It’s now week 5 and I and I’m learning more and doing more than I expected I would at the beginning of this course. The workload has often left me feeling like a hamster on a wheel, but I’ve hopefully kept up with the pace. My stress level has been moderate, but I can feel myself beginning to panic at moments. I do feel that the workload is such that is hard to reflect on what I’m doing. The assignments seem ‘disjointed’ and I’m still struggling to make a connection between them and with the overarching goals. I believe that the nature of the course has taught me latent skill of learning communally and manifestly, I have come to work what lies next in the evolution of the Web 2.0 (Robert Merton coined the terms latent and manifest functions to describe the ‘hidden rules’ of social institutions like education).
Latent Learning: Learning as a Communal Act
The lack of a social script to handle a course like this has been hard. There has been little instructions about how to do assignments and for the most part, I have taken cues from classmates’ submissions or used our Facebook page. The Facebook page in particular is where we share what we think each assignment entails. In lieu of the structure of most courses, I believe that we have bonded as a class in a way atypical of online classes. When I say ‘bond’, I don’t mean bonding in a sentimental way. Instead, I think that we have become interdependent (most of us, anyways) in making the sense of the assignments and the desired learning outcomes. How, for example, can social bookmarking sites or audio sharing sites be used in the context of education? I’m amazed at some of the things my peers are already doing with this.
Viewing other students’ blogs and reading the responses on the Facebook page has underscored the intersubjectivity of the learning experience. My experience with each assignment is validated by reading others’ reactions. Most of us felt like Delicious and other social bookmarking sites were a waste of time, while most of us were a bit ‘awestruck’ by Wikipedia editing exercises. There is a sense of camaraderie in this course that is tangible, but hard to put into words. The social script for an online learning community has yet to be written and its absence in most online classes that I’ve taken is sorely noted. Forming a true community and flexing our collective expertise is a hallmark of social constructivism. I think this class is helping us to write a social script that we will later seek in other courses and hope to facilitate if we teach online.
Manifest Learning: Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 2.5 (?), and then what??
The Web 2.0 revolution has made its mark. Given my earlier research on YouTube, I would guess that 2006 was the year that the revolution began. As mentioned in a previous post, Time Magazine declared it the year of ‘you’ and YouTube was purchased by Google. Since then, we have developed new outlets for expressing ourselves and we have gotten more sophisticated in our media production skills. Even now, earlier iterations of YouTube and tools like Delicious seem antiquated in comparison with the interactivity and ease of use of newer forms of Web 2.0. I would call the present state of technology Web 2.5; faster, more advanced, easier to use and yet not all that different from the mid-to-late 2000’s. While I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t too much weight in any person’s speculations, I must ask myself, “Where do we go from here?”. What next innovation will bring a paradigmatic shift in web technology? And will the next revolution be one of increasing sophistication (moving ‘up’) or will it be one of diffusing innovation (moving ‘out’)? My guess is Web 3.0 will be a bit of both. Increasingly, there are completely online churches, schools, and book clubs (i.e. innovation was diffused) and cheap cloud storage and the open source movement brought content creation to amateurs (i.e. we moved up). In reality, we have, the technology has not fully diffused throughout society. I can’t imagine what the future of technology holds for us. Holograms? Teleporting? Breaking the time/space continuum? I can, however, envision how diffused innovation of current technologies could overhaul social institutions, particularly in education. We have the tools at our disposal to make education more exploratory, individualized, hands-on, etc. but we haven’t realized the potential yet. Watching Wensch’s video on YouTube reminded that major technological shifts produce equally monumental societal shifts, many of which are felt years later. YouTube spawned amateur celebrities who shared their lives and did silly things in front of the camera. 10 years into this YouTube revolution, people now to depend on it to learn new things, get entertained, or have a soapbox to stand on. Yet we still sectors untouched by the revolution. There are, for example, still brick and mortar schools, textbooks, and lectures in classrooms. While I’m not in favor of innovation for innovation’s sake, I do think a Web 3.0 revolution would be one where we actually use the tools at our disposal to transform outdated societal practices. I’m optimistic that there is a better way to do nearly everything and that most of the time, the innovation is right under my nose. Sometimes I get a ‘spark’ from other creative people and sometimes I have ‘epiphanies’. Its possible to take commonly used technology tool and uses it to achieve a purpose (ex. using Twitter to get students to tweet about what their didn’t understand from their lesson – a very easy form of assessment). Perhaps a real Web 3.0 revolution will be one where potential meets praxis.