This is going to be somewhat of a long post. So if your brain With that being said, if your attention span is too small for big ideas, leave now.
Let’s start start by looking at a picture of the internet.
Obviously, the internet is impossible to take a picture of. This is simply a graphical representation of what the web looks like virtually. Notice how the web is simply a connection of billions of devices. Also notice how interconnected the web is. One device isn’t simply connected to one other device, but rather each linked in computer literally has a billions of connections it can make. Aren’t connections what makes the internet, the internet? Imagine an internet that only allows one connection. Imagine if, when you signed up for the internet, you could only choose one website to connect to. What website would you choose? Facebook (But remember you could only view your profile)? Google (remember though, Google is only useful because of the connections it makes)? Amazon.com (But remember that a large number of products sold off Amazon.com are sold by third party retailers)? Are you seeing the problem with a one connection interent? If the internet was simply a bunch of two way pipes that only allowed ONE connection between ONE user and ONE server, wouldn’t that make the internet much less useful? Part of what gives the internet its appeal is the amount of computers linked to it. Let me give you an example. The first fax machine ever sold was priced at $2,000. The person who bought it had a $2,000 paperweight because he owned the only fax machine in the world. He had no one to send a fax to. My point is part of what gives the internet value is the fact that internet connections are abundant. Unlike traditional economic thinking, scarcity detracts from the value of the internet. Let’s take that a step further and apply that mentality to the content on the internet. Imagine if, when you visited a website, you could only connect to one website at a time. Those websites were static, and they didn’t allow its users to submit any content. This means no reviews, no ratings, and more importantly no Facebook. Think for a moment about that. Facebook, arguably one of the most successful websites of all time, is based almost entirely on user content! Part of what makes Facebook so appealing is that not only can users generate content, but they can make connections with all their friends. It seems like those are the keys to successful websites. User generated content, and interconnectedness. That makes sense, for why would we want an internet, which is designed entirely around connections, to not allow us to make connections within itself. This is the problem with Web 1.0. Web 1.0 websites tend to contain completely non-user generated content and do not allow connections with other websites. They simply display information that you can choose to either consume, or not consume. There is very little interaction between the user and the webpage. As the internet has evolved, so has the way we interact with it. Facebook, blogs, podcasts, and other digital tools that require user generated content has created a revolution in the way we view the web. Most of the more popular websites have created a community around them. Take Amazon.com for example. Not only is it a place where you can go to get cheap prices. But user reviews assist consumers in the buying process. Real people submit real opinions on the real products they have purchased. Not only that, but Amazon makes personalized recommendations for products based on what you have purchased in the past. Overall it makes shopping a much more enjoyable experience because it gives you more confidence in the products you are buying, and makes it easy to find additional products to buy!
Web 2.0 has revolutionized the way we interact with the internet. No longer are we mindless drones using the internet to find content posted by a so called expert, but we are the ones who are creating that content (Just look at Wikipedia!).
In a bit of a topic shift, why couldn’t this same strategy method be applied to education? We have all these free online tools that allow users to generate content, could you imagine the kind of education we could receive if students were the ones doing the teaching? According to this article research suggests that students retain between 20-40%of material from a lecture. That’s enough to get you a big fat F. Now how much information do you think a teacher retains? Those numbers are a bit closer to 90-100% (A solid A, or A- depending on where you go to school). This is because in order for them to effectively lecture, they must already know and understand the subject they are attempting to teach. Imagine if we could shift the job of teaching from the teachers to the students. Then all of the sudden retention of the students would drastically improve. Obviously we would still need teachers to tell us what to study and what to learn, but if we were in charge of teaching ourselves and our classmates the subject matter, we could be the ones retaining 90% of the information given to us.
A blend of the classroom and web 2.0 could create what I like to call Classroom 3.0. Students and teachers integrate free online tools to assist students in teaching themselves the subjects they are required to learn. If they don’t understand a specific topic, they could spend more time on it. If they understand, there is no need for them to listen to the teacher respond to a student who needs more explanation. Self-paced, self-directed learning leads to higher retention, and more understanding. And that is the ultimate goal. In his book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking Malcolm Gladwell states, “We live in a world saturated with information. We have virtually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in the arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration with the unexpected costs of knowing too much…we have become to confuse information with understanding…The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” It is not enough for us to be well versed in the subjects we are studying. In fact, that kind of knowledge will only help you on tests, which tend to be an artificial benchmark in an simulated world. Part of a good education is understanding the proper application of these subjects we are learning about. We must be able to use our education to solve complex problems. It is not good enough to know which formula you use where on a test. Through Education 3.0 we can achieve this