Saturday, March 7, 2009


For a while, I have been speaking to people about how the internet has transformed language and communication. I realized today that one of the aspects (for the good and bad) of the internet is affecting other areas of life as well, including (surprise, surprise) education.

The internet has shifted the paradigm of printing away from publishing houses and into the hands of the everyman. You (the phantom you) are reading this right now. Fifty years ago, I would have to have kept my ramblings to myself or placed them in a notebook and they might only have been discovered when the police were looking through my belongings for some clue to explain the unpleasantness in the pudding factory. But now, the internet allows me to put my thoughts out there without the intermediaries, filters or literary agents to decide if what I say is worth putting out there (or even "correct" for that matter). This has, therefore, made the creation of content a privilege in the reach of anyone and everyone.

So what does this have to do with education?

Well, it seems that the role of education might no longer be to teach the random skills and content of the classes. It might be, because we are integrating content creation and the interactivity of "web 2.0" that the greatest skill we can teach students is to be effective teachers. It might be that their role is now to produce and present, not absorb, so the ultimate test...the final content will be the ability of students to convey information to others -- a step past simply learning the material, retaining, analyzing etc the material. The highest order of thinking is not just integrating or evaluating, and not even "communicating" but actual teaching. The egalitarianism of publication which drives us to evaluate and consider the source, also requires that we become a reputable source for each other. The future is about writing a wiki entry, not just reading one.

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