Opening the Lines of Communication:

How the Web is becoming a “Participatory Design” two-way street.

Once students could only access content online. 

Now students can still access content, and through the 21st Century Skills and knowledges necessary in the online learning environment the can process and synthesize that content through communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, culture, connecting and community.

Having processed content into their own ideas, the revolutionary new component of the Read/Write web allows students to contribute their original content to the online environments in which they interact. 

Students are becoming creative, collaborative, web-community authors. 

These are my initial thoughts about the ways in which I see the Read/Write Web affecting my teaching practice and classroom environment.

After 15 years of teaching the same subjects in the same school with the same colleagues, I find a need for some new air to breathe from time to time. Being a life-long learner type,the Read/Write Web and the new ways of learning and interacting it offers fascinates me. I can see a shift in society convincing me that the Web 2.0 is going to be a big part of the future in society and, in turn, education. In modern public and private formative education the paradigm is slowly reinventing itself as it reckons with what approaches to curriculum and instruction to keep and what it must jettison to make room for 21st Century Skill-oriented approaches.

As the tapestry of public education is rewoven, a nearly new fabric has been introduced in the form of online learning platforms. Entirely online, flipped, and blended courses of study are emerging from within the traditional classroom set-ups. Here, I believe, are the laboratories that will best inform the traditional F2F (face-to-face) and classrooms with low-incidences of technology as to what the best approaches might be to try in flipped or blended classrooms. It may be that some classrooms should remain free of many forms of technology, especially for the youngest learners.

Higher education, by contrast, will redefine itself in a similar way over the next decade and beyond to increase technology and Read/Write Web interactions. This may be even more exciting because it appears to be happening at a faster pace than in the K-12 domain because prospective students are gravitating toward the 21st Century skill centered learning environments and a big part of these skills are online and collaborative.

The collaborative, creative learning environment can be exceedingly successful when students and teachers are stakeholders in the course. A framework for providing structures and parameters which I see as scalable and applicable to a Read/Write Web learning environment is outlined in this blog post by Lisa Neilsen titled “Participatory Design.”

Essentially in Participatory Design, the “who,” which are those affected in some way by a situation, collaborate together to determine the structures for the “how,” or the way in which they would like to shape that situation to be most mutually beneficial.

I’m very interested in gaining knowledge and being “at the table” and am hopeful that Participatory Design is part of the preparation. I want to be able to speak intelligently when it is time to discuss decisions that will shape the future of public education within and beyond my classroom. The innovators who engage with these new approaches to instruction are helping to guide the transformation in the everyday classrooms of our students and I want to be a part of that grass roots transformation.

Some takeaway points:

  • Read/Write Web is an emerging development but is clearly part of the future of societal interactions and should therefore become a medium of interaction within the educational sphere as well.
  • Space must be cleared for new approaches to occur. What will stay and what will go are big questions to answer in the next decade in all areas of education.
  • More instruction is happening on the Read/Write Web every day. This innovation is informing leadership and driving change.
  • Having intelligent contributions to make through the decision making process will be imperative if an educator wants to have a “voice and a choice” as to how they will incorporate Read/Write Web interactions into their instruction.
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