Time to Consider 2.0

Yesterday, I blogged about our enjoyable night out at the Montgomery Gentry concert.  I tried to talk about the difference between Concert 1.0 and Concert 2.0, because to me, there was a big difference.  I’ve also had the opportunity within the past week to read Miguel Guhlin’s blog entry “Question Everything” and Richard E. Miller and Paul Hammond’s post “How to Tell if You’re Receiving 1.0 Support“.  I would suggest to you that both of these are excellent readings and I suggest your response should be a call to action for classroom technical reform.  Both of these readings reminded me once of working the OSAPAC booth at an ECOO conference. A young lady pulled me away and wanted a copy of a licensed title that she’d heard so much about for primary mathematics.  All she wanted was a copy for her memory key so that she could use it with a couple of students who were having real difficulties with mathematics.  When I told her that she had to go to her district’s OESS representative to get it, she broke down crying.  In her district, computers are “imaged” once every three years and so those kids that could use it now would be in Grade 5 by the time it was installed in her classroom.

So, back to the concert.

There were lots of people in the audience – the hall sits something like 5000 people.  Like most events, people would like a keepsake for the night and so there were cameras and phones and smart phones taking in the imagery all over the hall.  I used my Android phone to snap a couple before I put it away and enjoyed the evening.  You probably don’t care.

I uploaded a photo to my Facebook page to share with my family.

 

Unless we’re related, you probably don’t care. 

I posted a blog entry yesterday and wanted a better picture for that purpose.  Looking at the image above, I realized that there was lots of black space in it that gave me nothing and the details could be a little sharper.  Normally, I’d fire up Photoshop Elements to do the task but double clicking the image brought up the Preview application on my computer and I learned on the fly that I could do what I wanted right in that application.  I’d never tried that before and was proud of myself for this new revelation.

 

Chances are, you probably don’t care. 

If we conservatively estimate that 1000 of those in the audience took a picture and did something with it yesterday, it would only be a fool who would think that they all edited it with the same software.  Some might do it right in their phone, some in their camera, some on a Mac, some on a PC, some on Linux, some on some web-based editing application – some might have tried some new technique – you probably don’t care about that either.

Nor, should you.  The goal here was that I did something with the image to meet a personal objective.

In my blog yesterday, if it was a typical day, there might be 300 people who read it and looked at my images.  I’d like to think that you marginally care about that since you’re here today reading this post.

For all the indifference outlined above, the end result might well be some sort of interest that perhaps 1000 people did something with their images.  Imagine in your mind’s eye that this was the world’s biggest classroom.  Under current thinking, would we allow this?  Absolutely not.  How could we manage and control so many people with so many different devices and goals in mind for the end images?  Could we actually allow someone in their seat in the classroom to whip out the device of their choice to take a picture and then independently go ahead and edit it?

Never in most educational situations.  Instead, we’d take a 1.0 approach.  We’d march all of those people down to a computer lab where we might put the image on a shared drive and we would step through a process of editing the same image a thousand times to give a sense of what life might be like “in the real world”.  Of course, this is based on the premise that the software was installed properly and ready for use, having been assigned to individual student profiles and the lab was available for us at that time.  If not, we could always do it next week and just try to pretend that we’re doing things relevantly and in a timely manner.  Ah, the real world.

Hopefully, you read the two articles that I referenced above and are nodding in agreement.  This isn’t a slam against IT Departments.  I managed one for a while and they are under incredible restraints.  Sadly underfunded with dated materials, they’re doing their best to make everything work to the best use of their time and abilities.  It’s just this darned real world that keeps changing.  If we could just lock everything down so that we don’t have to embrace any change, maybe we could get on top of everything.  In the meantime, we have students frustrated, parents demanding more, administration demanding more, and teachers crying.

There’s another overriding assumption in all of this as well.  “The end user doesn’t know what they’re doing or they’re actively trying to break the system.”  The second part may be true but I think that, in most cases, it’s just a reaction to controls and limitations put on them.  In terms of knowing what they’re doing, we’re really underestimating abilities if we buy into that concept.  Are all 1000 people who are working with images from the concert computer scientists?  Obviously not.  They’re just people motivated to get a job done – they know their abilities and their devices.  They use the best tool at their disposal.  What do they do when they run into a problem?  In the real world, you don’t put your hand up and wait for the answer.  You talk to the person next to you, a co-learner, or do a little ad hoc online learning to acquire enough knowledge to solve the problem.  It means that the individual takes charge of the learning and performs the action.  If it means asking for help or accessing a previously unavailable resource, then you do it.

I think it’s time to stop and consider just what 2.0 means.  It’s not just a 1.0 world with a tweak here and there.  It’s something completely different and it has less to do with wires and chips and more to do about people, projects, and connectivity.  Smart people need to sit down and analyse current practice and allocation of resources.  Now is not the time to re-invent the horse.  It’s time to take that horse for a last walk behind the barn.  It’s not going to be easy but a considered approach to what everyone is doing in the process is necessary if we’re truly going to announce that “we’re 2.0″.

In my own experiences, I lived with the lab concept which we were able to disband in favour of laptops and wireless access.  I was able to see an environment where we would invite students and teachers to bring in their own devices to attach to a ubiquitous wireless network.  There still is the mindset though that the serious computing is done with school provided computers and we wrestle with how to incorporate the non-school provided devices.  Are we in the real world?  Hardly.

We’ll only be there when we take a serious look at technology at the point of instruction.  We will only be there when we realistically embrace individuals bringing in the appropriate tools and using them effectively.  We will only be there when we realise that not everything a student will learn about technology has to be taught by a teacher.  We will only be there when we embrace the real world.  We will only be there when we realize that the personal computer is more personal than ever before.  The real world won’t be defined by the 12 pieces of software that we can get to work reliably over a network.  The real world has access to powerful web-based tools, and even more importantly, the number of people that care enough about our learning to join us in the endeavour.

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9 thoughts on “Time to Consider 2.0

  1. Doug, you must be using some kind of fancy-from-the-future* high-tech designed-for-learning hammer, because you’ve managed to hit this one particular nail so clearly on its been-waiting-for-so-long little head that its just been driven home oh-so-well.

    You touch on a number of salient points, and what makes this post work for me so well is that it illustrates that various elements of the system are not necessarily at fault, but rather operating from within the confines of a definition from different a time and role, now struggling to work to support true learning in this current day. The relatively recent arrival of the 1.0 and 2.0 metaphor helps to make this point using the current technological nomenclature, but when I think back a few years to descriptions of thinking and systems function, it is perhaps best encapsulated with the notion of Thomas Kuhn’s term Paradigm Shift , which gained considerable use in business (and from there, in education) during the mid-90s. (Considerable use, perhaps, but maybe not considerable application.) An unfortunate reality of paradigms, however, is that they tend to divide us, by definition, into those to “get” them and those who do not. Seating oneself and ones belief system within one paradigm can preclude one from understanding or seeing another. And so our current education systems and organizations can struggle to serve the needs of todays learners, albeit from the point of view of a system that was inherently designed to favour teaching. Sad, perhaps, if we stop too long to consider the horse behind the barn, but not sad at all if we (as you recommend) take time in our rethinking and re-understanding to remember the baby that’s having fun making bubbles in the bathwater.

    On a closing note, I think that one of the greatest assets that the education systems and organizations have to draw upon is that they are peopled by hundreds of thousands of educators who DO care. I would suggest that, as a group, with the support to collaborate and work together, our children will be able to benefit from the most wonderful learning opportunities that have ever existed.

    What a great time to be a learner!

    Great post, Doug!

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  3. Change is coming, but unfortunately at a different pace in some areas. Web 2.0 tools allow our students access to the most up-to-date tools. I’d suggest to any teacher dealing with imaging wait times, to find a similar web 2.0 tool that serves the need. Send out a tweet, and you’re sure to get several suggestions. There’s thousands of them out there.
    My students have not used a program loaded on our school computers in 2 years – everything is a web 2.0 tool. I found myself steering the horse (loved your use of that phrase) in that direction so my students could access all their work at home. As you stated, if they run into trouble, they problem solve on their own.
    And that really is part of the issue – some teachers are not yet comfortable standing beside their students, instead of in front. Some teachers worry that their students will move into another off-task site. However, Web 2.0 tools allow our kids to become more confident learners and risk-takers. With clear expectations from the teacher, students respect the learning opportunity they’re being given and so they do use the tools in an appropriate way.
    I can’t wait until my students can bring their own laptops to school. My own teenage sons are allowed to do so at their high school. That’s a sure sign that change is coming!
    Great post!

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  4. Truly a great post Doug. I read all of your musings-you have a way of painting a picture that anyone can appreciate, not just the artist. Or, in this case, the computer scientist.

    The Web 2.0 vs 1.0 issue is critical at this time in education. As I read your post, I thought of the discussion we were having the other day at the Growing Success training on self-regulation. If teachers, admins, SOs and everyone else were to model the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ idea, what I like to call the ‘let-go’ point, it would end up being those who DO understand and feel comfortable with 2.0 tech leading the way. Those who don’t get it would learn and wait until they reach the let-go point. Then they would be able to embrace 2.0 rather than fear it.

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  5. Doug,
    I was at a teacher/parent interview for my own kid this past week. The school, while in a very well established community and with a very dedicated parent volunteer group, is poorly equipped regarding technology infrastructure. Only a few years ago, they put a million dollar renovation in (windows, floors, ceilings) but alas, no internet drops and no wireless. It was not on the agenda.
    While at the interview, the teacher felt obligated to tell me that the school is getting 10 netbooks on a cart. While I am happy that the school is making some commitment to bring this type of technology into the school, I had to ask the teacher if he felt that having 10 netbooks every once and a while is going to help him address the changing structure of the classroom. We had this conversation as my son, sitting beside me, reading an interactive book on the ipad. Regardless of what we both felt was “the right thing”, the school is equipped for a 1.0 world. I later asked my boys to take me down to the computer lab – a nicely equipped lab, with a full time IT teacher. The students get one period per week in the lab. Last week they did Btstrips. The week before was Mathletics. Fortunately, the IT teacher was there, sitting at a computer with lists and lists of students in front of him. He was excited to tell me that he was creating a google account for every teacher and student in the school. I wondered if I worked at this school if I could use my own google account. My son wondered why he wasn’t allowed to use his existing account, if he “uses it anyway”. I wonder how much control the teachers themselves have over the use of Web 2.0 in the classroom or in their own practice.
    Just a thought. Thanks Doug.

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  6. Two things:
    If technology is in the hands of the kids, yes, there is a loss of privacy. That means texting and making videos, taking pictures, recording sound, collaborating on networks, posting, and publishing. That’s a huge challenge to public education: What’s public and what’s private? Our classrooms are private spaces, yet most kids yearn for more publicity, not less.

    I just cannot believe that kids are still taking hand-written notes. How do you capture a rich learning experience, including dynamic presentations, your classmates’ presentations, interactive online experiences, links to sites, visual records, conversations, dialogues; and also learning goals, consolidation, reflection, self-assessment, and thinking? The old hand-written note is not up to the task.

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  7. Oops, didn’t mean that kids *yearn* for publicity, just that kids already self-publish so much personal content outside of class. So classroom 2.0 does not imply a loss of privacy for most students.

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  8. Wonderful post, Doug! Terrific iteration of the thoughts many of us carry within, but unfortunately, too frequently suppress. We and our students run up against closed doors daily, mumbling a guttural, “Aagghh”, then rushing onward in an unplanned direction. Like banging your hip on the corner of a desk, saying “Ouch!”, then quickly forgetting it ever happened (wondering the next day where on earth that bruise ever came from!). Irritations successfully and mindlessly suppressed. Forging ahead on that sluggish ol’ horse.

    So, why do we keep the horse? Sometimes it’s because we still love the horse, sometimes we just don’t notice him anymore, and sometimes we simply feel that on this family farm that is only scraping-by, we’re expected to do everything in our power to keep him alive. I think we need to explore this expectation. Is it real? If so, who holds it? Can we change it? How? Whom do the daily horse-handlers need to convince of the horse’s poor health and inability to survive outside our stable? You could say that since we probably shouldn’t be anthropomorphizing our hardware & infrastructure anyway, it might be okay to allow it to die a natural slow death (no real horses were used in the creation of this scenario), while we build a new infrastructure to better reflect our changing world.

    Personally, I’m okay with the slow death option (of hardware, not horses) under the condition that as one era gradually passes, there is honest simultaneous action happening to ease in the new. Frankly, though, I’m so exhausted from trying to keep the horse alive that I can’t imagine being the Lone Ranger in defining what that action needs to be. I just might be re-energized, however, by participating in an enthusiastic collaborative planning session on how schools can move forward in spite of our obstacles. I don’t really have the knowledge to contribute a lot, but do have a tiny bit of input into the direction our school board takes…. I’ll do the “in” part, if others help me with the “put”. DM me if someone pulls a group together.

    This change thing is a tough slog! But, never in any other time in history has it been more possible to influence it. Thanks for your inspiration, Doug.

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