Monday, August 20, 2007

Web 2.0 The Dark Side?

In the Bangor Daily News of August 13th, there is an editorial entitled: Amateurism Goes Big. The editorial discusses Web 2.0 as the “birth of a revolutionary new era of cultural democracy,” and “ marking of the end to elitism and gatekeeping and a reliance on the wisdom of the masses.” It also urges us to be cautious.

As we move into an age where items such as YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, and the downloading of music becomes more common, and we depend on Google to locate information we need or entertainment we want, we need to become careful as citizens and educators. We also need to pass this caution onto our students.

The quality of some of the information on the Internet should be called into question. Are all the facts in the Wikipedia article really correct? Are the first five listings of my Google search the best information about my report? Does the YouTube video of the candidate’s mistake or outburst make him or her less of a person?

Andrew Keen, the author of a book, “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture,” that is cited in the editorial. He gives us this warning, “Parents and teachers and individual users of the Internet must seek out trustworthy sources and beware of hidden propaganda and deception. The Internet is here to stay, but it must be approached with skepticism and watchfulness. Just as the experts and the gatekeepers have their faults, so does the wisdom of the masses.”

As educators, we need to stress Informational Literacy. The resources of the Internet are a source of information and entertainment. We need to be sure that as consumers of the Internet that we are cautious about the information that we get from the Internet. We also need to be cautious about what we put out on the Internet. It needs to be fair and we need to remember that once something is online it doesn’t go away.

Things to Think About:

1. What are the good and bad points of Web 2.0?
2. How do we teach students about Informational Literacy and testing information on the Internet?
3. How do we teach students to be responsible about what they put on the Internet?

Editorial in the Bangor Daily News of August 13, 2007 link to Andrew Keen’s Book “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.”


Ed Latham said...

Thanks for sharing this article. I believe there are some serious problems with the way many in education are NOT prepared to help students decipher good and bad information from the internet. So much of past teaching practice has pushed students to get the "right" answer. Don't worry about evaluating the answer you get, the teacher will do that for you with a red check or a red X.

I see an overwhelming need to now get teachers to reverse this dependency on the teacher. Teachers need to instill more skills that allow students to evaluate responses with the multitude of tools available to the student.

There are many facets to how information is evaluated and who is doing the evaluation.

One student shared with me a story he had wrote. His English teacher had not liked the content and therefore the story bleed profusely with many negative comments with little constructive criticism. The student went out to his social network sites and posted his work asking for positive suggestions on how he could improve his writing. He explained his goals for the writing and expressed that some writing authorities had already told him that there was much to be improved but those authorities had lacked some specific advice that would help him improve his writing. The results he received were uplifting to him and he was able to take different opinions into account and transform his writing into a piece he was very proud of. This is an example of maybe an over dependence on teachers to judge for students. Teachers are used to being the sole judgment on correct/incorrect responses in the education process. I think that times are changing and teachers need to be aware of the shifts and how the world evaluates correct/incorrect.

So I agree that the editorial you mention is right on and that our students need more evaluation skills and they need them now. For those skills to be learned we need kids thinking at the evaluation levels. Looking at almost any standardized test, I have not seen any evidence that the testing systems, by which many public education systems base their goals and aspirations, have demonstrated any importance on evaluative thought in students. Instead, the tests have started mutating a bit from strictly knowledge and application into a little of compare/contrasting. It is a start, but our students need training now. More importantly, many of our teachers need training in how to foster evaluative thought in the classroom.

So you have a teacher walk up to you and say "yea I see your point and I want to know more about how to teach my students Web 2.0 evaluation skills". Does anyone have good links to share to help point good meaning teachers (with almost no time)?

Anonymous said...

You Go George!!!!!