I just finished watching Stephen Downes’ talk on Web3 technologies and their implications for learning. I am very interested in what Stephen had to say about technologies being used to build consensus and decision making. I think a shared, distributed web can facilitate that. We will need to do more I think than just “build it and they will come.” I know that Stephen knows this – he had enough in this one presentation to spark a dozen other presentations which is what this post is. I am hoping that new technologies will help change how we think of teaching and learning as well as problem-solving and decision making.
I am teaching Social Studies for Adult Basic Education at Green River College here in Washington. My previous work in teaching English composition had me assigning a lot of position papers and debate type assignments – very traditional stuff. In this political climate, I am not interested in that, and the more I look at how we worked before in English departments the more I see that it is a part of the problem. Most of those kinds of assignments (writing papers on gun control, the death penalty, etc.) seem to promote a binary view of problems: one can be right or wrong. I wanted to move away from that and there are ways of thinking and learning that go beyond that, the Toulmin Method for instance focuses on whether an argument is warranted or not – what support is there for the argument that can be a helpful stepping stone away from arguments solely driven by person beliefs. I was still unsatisfied with this, but then I started reading about deliberation versus debate.
Values and Public Policy is a good example of this. They are a great resource for curricula that starts with the news and current events. I start the students off talking about values and Maslow’s hierarchy. We then talk about world problems attempting to get to the bottom of why people are making the decisions they are making and where could we help discover common ground. We spend a lot of time talking about the differences between deliberation and debate.
Basically what I am looking for in this class is to figure out how these new technologies are going to change the way we think about teaching and learning or how they will shape future pedagogy. How do you think Web 3.0 will change the way we teach? I have already seen a lot happen with open pedagogy. So if any instructional designer or teacher would like to connect sometime on this topic, let me know – maybe we can set up a Google Hangout.