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.


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  • Dean, thank you for corraling the conversation – so far! I’ve written a post, but will hang onto it and probably eat it because I don’t have the time to put into really representing my thoughts well in this. Somewhere in the conversation I hope a classroom teacher voice emerges. – Mark

  • I’d love to see your thoughts. Your perspective would carry a lot of weight….with me anyway.

  • Cool. Now I’m almost ready to go back and read the longer thread behind this post. 🙂

  • Great post, Dean. I’d also like to point out that Gutenberg was not an educator, yet we continue to use textbooks printed on a press.

  • Surely you do not believe that I am advocating workbooks, textbooks or workshops – although many of your favorite authors earn a comfortable living doing workshops. In the spirit of full-disclosure I’ve spent 25 years working independently as a teacher educator, speaker and workshop leader. One look at my body of work and you can’t miss the fact that I advocate rich, authentic experiences and access to primary sources (for example: BOOKS) for children and teachers too.

    I admire many of the same tools you do. I use them. I teach them. I teach with them. That was not the point of my article.

    I was offering a hypothesis, by way of historical comparison, of why the tools that Web 2.0 advocates) are failing to bring about an educational revolution.

    It seems odd that so much personal identity and hostility is wrapped-up in specific computer applications.

  • I understand your arguement and while I agree on many points I don’t agree that in order for educational revolution to occur that it must be developed by educators.

    When you consider revolutions that occur in business, sports or other organizations, it’s quite often the result of outside agencies or perspectives that offer a new way of operating.

    I think many of the tools we use are forcing us to consider new approaches or at least a break from industrial aged education. I realize your point wasn’t to discount the tools but I did want to point out, in perhaps an exaggerated fashion that your point, when taken to the the endth degree could be interpreted that we need to focus on tools designed by educators.

    I know you feel strongly about educator’s embracing non-educators ideas/books/work. It doesn’t bother me and in fact I advocate their use.

    I hope I don’t appear to be hostile or personal. As you can see, I’ve promoted and enjoyed your work and will continue but on this one point, we disagree.

    By the way, I’d love to have you on the edtechposse podcast sometime if you’re interested…always enjoy your work; just don’t always agree.

  • Dean,

    It’s all good.

    I don’t think that educators have a monopoly on truth. The same applies to folks who write pop business books. I just think more so.

    You may also have noticed that schools seem immune to many of the”revolutions” in society. I suspect that this trend is likely to continue.

    In the “it’s a small world” category, the guy who most viciously attacked my article quotes a mutual friend of ours on his blog. This makes me less concerned about my own safety.

    All the best,


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