I was watching this video that has Alvin Toffler and his wife giving their views on education in the United States of America.I found it interesting especially when Mrs. Heidi Toffler said schools "should teach people how to think." Mr. Toffler expresses his belief that we should "change what we are doing[ in schools]" Watch this link before you read the rest of this blog. It will definitely be food for thought. I found it very informative, and I hope that you do too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04AhBnLk1-s&feature=player_embedded.
Now that you have watched the link, how can web 2.0 help to create the change that Mr. Toffler and his wife believes that schools should make? How can the Welcome to MY PLE! video be a vehicle that can lead to change in schools? How is what this seventh-grade student doing applicable?
In order for me to give my reactions to the Welcome to My PLE! video let me first look at what web 2.0 is. How is this form of technology applicable to today's teaching and learning environment?
What is Web 2.0? According to Wikipedia "the term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site gives its users the free choice to interact or collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumer) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumer) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies." All the definition may be found here.
How would web 2.0 aid the teaching and learning environment? Well for starters, it has been said that students are visual learners. According to Kimberly Stolhman in her article titled School Videos Appeal to Visual Learners "the nation's educational system has focused on text-based learning for generations, research has actually proven that humans process images 60,000 times faster than text. When teachers integrate technology in the classroom with rich multimedia, students can learn faster, retain information better and apply their understanding and new skills to new and challenging situations." (Go to the link to view the entire article)
How does all this tie in with my reactions to Welcome to My PLE! video? It should be noted that, this is a 12-year-old seventh-grade young lady using the web to complete her Science assignments. In terms of her being a seventh grader who is interested in technology she would be typical. She mentions the fact that she may get distracted, however, she knows that she has responsibilities. She is aware that there are a number of things to do online that may not help her with her assignments. She is able to use the internet effectively and complete her assignments. As Mr. O'Reilly's in his article What is Web 2.0? outlines, she has taken advantage of the offerings of Web 2.0 and have left Web 1.0 in the dust.
On the other hand, I don't see her in terms of the assignments she has completed, as a typical seventh grader. According to the Webster New Pocket Dictionary typical means "to be a true example of its kind..." (2000). Her use of the internet is definitely not typical. Some students are not able to use the internet appropriately. As a matter of fact, some students are not able to use Google or any other search engines and search appropriately for what they want much less to sift through the wealth of information as this young lady has done. Additionally, she is also able to arrange what she has found in order of importance. Believe me a number of students are not able to do this. Yes, there may be students that can do this, however, she is not the norm.
I definitely believe that she should be the norm. School is a place of learning. I am sure that with the right guidance to all students in school, be it elementary, high, and middle, this could become the norm. Without a doubt, a student like this would be welcomed in my class. She could aid those that are struggling if there are any. She has already published the way in which one should write a Science report. I am sure that she would be comfortable helping her peers as I guide the students. Steve Hargadon in his blog Web 2.0 is the Future of Education stated" the internet is becoming a platform for unparalleled creativity". This student is using the internet as a way to get her assignments completed as stated previously in very creative ways. As Mrs. Kim Cofino points out in her blog First Steps Towards Becoming a 21st Century Educator this young lady is using the internet to find what she needs. She is contacting scientists that she may never have met in her lifetime.
Additionally, I was excited by the fact that she was able to ignore the distractions that she acknowledged existed and get her assignments completed. I was concerned that she never heard from the expert in Australia that she had contacted. This could have made her not want to contact any other expert. However, she was not deterred and she contacted another expert in the United States who had responded.
Another positive that I found was the fact that, the assignments were all done online. As a society we are trying to go green, by completing assignments as was done by this student, we would benefit this cause.Everything can be viewed, graded, and eventually published if one desires to do so. As Steve Hargadon stated in his blog mentioned previously "the world becomes flatter and faster..." For one can be anywhere in the world and communicate and/or view items that they may never have been exposed to. This is what this young lady has done.
I enjoyed watching this student as she sought to introduce us to her Personal Learning Environment (PLE). She has the freedom to get the assignments done. She adhered to stipulations and guidelines. This young lady went as far as to complete additional assignments, namely the one that she did about the Box Jelly fish because she found it useful. She is thinking for herself. I am sure that Mrs. Toffler would have been proud about that (See the initial link). She is being creative. She is what the future of the teaching and learning should be like. At the end of the day teachers want their students to do well, and for their students to be proud of their accomplishments. Let us as educators use technology where available to us at our individual schools to impart our course(s) information.