September 4, 2007

Follow the bouncing conversation

Follow this conversation:

This conversation is really a great read. Start at the beginning. Read the comments. Think about it. Write if you wish or leave a comment somewhere.

I’m not sure if Stephen Downes is where this ends, and while I won’t attempt to do the in depth examination of Stager’s ideas, I will challenge Stager on one point.

The Web 2.0 tools promoted by Warlick and Utecht were not created by educators or for children. Educators hope to find educational applications despite having almost no input into the development of future tools.

I don’t care if they were created by educators or not. Stager has often talked about his disdain for educators embracing non-educators and trying to apply these ideas for schools. I don’t hope to find educational applications since these tools largely are about creating content. Many of these tools are the tools of not only the corporate world but the public in general. It matters not to me who has a good idea, insight or tool. I don’t need them to show me their teachers’ certificate in order to decide how it might help me in the classroom. I’d like to think I can learn from anyone including business people and other experts. In fact the use of tools like Skype, any of the the zillion Google products as well as ideas from Pink or Friedman are much more compelling to me than those so-called “educators” looking to sell me a textbook or workshop under the guise of their expertise. Most educational software in our schools is lousy and focuses on learning in a purely “school” context. Learning doesn’t have to fit into traditional school or educational environments. As Downes’ states,

Schools were designed for a particular purpose, one that is almost diametrically at odds with what ought to be the practices and objectives of a contemporary education, an education suited not only to the information age but also to the objectives of personal freedom and empowerment.

Personal freedom and empowerment doesn’t have to involved schools. Let’s focus on learning and learning shouldn’t be restricted to those labeled “educators”.

Let’s go further. Many often use the pencil as a tool analogy so I’ll use that as well. Pencils weren’t designed by educators. Neither were musical instruments, paint brushes, overhead projectors, computers, basketballs, etc….. We as educators see the value in using the tools and have devised wonderful learning using them. I agree as educators we must filter the ideas and tools in the context of learning, but we’ve been doing that for years.

Okay, so that’s my brief rant. Stager and Downes are much bettter “ranters” so read their stuff and be sure to either leave a comment somewhere or contribute somewhere, there’s just too much good stuff here to ignore.

[tags]stephendownes,jeffutecht,davidwarlick,garystager[/tags]