I enjoyed reading Richardson’s “New Face of Learning” article–his thoughts echoed my own, for the most part. I, too, see such enormous educational potential in Web 2.0. However, based on my own personal experience, my enthusiasm is tempered slightly by the reality of how these technologies are being used. Yes, blogging, podcasting, image sharing, etc. offer unprecedented access to, and ways to share, information for today’s youth, but many of them are not using these technologies as productively as we’d like. Too often, these kids are immersed in MySpace or Facebook, sharing little more than teenage gossip and photos of themselves posing with wannabe gang signs in front of the bathroom mirror. This kind of activity is to be expected, of course–as long as the technology is being used more productively, as well. As Wartella and Jennings point out, when television became popular, it was lauded as a potentially limitless resource for sharing information to a mass audience. Then came the sitcom and “reality television”. So, again, I see so much potential and opportunity in Web 2.0–I just wish more younger people were taking advantage of it as much as they should. In an ideal world, middle school students would be able to make use of their mobile devices in class for school-related activities without teachers having to contend with them texting their friends instead. And I think it is this perceived potential for misuse and abuse that makes many educators reluctant to embrace the technologies as much as they could and should. Despite that, though, Web 2.0 technologies cannot be ignored, regardless of the wasted potential or potential for abuse or misuse. Web 2.0 is where education is going–period; whether we make efforts toward making the most of it, or not. Put simply, I think we as educators–both formally as teachers, and informally as parents, mentors, and role-models–have a responsibility to set a good example for showing students of all ages the limitless potential of Web 2.0 and encouraging them to make the most of it. If we don’t, then much of that potential will go to waste.
Which brings me to Wiske’s article, and his point about the importance of changing the culture of education–which, in my opinion, is the core issue surrounding educational technology. Technology–no matter how advanced–is, in and of itself, simply a tool, a medium for transfering information between instructor and student, regardless of the context. With his example of graphing calculators, he illustrates the importance of having unified support for the adoption of emerging technologies–making the important distinction that integrating new technologies doesn’t require radical change, but–I would argue–unified support. Without an adequate and dedicated support system, such iniatives would be doomed to failure, in my opinion.