Ten years into the new century, we’re still trying to find the web 2.0 tools that best facilitate collaboration—one of the fundamentals of 21st century learning. As the number of tools continues to grow, and fuzzy terms like cloud computing, hashtags, and synchronous live platforms are introduced into the lexicon daily, even the most tech-savvy educators can have trouble determining which technologies have a role in a collaborative academic environment and which are simply new toys.
This is in no way a review, critique or criticism of the article from the Journal. I think that each person brings great discussion and ideas to the edu-sphere and I am grateful for that. I would just like to add to the conversation and give my 3 top tools.
I love that Steve Hargadon, didn't give a name of a tool, but instead the idea. Blogs, for example, if you use wordpress, blogger, edublogs, or any number of others, that's great, the idea of the web log is still the "tool" though.
So my number one would also be blogging...still. I love the idea of creating authors, publishers. and writers with purpose without really having to change a classroom, as we know many teachers aren't ready for this. Blogging can be a literal, adaptive, and also transformative use of technology. It allows for scaffolded and secure use, while naturally lending itself to differentiation in the classroom.
A teacher with little or no tech skills can begin blogging with kids in a safe environment, dangling the carrot and opening doors of digital responsibility, footprints, and authentic publishing.
My number two would be community as content. Yeah, I know that sounds obscure, and I can't link One single tool to it directly, but I can say that leveraging the 100's of web 2.0 tools out there into a means of changing classroom practice can and should be a priority. Today, you can literally walk into your class, state three objectives, give a timeline, and then allow the collaboration and conversation to fill the annals. Social networks open doors previously unimagined, Skype invites authors and experts into rooms, and backchannels, blogs, and live document collaboration (Google Docs recent updates and purchase of etherpad make this THE tool) changes and guides learning. Learning becomes more about who you know, how you can contribute, when to shut up and listen or lurk, and then pushback or modify. Which leads me to my number three Open-ness.
Open-ness, yeah that's what I'm calling it today, is high potential, somewhat controversial, and potentially culture changing. Take anything we do on the web, tear down the walls and let others glean, modify and adapt; and what you have is a culture that grows exponentially and rapidly. Creative commons has done so much heavy lifting around this that it's time to run with it, especially in education. (btw-- the recent ruling on jailbreaking iphones opened some doors in edu) Open building, sharing, and designing of content will do wonders in closing divides between haves and have nots and do wonders for our enabling and empowering of our future creators. I've written about this before, here, but I really believe open course, open sharing, open content, and open communication will give us the transparency that everyone seems to claim they grant and expect!