Friday, February 10, 2012

What Has Changed about Web 2.0 in the last Seven Years?

I taught a Web 2.0 survey class the other night – one of my favorite classes to teach.  Discussing a yummy buffet of Web 2.0 tools with them, it occurred to me that this discussion has really changed since the first blogging class I taught seven years ago.  I was so excited about that first class.  I saw great potential for web tools.  However, within the first 10 minutes of that class, I realized I had come to my own lynching. The folks in the room were not there as educators.  They were there as parents, and they were mad and steeped in fear.  Were they wrong to be fearful?   Had every single pedophile moved from the playgrounds and the malls to the internet? Of course not, but the media sure had us going. Now that parents have their own Facebook accounts, I think all but a reasonable amount of fear has melted away. So, no more fear, or I guess  a reasonable amount of fear – that’s a change I have noticed.  What else? 

I asked Linda what she thought had changed about Web 2.0 and she said sharing and collaboration.  Web 2.0 Tools are focusing more on collaboration, instead of being used as stand-alone tools. Additionally, I see students being much more willing to contribute to the conversation both face-to-face and online. They have found their voice and don’t feel as awkward hearing it. I also see people taking on a greater degree of responsibility along with their confidence. You know the saying: what happens online, stays online.

I asked Scott what he thought had changed about Web 2.0 over the years.  He said nothing has changed.  The technology is still the same, but how we use it has changed.  We are more likely to define how it is used as opposed to the other way around.  Well said.  I agree!  (Yes, I just agreed with Scott.) We are definitely more savvy.

What else do I think has changed? Personally, I am learning to let go of the need to read everything that passes me. It’s okay to click on by – but I still have an extraordinary amount of information I want to see/know. So here’s what has changed.. We are learning to consolidate information in manageable formats by using a variety of web tools to aggregate so, so very much information.  And, because we have so, so very much information constantly at our fingertips, we don’t pay all that much attention to a majority of it. We don’t need to – do we?

Here’s why I ask; I came across a tool the other day called Check it out . It’s cool.  This group distills the “big thinks” that are out there down to their essence using a variety of multimedia tools.  According to the website, this process promises to help us “move from the information era to the knowledge era.” 

Hmmmmm . . . .  So, let me get this straight. They are taking a large amount of information and presenting the bits and pieces that they think are most important, most worth knowing, into one size fits all snacks. I like that relies on multiple world views to create one that can be easily understood. This supports the idea that information comes from multiple sources, not just one.  But does it get us any further in really knowing? Is the desire to “read” information gone, or just the need to “read”?  What about the desire to think? 

All things considered, being as busy and uninvolved as we are these days, this should be sufficient knowledge – the nugget kind. Just get to the point – that’s all we want.  Bullet points.  Boil it right down for me and don’t waste my time. But wait. Somehow I feel like I am being cheated out of real knowledge, and I am letting it happen.    So, here’s what I took four paragraphs to say, how we interact with information and what we call knowledge have changed. Yes? No? Yikes?  

Oops!  And here I am writing whole paragraphs.  Big Mistake! Ask Scott what he thinks about people who write whole paragraphs. He will say they are wasting his time.  No one wants to read anything longer than a bullet point.

In the spirit of bullet points,  Scott, here's what  . . . naw.  He quit reading this a long time ago.

There are more changes.  Tons.  Some are great, and some are a little scary.  But I feel for the most part, these changes are good, and all in just seven fast years, too.

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne


Scott Ertl said...

Believe it or not I did make it to the end... Long paragraphs are not a waste of our time I'm just say most people do not have the time to dig that deep into every topic so they need the bullet point to make a quick assessment. Now of course I read all of this because is was interested. I saw my name! It's all about me right?

Dana Sterling said...

Hmm indeed. It's so difficult to know which bullet points are the right bullet points.

I worry because some topics are really hard to understand unless you study hard -- ever try talking about evolution versus creationism to non-scientists, for example?

Not amenable to bullet points.

Also, how do you condense history? And whose history do you teach?

We are indeed swimming in more information than ever before, but I do worry about the quality of it.

My students, college students, mostly in technical/trades majors, are very internet savvy. They get Twitter, Facebook, etc. Texting is their 2nd language. They are happy multitaskers. But do they know what they'll need to know to make it in the global economy? To be participating in democracy?

I'm not sure.

I'm glad to see that some of the parental internet panic has eased, from where you sit.

danah boyd is my go to blogger on that subject.

Thanks for the post.

Lee Anne Morris said...

Hi Dana,
I agree - I also am worried about the quality of information that we take as real information. I am also a little concerned about the "information is knowledge" assumption. I might be more worried that we are okay with it. We just don't seem to have time or heart for anything that doesn't impact us immediately. I am as guilty as the next person.

Lee Anne

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