Where You Going?
Two news items have caught my attention this evening. The first is from The Stage, Britain’s paean to the acting profession. Their top news story is that E4.com (part of the UK’s Channel4 set-up) is to be re-launched as a social networking site. This is a major step for a couple of reasons, and as educators we need to pay attention to the ramifications.
At first glance, the social networking tools will be used to allow potential housemates for the next Big Brother to upload their audition tapes (…be still my beating heart…), but this is really just the thin end of the wedge. What it indicates is a clear shift in the traditional media companies from being Media1.0 (we sit and take what they give us) to Media2.0… where we start being invited to upload the content for mainstream media companies. The impact is incalculable at the moment, but as the Stage reports, there are already other stations/production companies doing the same… and the advertisers are taking note. It is easy to see why:
MySpace and Bebo have proved an effective way attracting the 16-24 demographic, which advertisers are keen to access, at a time when television and traditional broadcast mediums are struggling to pull in young people.
So, do we pretend that we can continue to teach in the old ways? I think not. When mainstream media are making the change, then it is time to start thinking ‘critical mass’. We need to start integrating Web2.0 into our existing teaching where possible as a first step, but we also need to be taking a more strategic view and be ready to tear up the way we teach and start again. Here in Scotland, A Curriculum for Excellence might just be the first step on an inevitable journey… I hope so!
The second news story that caught my eye is an interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. He is talking about why it is such a smart move to bet on the internet, and in doing so he said something that speaks directly to the heart of education. Read the following quotation, but think education rather than business…
But what’s surprising is that so many companies [schools] are still betting against the net, trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. The past few years have taught us that business models [education initiatives] based on controlling consumers or content don’t work. Betting against the net is foolish because you’re betting against human ingenuity and creativity.
How true I find these words. From its earliest days, the internet has given us information, but I really like Schmidt’s take on what Web2.0 has given us:
The internet is helping to satisfy our most fundamental human needs—our desire for knowledge, communication and a sense of belonging.
He’s right. It is that tribal response to social networking which makes the difference. If education can tap into that, then it can profoundly affect the learning process… and yet so many schools/teachers/Directors of Education/First Ministers don’t get it… or maybe they are just scared to devolve the learning back to the learners?