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Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0

I read You Are Not a Gadget: The Continuing Case Against Web 2.0.

You are not a moron. If you realize that Web 2.0 is but a stepping stone in the evolution of the WWW. Next step? The semantic Web.

[image source, used under CC licence]

Is Web 2.0 perfect? It is not. But it is a huge leap from Web 1.0 in that it allows everyone with the means to create and critique easily. This in turn creates LOTS of content online.

We then need to make sense of this information explosion. That is where Web 3.0 comes in. Here is a quick and dirty comparison of Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

That was my favourite quote from Polivka’s recent blog entry. Simple but true.

Call it what you will, crowdsourcing or the wisdom of crowds, it is here to stay and evolve. Information, knowledge and power lie not only in the Internet, but also in the people and the connections between people that network via the Internet.

As usual, the education world is among the last to acknowledge it. Never a day goes by when an RSS feed lets me know of some organisation or other using the 2.0 moniker. For example, the National Computing Centre in the UK has an article on how Web 2.0 has changed the face of education. It’s not a recent article, but it is practically a template for educational institutions who are trying to adapt to Web 2.0.

But I want to go beyond creating awareness. I am a matchmaker and I work towards educators embracing it!

I found this Vimeo video from a ReadWriteWeb article, You Can’t Squeeze Knowledge From a Pixel.

Video source

It has little to do with education. However, it reminded me of something I try to emphasize in the ICT course that I facilitate and am now harping on in the EdPsyII course. What makes learning meaningful is context, not isolation.

I think that teachers or curriculum planners often remove context and complexity from a problem because they think that learners cannot handle the cognitive load. As a result, the problem is simplified into what seems like more manageable chunks, but it is devoid of context. Another result is that the issues that contribute to that problem get compartmentalized and isolated from one another.

For example, the complex skill of integrating technology in education might require content knowledge, technology skills and pedagogical approaches to be blended into a coherent whole. But we tend to teach these separately because each component is so complex.

I think doing this is acceptable as long as learners get to synthesize in context. So instead of simply asking my trainees to plan for technology integration (and thus show me head knowledge), I ask them to actually teach that topic via a demonstration. I also get them to sell their ideas via a walkabout format of presentation. They are teachers after all and designing, implementing, reflecting and strategizing is their context.

In new version of the EdPsychII course that I facilitate, I notice the broad topics of classroom management and inclusiveness again broken down into parts. There is the potential the pieces to remain disjointed.

To counter that, I am requiring all five of my classes to choose a subtopic and start writing about them from the first week of class. They will not only gain expertise in one area and teach their peers about their topic, they will also be able to critically examine a particular week’s topic from their lens. (We are using a Google wiki and Google Docs to do this.)

For example, classroom rules and routines are normally an individual teacher’s domain. However, they could also think about how their individual biases (personal pedagogies) and how school or cultural norms (collaboration and support) shape what they how they do this.

Facilitating this process is not easy. Learning this way is not easy either. But I think this approach will promote both creative and critical thinking. I also think that my trainees will be better teachers as they will think and act more collaboratively and systemically rather than individually.

But that is only what I think. The next few weeks are about putting these principles into play. Let the fun begin!

For two of my classes, this week marks the end of the ICT course. The other two classes have two more weeks to go as they are in another programme.

If you ask me, I think they should all move at a slower pace so that they have time to let things simmer or sink in. We rush-rush-rush in Singapore. To use something near and dear to the hearts of Singaporeans, the way we do things is like fast food: Quick, but not good in the long run.

But I digress. As usual, the end-of-semester feeling is bittersweet. I normally heave a sigh of relief because facilitating the course is a lot of work. But it is work that I enjoy, so I miss it. I will even miss the unending RSS and email updates that I get from the group blogs and our course wiki.

This semester, however, is more bitter than sweet because I have been asked to teach an inter-semester course (it straddles the vacation break in December). Due to the shortage of folks who can teach EdPsych 2 (EP2) and the larger trainee teacher intake, I have to put on another hat next week. That’s right, one course ends and another begins!

The worst part for me is that since I am taking next semester’s load this year, I won’t be required to teach my favourite ICT course next semester. To add to the bitter taste, I will not be able to follow up with the trainees under my care during practicum.

But I’d rather look at the opportunities rather than the obstacles. I plan on integrating other Web 2.0 tools in EP2. As schools here will adopt Google Apps by the end of the year, I plan on integrating the online suite as much as I can with all five of my classes. I might also set up an online feedback/response system to encourage the wallflowers to bloom.

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In the meantime, I can look back at the educational gaming sessions (opens up a VoiceThread) and their walkabout presentations (hosted on YouTube and more to come) at the MxL. Ah, the good times!

I followed Tuck Soon’s tweets as he attended a briefing on baseline ICT standards for students. His culminating tweet:

Baseline ICT Pupil Standards in Singapore Notice the huge emphasis on Microsoft Office and lack of Web 2.0 #edtech

In light of all Singapore schools adopting Google Apps for Education by the end of this year and the need to teach 21st century skills, I fear that some folks might still be in the dark. Let me shed some light.

Teaching students how to word process in MS Word and in Google Docs might seem to be no different. However, a fundamental difference is that Google Apps is online and these documents, presentations and spreadsheets can be more easily and collaboratively created.

This collaboration can take place asynchronously or synchronously. Not only must students be technologically literate to take advantage of this, they must be information and socially literate as well. By these latter two traits I mean that they must be able to, for example, analyze and evaluate a written artefact and then decide how best to edit it while socially negotiating meaning and not treading on others’ toes.

These 21st century skills are better taught with Web 2.0 tools like Google Apps than with the standalone MS Office suite (even MS is going online with the 2010 version of Office). Students learn to collaborate across time and borders. They must create and critique while managing their differences in expectations, culture, language, etc. The technical affordances of Google Apps (and Web 2.0 in general) allows learners to do this easily. MS Office does not.

BTW, I do not have a bone to pick with MS. But I do take issue with folks who set standards that are no longer relevant.

Two days ago, I tweeted MOE’s press release on how all schools here were adopting cloud computing in the form of Google Apps. I thought that was wonderful news.

What do other people think of it? Chris Dawson who is far away in Massachusetts and a fan of Google Apps seemed pleased for us, but he had this concern:

With the relatively high number of homes with computers and broadband access in Singapore, one has to wonder when communication and collaboration via Apps will be encouraged among students.

I too share that concern. The technology should be placed squarely in the hands of learners and the pedagogy in the that of the teachers. (Of course, the teachers should use Google Apps too!)

Students need to explore, create and critique. Teachers need to design, implement and manage. In theory at least.

One barrier will be mindsets. Cloud computing is the return to the mainframe-terminal model of computing. Everything is stored online in the cloud. People will find it hard to let go of their standalone copies of MS Office tools sitting in their hard drives.

Cloud computing allows one to share and collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously. Instead of working in selfishly in silos, we can work more openly beyond what we currently perceive as borders. This is the future of the way our students will work, so I think that the adoption of Google Apps is one step in the right direction.

But let us deal with the mindsets, particularly that of teachers. Let us provide professional development, not just on the technologies but also on the pedagogies that facilitate learning as enabled by the technologies. Just as important: Let us in NIE, the only teacher preparation institute in the country, have Google Apps too!

I just watched this video on YouTube which was done in the style of the Did You Know videos.

Video source

It says a lot, but I hope that they provide links to the sources of the statistics in the video to back themselves up.

After all, that is what the Did You Know creators did. And while Gen Y and Gen F increasingly get their news and information from sources like YouTube, they must learn to consume critically.

I’ve had a Netvibes account ever since Netvibes promised new ways of pulling and pooling content. But I abandoned it a while back when it did not deliver as much as I wished. I have renewed my interest in it because of a helpful comment from a visitor to my blog recently.

As a result of the suggestion, I have created publicly-accessible pages to all of my teacher trainees’ group blog entries and comments (see screenshot below, click for larger version).


What I like about the Netvibes format is that I can share not just the initial entries of my trainees but also their comments and responses. If they do not wish to subscribe via RSS, the URLs to those pages gives them a one-stop shop to get updates on what the other groups are discussing.

Of course they can visit their peer groups’ blogs directly, but new comments are not obvious. Furthermore, by visiting a page that gives them both a bird’s eye view and detailed views of their blogosphere, they can see who is contributing, who is not, what is being shared, etc.

Want to know how to do this yourself? Check out the Thinking Stick.

Now if there only some way to be able to “star” and markup select postings or comments like you might do in Google Reader or Kwout. This would allow me to highlight key concepts in the online space.

Ever wonder what the RSS feeds of my classes looks like?

I use Google Reader to follow the entries and comments in group blogs maintained by my teacher trainees. I also use Vienna on my Mac to track the total counts or to archive good postings (click image below to view larger version).


I opted to rename the feeds so that it makes sense to me. Instead of retaining the name of the blog, I label them by their course, tutorial group and subgroup. I keep track of the comments too because that is where the fun really begins!

BTW, the list of feeds might look long, but it is markedly shorter if you think about how I used to follow individual blogs of all my trainees in previous semesters!

New to RSS? Learn more about RSS at our class wiki. Then import the feeds using this XML file (right-click and save).

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I’ll admit that I did not know what this year’s National Day Parade theme song (above) was because I don’t watch MediaCrap/MediocreCorp TV. I listened to and watched mrbrown’s remix first as soon as it was released (below) and then decided to look for the original.

Video source

I highlight these videos not to weigh in on “matters of national importance” but on one effect of Web 2.0. It’s largely about remixing what you find. This has already begun to challenge our notions of copyright, plagiarism, and intellectual property amongst other things.

The traditional way of doing things when “standing on the shoulders of giants” is to cite them. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Web 2.0 way of doing things is to mash things up, i.e., incorporating the work of others before you, and letting the Web denizens decide its worth. There is a certain transparency, democracy and even savagery in the latter process when the crowd critiques your work. I think that it is no less rigorous than being grilled by experts.

The other thing that struck me about the difference between the two videos was how, to date, the few-men show has garnered more views than the officially-backed version. Experts (specially chosen committees) don’t necessarily know what the people want to watch. People on the ground do.

Experts don’t necessarily make the best decisions too. After all, some committee or other decided that this year’s NDP theme should be “Come Together”. And the people on the ground sniggered.


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