Is Interactive Web 2.0 for Education an Oxymoron?

So, with digital delivery, it is less about the characteristics of the medium and more about how we are using the medium in our teaching practice. Organization and structure are key; how we present information is equally as important as what we choose to convey! G. Conole describes Web 2.0 tools as transforming information delivery sources into interactive knowledge construction platforms which reflect sound pedagogical principles. Of course, in order for the interaction to take place, a community of users – or learners, as is my preference – is required and at critical mass proportions. What might an authentic example of this look like? Let me give you one example…

In my efforts to learn outside of a formal degree program curriculum; to broaden my perspectives regarding online education; and to build a social professional network of educators, researchers, designers, and administrators; I began attending MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses over the summer. A MOOC is unlike any formal learning experience. The MOOC has been described as a learning buffet – it is open learning, it is accessible 24 hours a day, and it is constantly providing a fresh supply of new material from a variety of topic areas by way of diverse participants – but each participant decides what they want to put on their plate and how much of it to consume. There are no requirements for expertise levels or content contributions and even lurkers are welcome. This is what our Web 2.0 tools can create. My question is do we have the tools and systems in place to support and sustain those creations?

This link will take you to an open learning experience in artificial intelligence being offered by two professors at Stanford University. Though it has not been titled as a MOOC, this course meets the criteria that have been loosely established thus far. When the project was announced, over 100,000 users registered their interest in participating. Yes, that is 100,000 people all participating in the same free and open online course (sans formal credit) facilitated by two of the top experts in this field. No, I did not sign up for this, but over 20,000 (I am unsure how far over) learners have now formally registered as either basic or advanced participants. Apparently interest is not an issue when the names behind the instruction carry a lot of weight ;-)

With far fewer participants, we hit major technology glitches in #eduMOOC, #CMC11, and #change11! From choking Google groups due to a high volume of simultaneous user registrations to crashing servers due to exceeding capacity for users during synchronous presentations, technology has apparently yet to catch up with education on this scale. Even on a small-scale, though, there are difficulties. Peers in my adult education program have reported challenges with a handful of users on Skype. Personally, I get a headache just thinking about my own traumatic experiences with class projects on Google Docs! Where technology is concerned, perhaps it is best to stay flexible and keep an open mind, but that’s a tough pill to swallow for a student with a deadline when the Internet fails, the power goes out, or ANGEL closes for maintenance every morning from 4am to 6am! Like I said before…work in progress!

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