Learning with Web2.0 requires a shift from Educational ICTs being user centered to learning centred.
Software applications by their nature put the user at the centre. We ‘use’ software. We read the ‘user’ manual etc., Confusion occurs when attempting to differentiate between software and Web2.0 technologies. For example, ‘using’ a blog interface to write is remarkably similar to writing a letter in a Word. But there is a distinct difference between seeing students as ‘users’ of technology or ‘learners’ with technology. I suggest that effective 21st Century pedagogy is learning centred and uses the 3Ts, not the 3Rs.
The 3Ts of Web2.0
Tools: The Web2.0 tools used must be adaptable to suit the needs of the learning. For example, if we are teaching collaboration, the tool must allow students to collaborate in their educational setting. What works in an elementary school in Kansas, may not work in a school in Adelaide. Each school has it’s own cultural capital, socio-economic, cultural and leadership differences. The key decision is to try them, not to worry about replication.
Techniques: The teacher is not the ‘gateway’ to knowledge, nor is the software. They both act as simultaneous conduits though which learning occurs. For example: The teacher will teach students how to use Delicious to find information – because it will produce better learning outcomes in the future.
Task: Is a scaffolding activity. Mastery skills may be learned, however a scaffold is used to deliver the disciplinary requirements of the syllabus, though authentic, relevant, goal directed ‘doing’ activities. For example: The students go on a science fiield trip. The students use technology to document their learning. This, you might argue could be done without technology. But what if it was a ‘digital’ field trip using Flickr, Google Sky – as the trip is inter-planetary?
We use the Web2.0 ‘tools’ to assist learning. These tools are not there to be ‘learned’ in the same way we taught students to learn how to use Word or to make a Spreadsheet. Web2.0 represents an opportunity to adapt the read/write, connectedness of the internet into Learning. The central activity is to learn – by doing – using tools, tasks and techniques.
We once thought we needed to learn how to use computers. We would have them on our desk. This was because we had previously (and sucessfully) trained people to be machinists or signal box operators. We thought the next generation would use ‘computers’ like their parents used a factory machine. They did for a while, but todays ICTs left the desktop and local area network long ago. Being media and network literate is more important that being a ‘user’.