Saturday, 2 October 2010

Reform Symposium 2010 [Part 2]

Steve Hargadon [Part 2 - Reform Symposium]

This has meant then that with the increase in participation, large numbers of people now take part in the online world who would not be participating before because of the barriers which were in place.
Steve then referred back to the concept of the need for a new story and that the "high stakes testing" as he called it, of the factory model, is no longer viable. Thus, as a result of all this,people are looking for a new story of education where different pedagogical beliefs have a role to play.

Steven then went on to consider the concept behind Creative Commons where he pointed out that we want to share and contribute and how this form of "copyright" is relatively new but shows the willingness of people to participate and contribute, which is related to what he called Volunteerism 2.0.

Three major themes appeared in the presentation:

First, "How we Find, Create and Consume Information"

Essentially this is the concept of "openness" and he used MIT as an example and explained that the value was not in the knowledge, athough I would argue perhaps, since MIT is considering a costing structure, that this could be a price tag for "shared" knowledge.

Second - "How we get things done"
It was argued that the internet was allowing for "participation reinvented" and was allowing for a "return to participation" of the era before television and the pre-consumer, pre-factory model. He argued that "participation environments allow conversations" around topics of shared interest and he used the examples of Flickr and YouTube and why they were so successful. The argument was that their success has come from their ability to respond to what their users need and asked for. Flickr started life differently from what it is now and the change was a result of grassroots pressure to provide other services. Another example he used Linux which is a "user generated operating system" which runs Google servers. This discussion led into the concept of Volunteerism 2.0. It is clear to me however, that while there clearly are pockets of volunteerism in non-western states, I feel the value of volunteering is cultural because there are many states around the world which do not place as high a value on volunteerism as in western states. For example, in Eastern Europe where the concept of "volunteer" organisations is, to many, an alien concept. Nevertheless, the internet facilitates new ways of participation.

This means that, the new story must be one which describes education and accommodates a wider range of pedagogical perspectives which demonstrates that the "High Stakes" testing story, as Steve called it, is no longer a valid one from this perspective. Hence, in his opinion the new sstory was the story of the tension between "Freedom" and "Structure" which he illustrated on a continuum.

He argued that the internet is releasing latent energy in the area of content and knowledge but that currently, we are very much at the "Structure" end of the continuum to the right. He believes that the education system needs to move more to the left to be more participative because in the current environment it does not release the human capacity which is needed. Hence, from this perspective the belief that education needs to be moving toward the left of the continuum, where students are expected to take responsibility for their learning.

Another way we get things done, is "organising without organisations". Steve used the example of the Tehran protests and that when the Iranian government wanted to stop the demonstrations they stopped the social media such as Twitter. But I would also add that, like any tool, it depends on how it is used, I would point to the problem of Flash Mobs where sms and social networking tools are used to "spontaneously" create a mob at any given time or place. On the other hand, Social Media is very important for linking support groups to individuals suffering disease and illness. This let Steve into a discussion of the long tail where things which have low demand below which it is profitable to supply in stores, etc. However, he pointed out that the long tail is where the most interesting things are happening, including in education.

Third, the Internet has also affected "how we connect with others". Steve pointed out that the fact of the matter is taht real-time collaboration is here now and that tools which facilitate that connectivity such as Skype are ubiquitous. Another tool which he discussed was Social Networking, specifically blogs which were first to allow someone to be involved in a conversation, but it has its problems in the sense of it being date ordered and can be negatively affected by comments. The next entry were Wikis which are not date ordered, and allowed for a more personal organisation. Steve pointed out that it took him a year before he felt comfortable using wikis, but from my perspective, resources such as Wikispaces, have made Wikis much easier to use and organise for your own needs so I don't really think the suggestion that they are difficult to understand can be applied much now. The next stage was with the entry of Social Networking which opened the door of participation easily because they collected together multiple web 2.0 tools in one location thus making much easier for the average person to take part in the conversation.

At the time of Steve's presentation, Facebook had 500,000,000 members which made it the 3rd largest country behind China and India respectively. Thus, Social Networking is applicable to professional development because it allows and facilitates peer to peer practice sharing.

Steve started his conclusion with these questions:

  • How well are we preparing students for this world?
  • How well prepared are we for these changes?
  • Are we still in School 1.0?
  • How do we get to school 2.0?
So, how do we move from School 1.0 to School 2.0? Here are Steve's suggestions:
  1. Be a learner; Learn about web 2.0 & manage change
  2. Keep your perspective
  3. Join an educational Social Network
  4. Take part in the conversation
  5. Collaborate in the discussion in moving to school 2.0
  6. Be brave - embrace the change
Next week, I'll be looking at Edmodo, Twiducate, Schoology and Edu2.0 comparing their relative pros and cons and discussing why, given our particular circumstances, I chose the one I did.


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