I was inspired by this blog by Anne Collier, which was written in response to Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur. I am part way through this book and felt as though it was time for a brief rant. In his book, Andrew argues that all of the with the millions of people using the social web we are creating a plethora of poor content. Further, he persuades readers by claiming that mediocre pieces distract from the important research and creations that professional organizations create. While this is true to some degree, it doesn’t out whiegh the benefits we reap from this new age of media.
In response to the cloud of gloom that Mr. Keen blows over the idea of online creation and participation, I offer these reasons of why I see web 2.0 tools to be an integral part of education as we continue to live our days on this planet. I believe that these tools provide both the teacher and student with new opportunities that rarely existed in schools as recently as 3 years ago. These web 2.0 tools open the vault that is active student directed participatory learning. Users are encouraged to participate, to produce for an audience, to collaborate with peers and experts in virtual spaces. Often like minded folk share highlights of successful pedagogies and practice. Teachers are using web 2.0 tools to empower and engage students in these new skills. It must be understood that in order to do this successfully they must be willing slowly adopt tools into their personal tool belt in a methodical and reflective process. It must be understood that these tools are not going to go away until a new media invention makes them irrelevant.
Good teachers will realize will promote these tools in classes because they provide another reason to reinforce fundamental life lessons of etiquette, morals, values and privacy. By having dialog about these concepts with regards to the tools, students are given opportunity to reflect upon and evaluate their real life morals and values. In our role as as the grand sage we strive to mold learners to practice self assessment to continually strive to produce quality examples of their learning.
In some ways, I agree with Mr. Keen, that their is much rubbish floating around this WWW. It is time we began to investigate how these tools can be used not only by our students but by society. In the past I mentioned that I don’t hold the crystal ball, but I don’t see social media evaporating soon. My complaint is that Mr. Keen does not offer suggestions to improve the social web. Nor does he aptly recognize the positive contributions of amateur participation to society in terms of learning, discovery and collaboration. As the world shrinks we need to adapt. Let us talk about how we are going to do that.