Web 2.0 Tools

lj user Dokuritsu pointed me to this video from an anthropology professor at KSU: YouTube – Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us It’s a stylish, elegant video with kinda cool background music, demonstrating how a variety of new Internet tools — tags, mashups, search, browse, XML and RSS — are changing both what the Web does, and what we do with it, and how we’re possibly becoming new people as a result. There’s a lot of background materials from anthropology and ethnography websites, because of the creator’s specific purpose, but this seems anti-Prime Directive, in the sense that this video is a creative act which seems specifically designed to change the cultural attitudes of its creators. It got to me, as well, that the video is licensed under Creative Commons rules. It seems more powerful, in a sense, that this elegant work was created with the express purpose of releasing it — letting go of copyright.

One of the related links on YouTube was this video: YouTube – Web 2.0, which allegedly is supposed to teach teachers how to make use of Web 2.0 for educational purposes using the entry on Web 2.0 from Wikipedia. This one seems more pedestrian than the first video, but it is still useful for understanding what is going on.

And then there are these Self-Replicating Repairing Robots, which are sort of creepy. Given that I don’t see hands putting the pieces on those little blocks, I don’t know whether this is stop-motion photography or not. Having seen these videos all on the same day, I think there’s an important connection here. I’m just not sure what it is.

I’m still considering this guy my hero: Sir Ken Robinson (on TED Talks) He’s absolutely right, that there needs to be more creativity in what I teach, and how I teach. There’s a tremendous amount of talent and skill in the world which is being tremendously squandered. I see it in my students, who know how to play guitar and sing and play video games, and I have no idea how to teach them to be creative, while still requiring them to write and read every night.

There’s also Wade Davis (on TED Talks), talking about the Ethnosphere (his definition is “the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.” He’s amazing, too. I happen to agree with a lot of what he says… I just don’t know how to teach what he’s talking about in this school. But the massive die-off of languages he speaks of, the tremendous cultural wealth of the planet, is dying under the pressures of technology. Will Web 2.0 save it? How? When?

Of course, there’s the old Hollywood way of doing things, such these folks who created a Pop Star created a reasonably believable pop sensation out of practically nothing.

It seems that the Internet is revolutionizing communications in a way that no technology since Gutenberg had done. That it would start a Renaissance, and by extension a Reformation (and likely a counter-reformation). It’s uncovering frauds, in the same way that Martin Luther exposed the hypocrisies of Archbishop Otto. It’s raising up new stars who have mastered new tools, in the same way that the Van Ecyks made use of the new oil paints. And it’s presenting new risks that no one could have imagined even fifty years ago. One could argue that the pressures on nation-states today exist because people want to be connected in these ways, even as they fear these new connections. We’re seeing the acceleration of a conflict between proponents of new technologies and proponents of the old ways of doing business/government/technology/science/life.(Here I reference Steve Job’s article from earlier today, “Thoughts on Music”.)

But all of this means that education is going to have to change. At the moment, we structure schools, as Ken Robinson says, with maths and sciences at the top, Language and Literature and history in the middle, the arts at the bottom. But it’s not working. Kids are bored in school because school, as it exists now, was designed in the 1800s to teach factory workers; and before that it was designed to find priests for the cathedrals, and chancellors for the royal bureaucracies. Is something like DiscoverySchool the answer? Maybe Curriki or Wikispaces or FundingFactory is the answer… but somehow I don’t think so.

And of course, my school is spending huge amounts of money to block porn sites and Facebook and MySpace, and AIM, and other kinds of web-services. We block a lot of them from blogging (assuming they even know what it is), and we don’t encourage them to contribute to wikis or other collaborative tools (which might make teaching them editing skills easier).

How do you design a new kind of school? How do you create School 3.0, to take advantage of Web 2.0?

(Crossposted to my .Mac website).


  1. No, but I’ve got an idea about how it works… there’ve been similar simulations in large groups as a way to teach cultural tolerance for years, and there are similar programs that Church youth groups use to explore/explain why missionary work is so important… and to teach basic diplomacy and youth-UNs… and so on.

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