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Web 2.0 and Responsible Educators

February 14, 2008

If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I believe setting up your computer as your own PLE (Personal Learning Environment) or as some call it, your PLWE (Personal Learning and Working Environment) is a basic step in being efficient on the web. When I have research time, and sometimes just because I feel like it, I go to the web to learn more and to keep up with what is available and useful for me and for other educators. I see this as basic life and professional research, and something all educational professionals should be concerned about, both for themselves and for their students.

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Although I’ve been using my RSS reader Bloglines as the source for my “harvesting” for my ongoing learning, recently I find I’ve been neglecting it somewhat because I go to it after I collect professionally and personally relevant URLs from those I follow on Twitter.

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An aside, I’m proud of the background I uploaded, a photo I took, then manipulated in Photoshop. I plan to continue being seasonal in my background.
The people I follow on Twitter:

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As you can see, I like having visuals along with my text;->

A couple of days ago, I found some interesting-looking material that I didn’t have time to read. I added them to my account and tagged them, but knew they could easily disappear into that great reservoir of learning possibilities. So I tried out something I’d read about on Twitter – Instapaper, which allows me to save articles and blog posts to be read later. I have put its link on my personal Bookmarks toolbar, and I save things there, and maybe ;-> read them later. (There are so many choices, so much available!)

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This description of my PLE and my web reading/researching process is a lead-up to, and I hope, a demonstration of, what the two articles I eventually read, and am blogging about, said.
First, from JISC –

New report reveals the information needs of the researchers and learners of the future

A new report, commissioned by JISC and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – is the most adept at using the web. The report by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to asses the information that they find on the web.


The findings also send a stark message to government – that young people are dangerously lacking information skills. Well-funded information literacy programmes are needed, it continues, if the UK is to remain as a leading knowledge economy with a strongly-skilled next generation of researchers.

This research supports what I have seen in Canadian classrooms, and leads directly to my next quote from David Parry’s Science Progress blog post about the use of Wikipedia in academia – I was particularly struck by the following:

It is irresponsible for educational institutions not to teach new knowledge technologies such as Wikipedia. I should probably admit upfront that I am not a scientist by training; my scholarship grows out of literary studies and a concern for how literacy changes in the age of the digital. Wikipedia, or more generally the networked archival structure it represents, alters the way in which we create, share, and record knowledge, and thus has rather significant effects on how we approach education across all disciplines, and specifically in technology and science. Students and teachers alike must understand how systems of knowledge creation and archivization are changing. Encyclopedias are no longer static collections of facts and figures; they are living entities, and the new software changes the rules of expertise.


When I hear debates about the digital divide, access is often the largest issue, as if merely having access to computers solves the problem. “Bring computers into the schools and fund technology” are the regular solutions. However, the technology here is merely secondary: what is more important is teaching people how this technology changes the social sphere so that students too can be empowered to engage the polis rather than being passive users of Word Processing programs. Knowledge of how to indent paragraphs on a computer or make bullet points for a Power Point presentation is meaningless without the more important literacy of how to use these new media collaboratively to create a different kind of knowledge. Literacy in modern society means not only being able to read a variety of informational formats; it means being able to participate in their creation, with Wikipedia serving as the marquee example.

I suggest that you read the whole post, especially if you think you disagree.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. James permalink
    February 15, 2008 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the link to instapaper. I plan on checking it out as an option to my work around for tagging posts and resources for later review.

    When I ran into a similar problem of finding a post that I wanted to read but did not have the time for at the moment I would tag it in delicious with “need2read”. Then to make it easier to find the most recent need2read items in two clicks, I created a live bookmark in my browser (Firefox) to my “need2read” rss feed.

  2. February 19, 2008 4:12 am

    A great post with a lot of insight, really nice reading.

    BTW nice new blog!

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