., Ching, Y.-H., & Grabowski, B. L. (2014). Web 2.0 applications and practices for learning through collaboration. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. Elen & M. J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 747-758): Springer.
Ohler, J. (2010). Power AND Peril of Web 3.0: It’s more than just semantics, Learning & Leading with Technology. 37(7), 14-17.
Wideman, J., & Verbal, P. (2006). Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century. Group.