March 23, 2006

Harnessing the New Shape of Information…David Warlick

These are my notes from David Warlick’s session.
The fact that this session is very full tells me people are hungry for ideas about the Read/Write Web.

David’s presentation is all about the way these new tools are changing information. As a preliminary, David explained how his material is all online and in addition, has a wiki available for global editing and collaboration. A note taking feature is also attached to the wiki so anyone can include their notes. Will Richardson, who is sitting right in front of me is already placing notes on the wiki. A good number of people didn’t know what a wiki was.

David shows us 4 gray scale images and us if we can recognize them. Most couldn’t recognize more than 2. He asked everyone to share what they knew. “How many learned one by asking their neighbour?” Most said they did. A simple but great activity for demonstrating the power of collaboration. I might steal that one.

His son plays the Euphonium. He shows us the article in wikipedia and poses the question about whether or not it should be used. Classic responses around trust, credibility, authorship and censorship are elicited. Vandalism is fixed within 2 minutes. David talks about gate keeper issues and suggests using it with 5th graders and having them verify the validity of the article. Wikipedia now boasts 1,000,000 articles compared to 65,000 with Britannica. Nature magazine research concluded that the average wikipedia article has 4 errors compared to 3 with Britannica. Students can now be part of the global discussion. We need to teach students to prove the authority rather than assume it.

Mash-ups are web based applications built to import data from other sites. One of those visually demonstrates news stories that occur globally on a world map. David captured the daily map over the summer of 2005 and created a movie to show where news happened.

The long tail illustrates a growing market for everyone. David was able to publish his book 2 hours after it was written. He doesn’t plan to get rich but has been able to put his daughter through college.

Blogging began in the 18th century with pamphlets. The printing press allowed many people to publish. RSS allows you to keep track of blog entries and subscribe. He also shows how to subscribe to news feeds. We are training the information to find us.

Online bookmarking also incorporates RSS and tagging. Only 10 people have heard of del.icio.us.

David talks about the Personal Learning Network and his process of discovering others he can learn from. The idea of finding others through links and comments and finding powerful professional development.

The after the London bombings someone created a weblog and invited others to post. David shows some of the 2,000 photos that were submitted.

There weren’t many ideas here new to me but I appreciate the way David puts it together. I could tell many were quite amazed at the new landscape of learning. David and I entered the blogging world at roughly the same time and along with a host of others are experiencing many of these things together from an educational perspective.