I’ve added a couple of great feeds recently – Webware and ReadWriteWeb – that I’ve been following. They have been talking a lot about the different “versions” of the web. There have been some fascinating discussions, particularly as the Web 2.0 Expo has been going on in San Francisco. As I’ve read these blogs, it’s been fascinating to see how techies envision the web evolving.
Recently in our district (as in, during the year that I’ve been here), there’s been a good discussion about employing Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. This is a great discussion to be having, and I’ve had a lot of fun partaking in the discussion – using wikis and Shelfari (a book/social networking site), as well as trying out some other stuff like this blog. But as I’ve read these blogs, I realize that what our speaker (Ian Jukes) said in a day-long workshop before school started – technology is evolving at a rapid rate. In fact, much of the things he talked about – using various interactive web technology – is already becoming obsolete in the face of what they’re calling Web 3.0. Without getting into the nitty gritty, Web 3.0 is the next big advancement in the way we understand the internet – the internet as a platform for other applications and services (think GoogleDocs). So what does all this mean? I like what one ReadWriteWeb entry said – there is no Web 3.0. There is no Web 2.0. There is only the web as it exists right now.
But how does this fit in with the classroom? My theory is fairly simple: we must understand the “web” as a platform. It is not the be-all, end-all, it is not the answer to all of our problems. The web is simply a means to an end; the end being understanding and skill development. However, this understanding of the web as a platform for education leaves us with another implication: it’s part of our job to understand what platforms we have available. We should know about Twitter, Shelfari, Facebook, MySpace and other important web tools, and we should be innovating ways to use those to enhance learning. As educators, we should be able to recognize tools that have educational potential (I’m a fan of Shelfari, myself) and those that probably do not (Twitter strikes me as lacking in this area).
But even with the web as a platform, we must continue to remember an important truth about education – being new and being “hip” does not mean that something will enhance learning in schools. Just because PowerPoint is used in the business world doesn’t mean that we should forego learning how to write sentences and paragraphs. There is still great value in reading real books, writing math problems with paper and pencil, and doing experiments with physical materials. The key is simply finding what tools will best help students learn what we want to teach them, regardless of whether they fit into Web 2.0, Web 3.0, or Web 0.0.