School 2.0 – Huh?!?

If you do enough reading about technology and education, you’ll come across this term – School 2.0. The term Web 2.0 has been going around for a while now (probably 5 years?). Web 2.0 stands for a breed of new websites (many of them now) that have changed the nature of the web. In the beginning, the Internet was simply an information and broadcasting medium. With new software technologies, we now have the ability to create documents and spreadsheets online (docs.google.com), create slide presentations ENTIRELY online (www.280slides.com) and share these documents with anyone we choose. There are other fascinating software applications on the web now. Apple, in the past year, issued a new slew of online services as part of their MobileMe (www.me.com) services that work just like software on their desktop computers but instead find their home online.

The shift in focus is really from an Internet used for information and broadcasting to an Internet meant for sharing, collaborating and networking online. These “2.0” websites will be the norm not too long from now. But what about education? The focus in education doesn’t seem to have shifted very radically even though our world is changing and has changed faster than it ever has. Looking closely to how teachers, including myself, have begun to use computers (for example) in the classroom, we see that we are just “upgrading” our old ways – i.e. using a word processor as a glorified sheet of paper.

I came to the realization recently that the VPU and Powerpoint is a glorified blend of chalkboards and transparencies. Don’t get me wrong, I use VPUs very often in my classroom and I enjoy it and my students do as well. I think the VPU allows us to attain better comprehension in our lessons because of the animated nature of it. We can teach the “brain” better because we can highlight words much easier and make them move across the screen as need be or quickly put up pictures for viewing. The brain internalizes visuals like this much more successfully than simple paper handouts and speaking. If you have ever seen a Smartboard in use, however, you will see what many teachers desire. The ability to QUICKLY write something on the board, manipulate it, change the “page”, save their lesson notes and shift between programs to demonstrate and teach all sorts of things is nothing short of amazing. I know you could use a tablet with a computer and a VPU and achieve similar results, but I would argue that simplicity and efficiency are important factors when weighing these options.

We need to change our thinking and, quite frankly, the whole education system. What we used to value needs a big upgrade – an upgrade to School 2.0.* What does this mean? Stay tuned for a future post as a continuation.

 

 

*School 2.0 is not my term.

Advertisements