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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What is the Future of 2.0

Nate Lowell over at Cognitive Dissonance asks the question, Why Web? In his response to that question, Nate basically says it is for the art of it - specifically this notion of not creating something static, but something dynamic (such as a blog). This has been a good trigger for me as I start to think about the sheer number of entries that have appeared in my bloglines lately about the facebook and myspace, and how this all ties into the next generation of the web (both in terms of what it will physically be and who will be using it).

One has to wonder what impact, if any at all, technology will have on the education system and the learning that goes on in it. Particularly when one reads pieces like this one, Technology aging in schools from Distance-Educator.com's Daily News. Then on the other hand we have items like this one, Tech Will Shatter Traditional Modes Of Education from The Committed Sardine Blog, which pull us in the other direction and tell us that this new technology revolution will finally revolutionize the classsroom.

I'm not sure where I fall on this spectrum. While I guess I am more of a Clark supporter in the Clark-Kozma debate (does media affect learning), I still believe that the kids that we have in our K-12 system these days are different than what I was only a decade ago. They have grown up digital and that has to have an affect on how these learn (as evidenced by Schools need to meet the needs of the 'digital natives' - JIM CRAIG, South Bend Tribune from Online Learning Update, Millennials at work from joannejacobs.com, and How to engage the Net Generation? from E-Learning Perspectives).

So where does this leave us? I think it brings us back to the realm of this notion of Web 2.0, or the read-write web - where content is not static. I don't post a webpage which I update every so often, but I create a blog that can (and should) be updated on a regular, even daily basis. This is happening in some circles, as has been written about in Growth of the Blogosphere from Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom and State of the professional blogosphere from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old. But to bring us back to my field of instructional technology, are these people simply the "early adopters" in Roger's model presented in Diffusion of Innovations? Are these people, myself included, the bandwagon jumpers - simply waiting for the next tehnology craze to come along so we can be ahead of the curve on that one as well?

However, in addition to the blogsphere (and I would argue more importantly at the K-12 level) there is the growth of social networking such as Facebook and mySpace (see Social Networking Sites - The Next Big Thing?). Sephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old has directed me to a number of posts recently that have been discussing the social networking phenomins of facebook (see What Facebook Teaches, Facebook Face Off, and Developing a Facebook/Myspace Bibliography) and myspace (see the significance of MySpace, Why the Young Value MySpace, MySpace hits home, "Controlling" Phones and MySpace, and My Space - Cheat Sheet for parents - and MySpace Analysis from Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom and Honesty about social networking from elearnspace as well).

This focus recently on social networking has kind of merged in my mind with how this will affect students' (I say students to bring this back to an educational discussion) ability to interact and network within and outside of the classroom, and also ties in this notion of Web 2.0 - where students dynamically control their own web content. This can be a funny thing, as the classroom can be defined in many ways. Are we simply looking at the four walls of the classroom? Or does that include the description of his daughter that Chris Dede provides during most of his keynotes that I have had the pleasure of sitting through - where she sits down at the computer to do her homework, her iTunes is playing, Google is open, her e-mail is open, five or six IM windows are open, and she and her friends collectively get their homework completed, along with getting caught up on the latest gossip and all of their advanced planning for the coming weekend - is this part of our classroom? What about for our online students, both at the K-12 and post-secondary levels, does their ability to network and interact online increase their learning in their online classroom?

Three more pieces from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old have started to look at these issues, maybe not with answers to these questions, but at least asking some of the same questions: 'Power Users' drive pedagogy: Research suggests tech-savvy students are having an impact in the classroom - Robert Brumfield, eSchool News, College students are wired, but can they connect? - MARY JANE SMETANKA, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune , and Online Groups and Social Loafing: Understanding Student-Group Interactions.

I guess the bottom line is, how will Web 2.0 affect student learning? Or more specifically, how will the social networking aspect of Web 2.0 affect student learning?

Tags: Web 2.0, Facebook, mySpace, blog, blogging, blogs, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, , , ,

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