From Education 1.0 to Education 2.0?

A few weeks months ago @cossie29 reflected on technological change in education.

So here’s my turn.

Used under creative commons licence

This is the first computer I remember playing on an at my school, an apple macintosh where we played games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? One of the students on my last placement remarked that computer’s memory is now less than 1 mp3 file. This made me feel very old so best we move on.

In year 9  I had typing class which was probably the same way my mother learned to type, over a typewriter with a surly typing teacher who insisted on using covers over hands so we weren’t cheating at touch typing.  Consequently I didn’t learn to type until year 12 when my family purchased a computer at home that had a typing programme and word processing.

Once I learned to type I could move ideas around, write half-finished sentences, paragraphs and come back to them later. Suddenly writing went from something I avoided like the plague  to something I enjoyed doing. Technology changed my classroom discussions from, ‘I’m sure there’s some interesting ideas in here but I can’t read them and your spelling needs work’ to having a dialogue about my learning.

That was huge.

Then in 1997  I was the first one of my friends to get the internet. My father purchased a 28k modem, a speed which seems positively glacial now but a new world opened up to me. I could keep in contact with a friend who was doing a student exchange in Sweden, search for information to help with my assignments, and at the risk of outing myself as a complete nerd, I was a usenet frequenter and also built sites on geocites.

IT WAS AWESOME.

So when the opportunity arose to do an Information Technology and Education paper during my second year of university I was in. The year was 1999 and this paper was the first paper that my university offered that was entirely online with most course material flying back and forth over email and discussion boards. Despite being an online class, most students still showed up on a Saturday morning to muck around in the computer lab. We liked the idea of online study however we were still so attached to the idea that learning must take place in a classroom at a certain time. Nevertheless we were all enthusiastic about the internet was going to do for student learning, it was going to be huge.

And it was huge, just not in the way we had imagined.

While we were busy using html code to build websites so that students could learn at home it hadn’t occurred to us that the students would be the ones building the sites. No we were too busy mucky around with FTPs, making picture links and coding frames (remember those) to even start imagining that sort of stuff. We spent a lot of time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of using online communication in education and we also spent a lot of time talking about the digital divide. In general our approach was that the internet was a great tool for teachers to communicate with students we hadn’t quite worked out that students would be the ones building and consuming knowledge. But then we were  using altavista as our search engine and Napster still lived.

Fastforward to 2011 and while the internet might have changed considerably in that time my teaching studies online to find that actually not much has changed.

  • I still write essays in word documents which although I can now submit via email are posted back with handwritten comments on them.
  • I still have exams where I write  regurgitate memorized answers to essays.
  • I have to fill teaching experience forms by hand.
  • I don’t attend lectures but sometimes I feel like the modules are lecture notes from the campus option have literally been cut and pasted into documents for online students to read at their leisure.
Is this education 2.0?

There’s a lot of buzz around the term digital natives, kids and teenagers who have grown up with easy access to computers and the internet. Most of them can use technology, or at the very least aren’t afraid of trying the technology, but have they learned how to learn with technology? I’m not sure they have. Being able to source information is one thing, being able to define your problem, critically think about where your information comes from, communicate your thoughts and reflect on the process is another.

Which is where teachers come in, we might not know it all any more (not that I think we ever did) but we do know about learning.

Knowing about how people learn and how to create the right conditions for learning continue to be essential.  Because the great rub about ICT is that isn’t about mastering the tools because the tools we are using now will likely be obsolete in 5 years.

Knowing how to learn with technology?

That’s a very powerful, yet highly underrated concept, which first and foremost requires that you use technology to learn.

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6 thoughts on “From Education 1.0 to Education 2.0?

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  1. I really enjoyed this post TT. I’ve recently read a research article discussing that change needs to come from the top down – from uni level through to EC. Initially I thought – What??? The more I reflect on this though, I realise that the article makes a good point. The innovative teaching and learning that happens at the EC and Primary levels diminishes as students move through the school system. For real change to happen, maybe it really does need to come from the top down. What do you think?
    JH 🙂

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    1. Perhaps it isn’t about top down or bottom up, but everyone doing their bit as the rate of technological change has been so fast that traditional ways of developing expertise (over decades) has almost become defunct.

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  2. I still write essays in word documents which although I can now submit via email are posted back with handwritten comments on them.

    Hmmm…. I loathe marking on screen, because it means I have to spend entire work weeks staring at the screen, straining my eyes. I find I can’t do simple things like glancing back and forth between two or three pages of an essay, nor run though the structure of the essay easily, checking basics such as fulfilling all the promises made in the introduction, or checking that the content in the essay is signalled up front, and so on. I could print the essay out, write the comments on by hand as I mark, then transcribe them all to screen, but that represents a significant increase in my workload.

    My preference is to read and mark on paper. If students want comments back in e-form, then we need to have sufficient support from our secretarial staff to do that. And as it turns out, most of our support staff are rather brilliant when it comes to all the *support* work they do. I think they would feel that they might as well be in a typing pool if we expected them to do transcribing work.

    Long story short: there might be reasons other than technological incompetence behind those handwritten comments.

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    1. Deborah,
      Thanks for your comment you’ve got me thinking is the problem still interface?

      Though I don’t mind writing in essays in MS word, like you I really hate using it to read through vast screeds of information (which I do for some of my learning modules). However I’ll gobble up a lengthy blog entry on some quite difficult concepts in blog form or on online newspapers..

      You’ve given me a really interesting and thoughtful comment through a blog comment, My question is could blogging be used as a form of student assessment? Would the feedback be more meaningful? What about using a series of tweets to capture an idea efficiently?

      Stephanie

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      1. Maybe the difference is that blog posts are much more conversational, and blogging is for the most part, something we do in addition to our work (recreation / self-education / participation in a community / activism / whatever)?

        Sometimes my students’ assignments surprise and delight me, but to be honest, the joy of teaching is in classroom engagement, and planning and delivering lectures, not slogging my way through a mountain of assignments. Maybe that’s what makes marking on-line even more difficult. No matter what, marking is a chore, and doing it on-line makes it worse.

        All of which makes me suspect that blog-form assignments would still be difficult to mark.

        There’s an interesting point here about good working conditions. If I find that marking on-screen creates serious eye-strain for me (seriously, it does), then before I am asked to mark on-screen, my employer needs to ensure I can do so without compromising my health. That might involve all sorts of adjustments to my working conditions and my work load.

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        1. I would agree that the conversational nature of blogs makes them easier to read however interface is also important.

          And also that we need to think about the implications for workers when we look to change things. However clinging to practices just because thats always been the way things have done doesn’t make any more sense than change for change sake.

          Stephanie

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