Thursday, January 17, 2008

Response to David Warlick's "Two Assumptions"

I posted this comment in response to David Warlick's Two Assumptions

I think there is a delineation here between some different tools. As you have been pointing out, each of these sites has it's own niche market. Sure our kids are using facebook for creating social networks...and they are social. This isn't the tool I want to use for classroom collaboration, because I would want my classroom to be more than social. It probably doesn't interest my kids much either, because who wants to mix their playground with work.

What I think we need is a tool that allows students and teachers to work collaboratively in a sandbox that gives them the tools they need to work in a traditional learning setting or in one that is more progressive.

What we need more than good social networking or collaborative tools - we need good curriculum that would benefit from these tools. We need good teachers that know how to use these tools and are willing to learn how to use them better along with their students. Good tools makes all of this easier.

I feel that there hasn't been a product made yet that has all of the tools built into an environment that easily supports a collaborative learning environment. Those that do exist that try to do this (Moodle,Blackboard, of a mix of a variety of online tools) have a steep learning curve, are cumbersome, or are blocked by school webfilters. On top of all of this teachers that are using these resources don't have a large enough collection of good vetted lessons or activities that use collaborative tools.

I believe that we will eventually reach a critical mass where the right combination of hardware, network, software, curriculum, and teacher ability come together and use social networking tools to impact learning. I feel that time is not now. Now is the time to build and prepare for that time - unfortunately in the meantime we are leaving kids unprepared for the changing world - but isn't that the tradition of schooling?