Monday, March 17, 2008

Web 2.0 and 6 Thinking Hats

In the past 2 months I've been inundated with Web 2.0 tools. In this time, I have tried to increase my own use of Web 2.0 in the classroom. Additionally, I am taking part in two Web 2.0 experiences. I am taking part in a district group that is using the k12onlineconference materials and I am also taking part in an online learning group through a moodle space sponsered by EdTech Leaders Online. The name of the course, appropriately enough, is "Learning & Teaching with Web 2.0 Tools."
So to help sort out my thinking, and maybe your thinking too, I am going to apply Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats (free worksheet) to the idea that many people seem to be putting forward...that the read/write web is going to change the face of learning and the nature of education as we know it. Instructional technologists everywhere seem to chanting the same mantra. So let's look at all sides of this movement. I've created a wiki to allow people to add a response in the appropriate category. The wiki is called 6Hats2Webs. Please use the wiki to comment on this particular post as I want to keep thoughts categorized according to the "6-Hat Model."

White Hat-focusing on the available data:
Ok, maybe readers of this blog can send some data my way because I have not seen any specific data regarding Web 2.0 and increased learning, test scores, and understanding. I have heard and read many anecdotes about how cool these tools seem to be, how they seem to motivate students, how they connect students, and how they make students producers of information, not just consumers (the prosumer). I have had students work on collaborative projects in my own classroom (with and without Web 2.0 tools) and in some cases, the results are not something to be particularly proud of. I've seen collaborative work online done by other schools and again, I'm not all that impressed but hey, it's online, it's out there for the world, and look at the cool software that was used to make what amounts to a poorly done collaborative, shared photo album. So show me the data. I am aware of psychological research that says being a member of a study group increases college GPA. This is because some members get to be teachers and others get information explained in additional ways. So maybe I haven't looked hard enough for this data...but it surely isn't coming to me in my current personal learning networks.

Red Hat-intuition, gut reaction, emotion:
My intuition tells me that yes, Web 2.0, is going to have some significant impact on educational models. Why is it that so many of us are turned on by these, mostly free, tools? We seem to love working with video, pictures, and music but sometimes it seems we are trying to make everyone into Steven Spielberg and Ken Burns. My intuition tells me (well, maybe this is data too) that the world is becoming flatter and a shift is happening and it's only a matter of time when we will reach the tipping point and see the long tail of education. Can reports like 21st Century Skills and Tough Choices, Tough Times drive the changes necessary in education? Where does Web 2.0 fit it? Global student projects? I'd like to see a project between our local urban district (Rochester, NY) and our suburban need to connect to Australia when we have difficulty connecting to people who live 20 minutes from us.

Black Hat-what are all the bad points?
How many blogs have you started to read only to delete them from Reader? How many podcasts have you subscribed only to delete them from iTunes? What if our students begin producing all of this collaborative, shared, public work and no one shows up to read it? What if no one wants to be in your network?

Yellow Hat-what are all the positive, most optimistic outcomes?
Students get excited about education. Problems get solved as people all over the world work together. Education empowers globally.

Green Hat-how creative can our thinking about Web 2.0 get?
Can we create our own degrees and attend multiple colleges at the same time with open courseware? Can students move at their own pace through online coursework, getting certified at each grade level or course? If I am ready to take college math, why do I have to wait till I graduate high school take the course?

Blue Hat-how is process control maintained as a shift to the read/write web takes place?
Process seems messy, difficult. How does this shift take place without leaving some people behind? Will schools adapt, give up power? Doubtful.


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