Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Tangled Webs We Weave...

Photo from
In his article "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software," Tim O'Reilly provides a Web 2.0 Meme Map that includes descriptors which I think mirror what most teachers want to accomplish when working together in regard to knowledge management and professional development. 

One such descriptor is the "the right to remix." One of the first words of wisdom I received in my first year of teaching was to "steal" as much as I could from my colleagues. Of course, calling it stealing was a joke, because, in essence, it was a way to share information with each other. Many Web 2.0 applications allow not only for the sharing of information, but also give teachers an opportunity to apply and remix the information to their specific situation and they then, in turn, can share this remix. Thus, the knowledge database grows offering various ways for information to be utilized.

This growth of information brings up O'Reilly's discussion on tagging. Tagging allows for "the kind of multiple, overlapping associations that the brain itself uses, rather than rigid categories." A Web 2.0 platform can offer teachers not only the means to share their knowledge and remix other knowledge, but also tag the knowledge free of limited categories. I imagine many educators have had the same experience I have had where I was "told" to attend a certain professional development session because of the disciplines/age levels I teach when I felt I would get more out of another session even though it was "targeted" for a different discipline/age level. Rigid categorization can be eliminated in a Web 2.0 platform, recognizing that much of what we do in our profession has relevance and meaning to our colleagues who may teach in different disciplines and different age levels. Thus, there is a flexibility in how one can transfer knowledge from one situation to another with the use of tagging. 

Part of our professional development requires reflection, such as reflection-in-action (Schon, 1988) where teachers "think on their feet" and quickly make changes to how they integrate and introduce materials and methods in the learning experience. Additionally, just-in-time professional development (Schrum, 1999) is also stressed where teachers receive training and support that is relevant and meaningful to the teaching experience in which they are currently engaged. O'Reilly's discussion on open source software development practices mirrors what teachers do on a regular basis. This software is "developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed" even on daily basis with "real time monitoring of user behaviour." This is a similar development of the learning experiences in the classroom as teachers apply reflection-in-action and determine what professional development would be most useful for their situations. While the similarities between the development of open source software and learning experiences may not be directly linked to knowledge management, it does show how inherently similar the nature of Web 2.0 applications and the teaching profession can be. 

In his blog post “Moving toward Web 2.0 in K-12 Education,”  Steve Hargadon describes the current situation most districts find themselves in where computers are purchased and "maintained largely by school business offices relatively divorced from teaching methodologies." He argues that Web 2.0 seems "likely to change education precisely because it is a disruptive external change." Aside from the impact and change Web 2.0 has had and will have in our classrooms, when it comes to knowledge management and professional development, Web 2.0 is dramatically changing the landscape. Static learning portals that are password protected and sometimes difficult to even access outside of the school's intranet, are being replaced with open and global Web 2.0 platforms where teachers are retrieving and sharing useful and relevant knowledge. When one considers Hargadon's observations and O'Reilly's description of Web 2.0 platforms creating digital spaces where the user is trusted, password protected static portals with limited user privileges and strict upload protocols appear outdated and a poor methodology to manage knowledge. 

Finally, Millard and Essex explore Web 2.0 and educational possibilities in their article
"Web 2.0 Technologies for Social and Collaborative E-Learning". They explore the different ways that students can extend their learning by connecting to research and possibly experts. They also highlight a number of different Web 2.0 applications which bring to mind the various choices of media that students can not only consume but also use for creating their own products. Both of these features can also be applied to knowledge management and professional development. Teachers can connect with others, refer to research and present their own work to share in whatever medium they choose using Web 2.0 applications. 

No comments:

Post a Comment