July 23, 2024

Why Teachers Don’t Use Web 2.0 – an historical perspective

Jeff Utecht and David Warlick are among the latest educators to bemoan the lack of educational technology use by educators. In this case, Warlick and Utecht are specific in their criticism. They ponder aloud why the Web 2.0 tools they love do not appeal to more colleagues and why they are seldom used in classrooms. Both author/educators desire an education revolution, even if they have yet to articulate what that would look like in practice.

I have attempted to explore the question, "Why don’t teachers use computers?" in various publications, notably addressing technical obstacles in Why Teachers Don’t Use Computers; teacher recalcitrance in Gary Stager on Tech Insurgents; and a lack of leadership in Laptop Woes: Bungling The World’s Easiest Sale.

Utecht expresses his frustration with colleagues who don’t share his enthusiasm with Web 2.0 in a blog entitled "Fear Factor."

"My job, and I believe the job of every educational technology person is to help people get over this fear. To encourage them to explore these amazing machines. This year at my school we’ve loaded some very cool programs onto every teacher computer, and created shortcuts on the desktop so they had easy access to programs such as Skype, Google Earth, Second Life, and Scratch just to name a few. Yet I wonder how many teachers haven’t even clicked on one of these shortcuts to see what happens. Most haven’t even deleted the shortcuts even though they never plan to use them, or don’t know what to do."

The larger questions of why teachers don’t continue to learn and grow are impossible to answer for there are so many factors in play. The range of finger pointing in response to Warlick’s "rant" verifies the complexity of the issue. However, I think it is much easier to explain why teachers fail to embrace Skype, Google Earth and Second Life with the zeal of many "Web2.0pians." This requires a historical perspective. I believe it might be useful to compare the current situation to another heyday of educational computing. In this case, the 1980s and the "Logo community."

A bit of history of another "edtech" community

In 1966, Seymour Papert, Wally Feurzig, Cynthia Solomon and others invented Logo as a programming language for children that would allow them to explore powerful ideas by interacting with cybernetic "objects to think with." Papert had helped Jean Piaget learn how children construct mathematical knowledge and then went on to be a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. Logo, built upon the AI language, LISP was designed as a "mathland" in which children might learn math as naturally as one would learn French by living in France. Math would be relevant, powerful and beautiful. In the late 60s Papert proposed a computer for every child when that was dismissed as heresy. Papert’s work with Logo inspired Alan Kay to invent the dynabook in 1968, the predecessor to the modern laptop and "personal computer" was thought to be a computational learning space for children. The NSF, NIH and even the Pentagon funded seminal Logo research. Psychologists, computer scientists, learning theorists, mathematicians and teachers were collaborators.

By the time microcomputers became available, the MIT AI and Logo labs had published extensive research on children learning with Logo as did researchers around the world. In the early 80s and in the world’s first "laptop schools" ten years later, the purpose of computers was to "do" Logo. The language, always designed to allow a wide range of personal expression and intellectual inquiry continued to evolve with advances in computing, but it was explicitly designed as an environment for children. When David Thornburg taught Logo to Stanford engineering grad students, the work was fantastic, but outside of the primary objectives for the software. HyperCard and HyperStudio were heavily influenced by Logo and the Logo community. Squeak, Scratch, StarLogo, NETLogo, Toontalk, Agentsheets, Stagecast Creator and other software environments are Logo’s cousins. LCSI’s LogoWriter invented the site license.

Logo’s academic community grew rapidly as countless teachers around the world found Logo on their new classroom computers. The needs and objections of teachers became important subjects for investigation, debate and R&D. Byte dedicated an entire issue to Logo. One of the longest running educational technology journals, Logo Exchange, was published for close to twenty years. Dozens of how-to books filled with creative classroom project ideas and pedagogical strategies were published all over the world. Online conferences, beginning in 1985 supported the Logo community and summer institutes continue to this day. Seymour Papert and children using Logo were featured on Donahue. The BBC made a documentary about Logo. Logo conferences in the mid-1980s were major academic events attracting scholars and practitioners from around the world. Classroom teachers found themselves in collegial settings with leading intellectuals.

Perhaps, the most important thing to know about Logo was that it came with an owner’s manual in the form of an educational manifesto, entitled Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas. This 1981 book by Seymour Papert not only called for an educational revolution, but it predicted how schools would reject and ultimately defeat such efforts. However, the book became a bestseller all over the world and resonated with educators committed to progressive education. Not only did Papert offer Logo as a way of breathing life into Dewey, Piaget, Holt and Vygotsky, but Logo also energized a community of educators eager for social justice. Papert was a South African dissident who fought apartheid in the late 40s and early 1950s. Many of my colleagues in the Logo community fought for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. To them, Logo was not just a programming language or an educational philosophy, it was also a way of empowering young people to use their minds in an independent fashion.

Logo was a way of giving voice to their democratic principles and amplified their child-centered teaching practices.

Logo was explicit in stating that the best learning was comprised of "hard-fun." Although Logo has no threshold and no ceiling, it does require a great deal of debugging and mastery in order to get the computer to behave in the way you want. This is the power of programming. It provides agency over the machine and enhances the intellectual stature of the learner.

As more computers were delivered to schools and the enthusiasm of the early adopters were drowned out by teachers with other priorities, Logo became harder to sustain in schools. Add commercial pressures that devalued children making their own software (for obvious reasons) and the rest is history (except I just got back from a Logo conference in Eastern Europe).

Web 2.0 today

Now, how does this compare with the concerns raised by Utecht, Warlick and their colleagues in the Web 2.0 community?

Like 25 years ago with Logo, some creative teachers today have become smitten with Web 2.0 technologies. They do creative things with the tools themselves and engage kids in interesting projects. They too can’t understand why colleagues do not share their enthusiasm. These early adopters are great evangelists for the technology and hope that their work will result in school reform.

However, there are some primary differences between Logo (and its variants) and the panoply of Web 2.0 tools, including:

  • The Web 2.0 tools promoted by Warlick and Utecht were not created by educators or for children. Educators hope to find educational applications despite having almost no input into the development of future tools.
  • The Web 2.0 tools come out of corporate, not academic, cultures with very different motives.
  • There is no educational philosophy inspiring the development of the Web 2.0 tools or their use.
  • Although a principle of the Web is the democratiziation of knowledge, this is an abstract concept to educators raised on textbooks and being commanded to recite from scripted lesson plans.
  • The greater Web 2.0 community has little interest in reforming education.
  • Web 2.0 attracts very little interest in the educational psychology or even teacher education communities.
  • There exists very little peer-reviewed scholarship regarding Web 2.0. In fact, many people in the blogosphere are openly contemptuous of theory and scholarship in favor of "the wisdom of crowds," a new and popular, albeit inherently anti-intellectual world-view.
  • By definition, the Web 2.0 community is leaderless. Too often, non-equivalent opinions are given equal weight without a demand for evidence or supporting arguments.
  • There is very little material written for educators on using Web 2.0 tools in a creative fashion. Will Richardson’s book is a fabulous resource for understanding the read/write web, but hardly offers provocative project ideas.
  • No matter how cool, powerful or revolutionary Web 2.0 tools happen to be, there are few if any mature objects-to-think-with embedded in them and certainly no explicit statement that their use is designed to transform the learning environment.
  • The emphasis on information reinforces passive pedagogical practices, whether intentional or not.
  • While they may be really powerful or innovative software applications, a teacher simply does not need Skpe, Google Eartth or Second Life. Using them will do little to challenge conventional classroom practice. Some of the richest examples merely enhance the existing curriculum.
  • Web 2,0 requires robust ubiquitous access to the Internet. Most schools have demonstrated an inability to trust teachers and kids online and as a result create insane barriers to teachers using the Web in an educational fashion.
  • By definition, Web 2.0 is temporal (just wait for 3.0) and new tools emerge every hour. As a result, teachers don’t see a reason to invest much time in mastering technologies that will be obsolete or leapfrogged tomorrow. For many enthusiasts, collecting the tools is as important as using them.
  • Times have changed. Few Americans protest anything, not the war in Iraq, not the erosion of civil liberties. Educators don’t even fight overly restrictive and counter-productive network policies that castrate the Internet. Has ISTE raised the issue before Congress? Has the NEA made this an issue of working conditions? No, there is little appetite for rocking the boat. We have become passive and compliant just like our schools wish for our students.
  • I know I’ll get flamed for this, but the educational Web 2.0 community has little first-hand experience in social activism and scant knowledge of existing school reform literature. Like the discovery of new tools, one gets the sense that proponents of Web 2.0 in education are discovering educational theories here and there and then applying these ideas to the new tools.
  • What is the unifying educational theory behind using Skype, Second Life, Scratch and Google Earth?

When Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Oscar Arias campaigned for President of Costa Rica, he promised to modernize the nation’s public schools. Once elected he did not neglect his pledge or buy a white board for each classroom. Instead he asked Seymour Papert and his colleagues to help Costa Rican educators use Logo as a vehicle for empowering children and teachers. The primarily low-skilled and female teaching force across Costa Rica took this mission seriously as a way of not only asserting their competence, but to improve the quality of life in their country. The NGO Arias created, Fundacion Omar Dengo, to support classroom innovation and Logo use has withstood countless changes in government and succeeds to this day. More than a million Costa Rican school children use MicroMundos (MicroWorlds) and Intel selected Costa Rica as the home of its chip manufacturing plant over ten other countries. They cited the educational system and the "Computers in schools" project as a primary reason for their investment. That investment represents something like 25% of the GDP of the nation.

Dr. Geraldine Kozberg was an interesting figure in the development of Logo use in American schools. She was Assistant Superintendent of the St. Paul, Minnesota schools and an educator who came to the profession late in life. Prior to St. Paul, Dr. Kozberg volunteered to work in the South Boston High School during the "busing" crisis of the early 1970s when White parents shot at school buses to keep their schools from being integrated. As she headed towards retirement, Dr. Kozberg spent her vacations working to establish schools in refugee camps on the Thai/Cambodian border. She was not a technologist at all. She was however a radical and progressive educator in the best sense of both words who after reading Papert’s book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas, called Papert and said, "I don’t believe you. Come to St. Paul and prove it to me." The St. Paul Logo project lasted for more than a decade and served as a model of longterm, serious and sustainable professional development for educators. In St. Paul, Logo was not a technology initiative, but rather a catalyst for classroom change. This was not a secret, but its stated mission. The district invested human and financial resources accordingly.

What is the radical educational foundation of Skype? Besides, kids don’t need to master Skype or even have it available in school. They can use it and other Web 2.0 tools outside of school with very little instruction and almost no practice or fluency required.

Kozberg wrote a reflective piece that might be useful in considering the current situation facing the Web 2.0 community, Whatever Happened to the Revolution? Seymour Papert’s article, Why School Reform is Impossible, may also shed some light on the subject.

I remember a conference I chaired in New Jersey around 1990 or 1991. Gerry Kozberg spoke and afterwards a well-intentioned suburban computer coordinator came up to her and said that she too was a radical. Dr. Kozberg took her hand and said, "Darling, you’re a nice woman, but you’re no radical."

In 1996, Kozberg told the audience at Logosium ’96 the following:

"The Logo community has been unable or unwilling to confront the larger social issues that are tearing at public education. In 1981, I wrote: "Logo is one part of a larger change effort designed to serve as an intervention in learning and learning environments.""

For the most part, this has not happened. The problem is not the technology, certainly not Logo. The problem is one of equity. Logo is for all kids, but the kids who need Logo the most have no access to it. They are relegated to educational games and instruction in the basic skills.

In the world of Web 2.0, being leaderless is a virtue and the value of expertise is democratized, if not minimized. There is no educational theory on which the tools are designed or the classroom practice is influenced. No critically acclaimed or even popular manifesto exists. It is difficult to sustain a "revolution" when its goals remain unclear and the soldiers rally around the tools, not ideals.

34 thoughts on “Why Teachers Don’t Use Web 2.0 – an historical perspective

  1. I agree with your thoughts for the most part, but I think there are 2 sides to both coins: web 2.0 and logo. You mainly focus on the negative side of the web 2.0 coin and the positive side of the logo coin. There are some positive things coming out of “web 2.0” land, and there were some negatives about logo.

    Logo had an educational philosophy guiding its design and it was designed with kids in mind, unlike most web 2.0 tools, which even restrict usage by kids under 13:
    however there are some that are designed with kids in mind:

    If you apply your list to Logo, you’ll find more in common with web 2.0 than is different. For example:

    –“Educators hope to find educational applications despite having almost no input into the development of future tools.” Educators didn’t design logo. Kids didn’t design logo. Piaget or K-12 teachers or learning specialists didn’t design logo. Computer scientists did. The same people designing most of web 2.0. The same people who largely have no training in learning theory or teaching. Projects like L2TD I think are helping slowly change this, by teaming up programmers and educators to design new software:

    –“The greater Web 2.0 community has little interest in reforming education”. Neither did or does the greater programming community. Visual Basic (.NET), for example, is actually a better and more productive tool for beginners to use than for example Java or C++, and yet of course the programming community is scornful of anything beginner-friendly.

    –“Web 2.0 attracts very little interest in the educational psychology or even teacher education communities.” Neither did logo for many years until the late 80s, upon which is was quickly criticized:

    I have a wiki page listing some pro and con articles about logo:

    Web 2.0-like tools that ARE designed with kids in mind (like Whyville) have attracted the attention of educational researchers. Probably we haven’t been critical enough yet.

    A larger umbrella issue I think is making the development of interactive software environments easier for non-programmers, such as hypercard & supercard did. They are out of date, however, and were never released as free or open source. You can't make a gradebook or a blog engine with logo, and yet using java or similar tools is too difficult for most people.

  2. As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but recall all the criticism I received in the 1996 – 2000 period at Illinois about how our fledging Web 1.0 efforts that I was leading were a pale shadow of Plato. There appears to be a strong parallel.

    I thought your comment about access was dead on – if the primary benefit of the Web 2.0 would be in the context of students doing “homework,” how can you implement it unless you know that all students have access?

    But I think you also need to consider the curriculum itself. Does it call for the students to do a lot of writing? And where writing happens, do the schools want that to be open ended and not so tied down on subject.

    If you haven’t seen it, you might watch this Charlie Rose interview with Joel Klein, which is about reforms underway in the New York City Public Schools. Near the end, Klein discusses using a kind of ePortfolio system for teachers – much of his spiel is about teacher accountability and making the system more professional because of the accountability. If that works well, even modestly so, it might provide a gateway into using like applications for student performance, and perhaps Web 2.0 might emerge that way.

    In my view, it is making the technology instrumental to other learning goals and getting the teachers to use it before the students do so they can see the value proposition for themselves that is the path to diffusion. NYC looks like a good place to watch to see if any of these ideas stick.

  3. I agree with your final comment “It is difficult to sustain a “revolution” when its goals remain unclear and the soldiers rally around the tools, not ideals.” There needs to be a sustained, seious conversation about what goals public education serves in modern times.

    I have a couple of things to question though… Do I need to cite educational philosophy to support the use of GoogleEarth over the use of outdated atlases? Speaking as a teacher of middle school geography, although it is a tool, GoogleEarth does fundamentally change my ability to bring the world into greater focus for the sutdents. The tool doens’t have to be made with education necessarily in mind, if there are skilled teachers looking for ways to bring content to students in new ways. When someone writes a novel, it isn’t written for classroom use, but there are novels that are useful in illustrating an important theme of literature. The book is used because it is a tool, I use GoogleEarth because it is a tool, and an effective one at that.

  4. Google Earth may very well be an improvement over outdated atlases. However, that merely represents an incremental improvement over existing reference materials.

    All sorts of web technologies are indeed wondrous.

    This hardly meets the standard of those yearning for Web 2.0 tools to “revolutionize” education.

  5. Lanny,

    I haven’t seen the latest Klein appearance on Charlie Rose, but I was stunned by how un-critically Rose accepted the load of hooey Klein served up during a previous appearance.

    Charlie Rose would NEVER have accepted such nonsense uncritically if it had been served up by a person from any field, except schooling.


  6. Web 2.0 presents opportunities and threats to the teaching community.

    It offers collaboration on wide scale, beyond the small cluster of students around a desk in the classroom working together, to students globally collaborating synchronously and asynchronously (Google Documents and Zoho Documents…).

    This is a brilliant opportunity but one the average teachers, school board and curriculum is ill equipped to grasp. The network of contacts is not available, the teachers are pressed for time, the curricula does not cover this or even address collaboration in this format.

    It challenges the concepts of control, of trust, of self management and task focus.
    For us to make use of even the most basic of tools – the collaborative documents – we must have change from the top. How many of our national curricula have been updated recently enough to refer to the use of collaborative technologies. How many of our teacher education programs teach about the integation of ICT into the classroom, let alone the use of emerging technologies?

    Currently, we have trainee teachers at school. Their training has not encompassed ICT integration. This is a deficit of huge proportions. They will be teaching in our schools for 20-40 years and they do not even start with a level of competency. They start on the back foot.

    Leadership starts from the TOP, yes we have to have lead innovators, those of us willing to take a chance, to explore and venture. We need champions – Gary, Mark Prensky Iain Jukes, David Warlick, Miguel Guhlin, Derek Wenmoth and alike. But we must also see the political will and vision to change and shape education policy, we must see teachers college graduate trained for this world not for a world that existed 20 years ago, trained for students who are digital natives. The lecturer’s need to be digital immigrants not digital emigrants.

    Also posted on my blog –

  7. This is what I love about techonology. I spent 15 minutes composing this great comment and then I wasn’t a google member and I had to sign up and everything was lost!!!
    I loved this post. I graduated rom college in 1980. I am a little different from other ’80 grads because I went to VA. Tech. So I was sending e-mail with a “TAPCIS” program before the www.
    But I am not a digital native and I feel it all of the time. What tools do I need to learn? It TAKES ME SO LONG (compared to the 10 seconds it takes a kid).
    I teach my students e-mail, Blackboard, webquests, html, and powerpoints. And I an so BEHIND! Where does a wandering digital nomad go for fast info and global wisdom?

  8. Jeff says:

    This year at my school we’ve loaded some very cool programs onto every teacher computer, and created shortcuts on the desktop so they had easy access to programs such as Skype, Google Earth, Second Life, and Scratch just to name a few.

    Well, Skype and Google Earth are both proprietary. Scratch and 2nd Life’s server is a little iffy at this point. When you offer “cool” but non-free software to educators who believe fundamentally in the value of sharing knowledge, it’s bound to lack a punch. Ohh…I wish it was that simple. Maybe one day… 😉

    Thanks for the post Gary. Some things to think about. Thanks for bringing this to light.

    BTW, I use KTurtle for some instruction in my IT classes. Logo is one thing. Free logo is another. You really want empowerment? It’s gotta be free. Otherwise, the student becomes a tool of the tool.

  9. Gnuosphere,

    I respectfully disagree that software needs to be free. Children deserve the best. When I clicked on your link to the Wikipedia page about KTurtle, there were two paragraphs about RedHat and technical details and then the following…

    “It should be noted that the Kturtle language and IDE cannot be used to develop robust programs. They are far too limited for even the most determined developer.”

    I advocate children having robust, extended personally meaningful experiences with computers (and without). KTurtle looks like software that ran on Vic-20s 23-25 years ago. Certainly we could spend a buck or two per kid for a great software environment that grows with them. We might even demand that hardware manufacturers once again bundle high-quality software for learners on their computers. Apple, IBM, Atari and BBC computers all once came with robust Logos installed.

    I prefer MicroWorlds EX (http://www.microworlds.com) because of its low threshold and high ceiling.

    However, if you must have a free Logo, might I recommend the following:

    Berkeley Logo – http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/
    Starlogo TNG – http://education.mit.edu/starlogo-tng/
    NetLogo – http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/

    Multimedia (Windows) versions of Berkeley Logo may also be downloaded from the Berkeley Logo page above.

  10. “I respectfully disagree that software needs to be free. Children deserve the best.”

    Say no more.

    Thanks for the possibly technically superior references. I’ll check them out. I imagine that due to your knowledge, you are probably correct. And I, of course, respectfully disagree that it doesn’t matter if learners can learn about (and share their knowledge about) the very tools they use to construct either physical or virtual objects with. In fact, I find your take on the matter to be in complete contradiction (or at least in complete ignorance of) the very post you’ve made.

  11. Gnuosphere,

    I hope you’ll take a look at the resources I shared with you.

    I don’t understand how you got the impression that I am against children understanding the tools they use or constructing knowledge. My entire career has been built on that very proposition.

    If you are so inclined you may look at a sampling of my work at http://www.stager.org/articles.

    You wrote…

    “And I, of course, respectfully disagree that it doesn’t matter if learners can learn about (and share their knowledge about) the very tools they use to construct either physical or virtual objects with. In fact, I find your take on the matter to be in complete contradiction (or at least in complete ignorance of) the very post you’ve made.”


    PS: I followed the Blogger link to your old blog. How are you connecting Jonathan Kozol to Open Source software? I’m just curious. I asked a question on the blog before realizing that you have switched platforms.

    My 2 cents… Since Mr. Kozol writes his books long-hand on legal pads, I suspect that he has no views on open source software. He does however have a lot to say about children of poverty and public education.

  12. Gary:

    I hope you’ll take a look at the resources I shared with you.

    However, if you must have a free Logo, might I recommend the following: Berkeley Logo, Starlogo TNG, NetLogo

    First off, we must have free Logo. However, Berkeley Logo is the only free Logo listed here (GPL). The other two are proprietary. It appears as though you are not familiar with what free software is. Perhaps this is causing a misunderstanding. I couldn’t care less if NetLogo charged $100 a copy. What I think is that students should have the freedom to tinker with and share the tools they use. That’s all.

    I don’t understand how you got the impression that I am against children understanding the tools they use or constructing knowledge. My entire career has been built on that very proposition.

    I didn’t (and wouldn’t) say you are “against” it. But I would say it appears that you are not “for” it when it comes to software. You seem fine sacrificing social solidarity and promoting ignorance if one tool is more powerful than another. Apparently you don’t see it this way, but these are facts inherent in proprietary software tools. Is it that you only believe in your philosophy if the tools are physical in nature? If your “entire career” has been based on a constructive philosophy then how can you justify your apathy toward the licensing of software tools in education? The licensing directly impacts the level to which students have the freedom to construct knowledge, garner knowledge, and participate in a bonded community. Is this not true?

    As for Jonathan Kozol, I’ve responded to your comment on my blog. He has nothing to do with Microsoft or free/open source software. The title of the post is absurd to point out the absurdity of what happened.

    As far as I know, JK doesn’t even have an email address.

  13. Gnuosphere,

    I tried helping you and your students by offering alternatives to the pseudologo you are teaching with.

    I understand perfectly well that there is a distinction between free and free open-source software.

    What do you teach? Will your students actually alter the source of the programming environment they use or is this a political statement you are making? It’s cool if this is the reason that software has to be GNU/free. We may agree to disagree about the educational benefit/consequence of that choice, but I have no problem with you thinking that’s important.

    There are many levels of making things and every system has a level of opacity or “black-boxness.” You could use any of the Logos I suggested for decades without exhausting their constructive potential. In fact, the nice thing about programming environments (especially good ones) is that they are extensible, so you may add functionality – I realize that this is at the interpreter level.

    Given how limited the KTurtle software is, I was trying to offer your students a more robust learning environment.

  14. Given how limited the KTurtle software is, I was trying to offer your students a more robust learning environment.

    Thank you. I’m playing around with the Berkeley Logo as I type.

    Will your students actually alter the source of the programming environment they use or is this a political statement you are making?

    The fact is, they should have the freedom to do so if they so choose. With proprietary software, the door is closed no matter what. To argue that only the minority would exercise their freedom to program thus making that freedom unimportant is unfortunately shallow. It seems as though this is what you are implying through your question. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Is it a political statement? No, not in this context. In this context, it’s more a pedagogical statement. But of course, you can never separate broad ideas like politics and education completely. For instance, is the debate around NCLB a political or educational debate?

    There are many levels of making things and every system has a level of opacity or ‘black-boxness.’

    Not free software. It literally has no ‘black-boxness’ about it. It’s free of any box-like nature.

  15. Gary, curse you for pressing my button. And, btw, I love Web2.0topia as a term.

    [Teachers, read all the way through. I’m actually on your side here.]

    Now as to why none of it is found in schools, well I have a theory too. As you know, Gary, I’m a conspiracy theorist and as such have a sociopolitical theory about the general failure of the k-12 activity system to embrace technology for anything other than automating attendance, spamming parents, and creating report cards. It goes something like this:

    FIrst, teaching, as a profession, has allowed itself (thank you teacher unions) to be controlled by legislatures, with the full backing of citizens, all of whom have gone to some school and are thereby instantly experts on the subject. (We can talk about the historical progression that got us here some other time.) To make matter worse, the teacher community has capitulated any sense of teaching as a profession. While unions argue about salaries and benefits and physical working conditions, teachers jobs have been rewritten. They are now implementers, held accountable for the quality and fidelity of their implementation, as determined by measurements selected by people as far away from the actual implementation as possible. (Gee, kinda sounds like an auto assembly plant, huh? No wait, successful auto companies DO take advice and input and DO share production control with their front line workers to a greater degree, don’t they?)

    Second, while it’s true there is some “learned helplessness” (Seligman, ’65) in the teacher ranks, I think a larger proportion of the teacher force is caught up in a conspiracy to stonewall their oppressors. And teachers really are an oppressed. Oppressed people often are left with passive aggression as their best or only weapon. In this case, we armed them with the weapon, and now they are turning it on us. For decades the unions and legislators have been playing the “you can’t do this without professional development” game. You can’t teach Early Childhood Educ., you can’t teach Reading, you can’t teach Math, and now, of course you can’t teach Technology without professional development.

    In the olden days, around the 60s and 70s, professional development did tend to focus on understanding the theory behind the proposed (often legislated) curricular change. But teachers moaned about that, now didn’t they. (It’s okay, I can say that, I was a moaner myself when the IEP stuff hit.) Just tell me what I’m supposed to do. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened. Professional development turned into implementation training.

    The thing is, at least for me, we’re not saying teach technology. I grant there might be pedagogical knowledge to acquire about how to teach, er implement, Open Court (?!). But, what we’re saying is USE technology. Just use it. Please.

    Conspiracy Part
    Now I believe this is a resistance conspiracy because I believe that almost every teacher actually owns and uses computer-based technologies outside of school already. They Tivo; they use cell phones to text msg; they use email, take and share digital photos, surf the web, read and possibly write blogs, conduct commercial transactions online, seek information, engage with online communities (such as quilting or gardening or, ironically, teaching) and so on.

    If you are a technology user, and you have knowledge about curriculum and learning (c’mon, we credentialed you; you went to school for this), then the insights about how to use technology to accomplish learning shouldn’t require additional training. It should be a natural consequence of your own experience as a teacher. I mean, hell, my doctor uses a wifi laptop. I don’t think he had an inservice on how to integrate laptops into his practice.

    To “use” or “integrate” technology into your teaching doesn’t require you to have a 1:1 laptop program with a wifi network supporting it. It doesn’t even require you to buy software or upgrade it regularly. (Frankly, I now do all my document writing in Google docs, not MS Word. It’s free; my docs are accessible from any machine; and it’s easily shared without doing email attachments.)

    I already hear some people saying, no I don’t own a computer; I don’t text msg from my cell phone; I don’t Tivo; I don’t read, let alone write, a blog; I don’t buy movie tickets online, and so on. If that’s true, you’re in trouble. Retired seniors and youngsters are doing these things. It’s not hard.

    But to be a Web 2.0 (or Logo or whatever) user, you have to have the vision of that as part of your identity, as part of your profession. You have to embrace change in the general outside world, and realize how it affects your work, work that allegedly includes preparing our kids for the world.

    Let me be clear, I’m not advocating educational software. I personally think that’s a real loser. I am talking about using real world tools to better carry out educational activities, and in some cases to modify and improve educational activities.

    So…I think the lack of tech in schools is a result of the degradation of the teaching profession to an implementing profession, at least in K-8; I cannot speak for the high schools. maybe there’s still some freedom and dignity there. I think K-8 teachers are holding back cause they’re pissed, and with good cause, at a system that has stolen their dream.

  16. Gary,

    I do agree with much of your post. The only one I see that seems contrary to your point is your reference to Scratch. It seems to me that Scratch is an introductory step to Logo and was created for education. Just had to put in my thoughts.


  17. I mostly agree with you – it was really nice to be part of Logo culture and to be with Papert, Kay and Illich.
    There are no same persons inside 2.0 culture – but the is a lot of persons which were and are involved in Logo culture and now are involved in 2.0

    From my point of view all these wiki pages inside our Russian http://Letopisi.ru are very the same with NetLogo turtles – simple rules and complex behavior

    Bug in
    Nikolai Lenin: From a Lenin-like view of revolution
    Sorry, but Lenin first name was Vladimir

  18. Tadge,

    You are certainly correct about Scratch’s pedigree. I only mentioned it in the context of an exact quote from the original article I addressed.

    Scratch does some things terrifically well, especially the community features. It does however have a low threshold and low ceiling. It’s very easy to do simple things in it, but the range of possibilities is limited.

    I’ve seen people openly hostile to Logo embrace Scratch. Perhaps they don’t know that Scratch essentially is Logo, created by many of the same people, but for a different audience and context.

  19. I didn’t read all the comments, in fact I didn’t read past the title: “Why Teachers Don’t Use Web 2.0 – an historical perspective”.
    “An historical”?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!?! How about using correct grammar? That would be: ‘A historical…’

    Good grief!

  20. I read your posting on ‘Why Teachers Don’t Use Web 2.0 – an historical perspective’ and thought that you might be interested in hearing more about how a few of the higher education-based schools are using Wikis to run their classes. For those schools that are not yet up and running Web 2.0 it could be helpful to hear from those that have implemented it and maybe even assist on the new adoption front?

  21. I have been mulling over your post lately and I don’t get something. You state, “The Web 2.0 tools promoted by Warlick and Utecht were not created by educators or for children.”

    Is there “no” value in anything “not” created by educators or for children?

    Web 2.0 tools are not the focus of a good lesson. Many of the current web 2.0 tools can be used as a means to engage students in a lesson that focuses on an identifiable skill, objective or standard the teacher has chosen.

  22. Interesting article and comments. I’m a member of several teaching communities and all I read in them is how they are using Web 2.0 in classroom. I think for those that have fears which is understandable should visit http://www.classroom20.com. The members of this community are always willing to share their experiences good or bad.

  23. In our primary school ( 3 – 11yrs) the children using web 2.0 tools the most are taught by adults who also use web 2.0 tools in their own learning. My class of 9 – 10 year olds are blogging and participating in online discussions out of school hours, with children from other schools. If teachers could just accept that they are learners too then they would be happier perhaps to function in ‘classrooms without walls.’

  24. I realize that for the most part Web 2.0 tools are not created with an educational theory or intent in mind (unlike the Logo program) but I think that they very much have a place in the classroom. These read/write tools are one way to make our students information literate as well as hone their global communication skills. Students need to know how to function in a virtual world as well as the real world. As educators, we need to help our students become life-long learners who are able to adapt to change, and are self-directed and social savvy information consumers. They need these skills to survive in today’s job market.

    I don’t think that just because a tool is not created by or with educational pedagogy in mind that it should be deemed as no good. I think that a good 21st century teacher can take a stick off the ground and make a wonderful lesson out of it.

    This blog says that the Logo program was made by “psychologists, computer scientists, learning theorists, mathematicians and teacher collaborators.” Web 2.0 takes that a step further and allows students to interact with psychologists, computer scientists, learning theorists and mathematicians via the web, using Skype for example.

    Web 2.0 tools such as podcasting require students to gather, synthesize and produce their own information. This is not part of the old passive pedagogy. Web 2.0 tools can shift the control of learning to the student and away from the teacher.

    I could dismiss the bulleted points one by one but I’ll just end with this one: “Web 2.0 attracts very little interest in the educational psychology or even teacher education communities.” I invite you to attend the next Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association conference, or at least look online at the list of sectionals that were offered this year. Web 2.0 was a big part of our 2008 conference.

  25. I have a colleague that regularly shows “videos” in his history classes. Recently when a student had missed class he handed her the “video” so that she could make up the class. She responded by saying “What am I going to do with this?” We have other teachers who think incorporating technology into the classroom means that each student needs to make a PowerPoint presentation.
    Why don’t teachers use Web 2.0 tools? It certainly is not for a lack of collegial settings or leading intellectuals or even social causes. It is definitely not because we are “commanded to recite from scripted lessons” or because we have “become passive and compliant”! Many teachers of today were probably raised on Logo, so that is not lost on them… In my opinion the reason is probably the same reason that they don’t do a lot of things! Time and training! Although access to the internet isn’t as robust as it could be, the reason we aren’t avid Web 2.0 users isn’t because we don’t do technology or don’t have the interest in being part of the technology movement. My gradebook, attendance and IEP program are all web-based and my email box is always stuffed! I have written a regular blog, set up a teacher webpage, googled earth with my students, and begun podcasting. I have regular visits with my grandson on a webcam and have explored Facebook and MySpace so that I know about the social networking that is a big part of my students’ lives. Our school has purchased interactive reading interventions, math tools and assessments. We have computer labs, dozens of laptops, Smartboards and several Macs with all of the video editing capabilities. We are moving in the right direction… but slowly. I wish I had more hours in my day to sit in front of a computer to try all the things that are out there. I wish there was someone that could sort it all out, sifting out the really good stuff, and then teach it to me! Professional development in the area of Web 2.0 tools needs to become the reality in my neck of the woods. That being said, perhaps we need to put our students out there, let them explore the tools and let THEM teach us!

  26. I've been experimenting with various task & project management tools and have discovered an excellent site. It is a very user friendly, web-based application that is well worth taking the time to explore. Take a few minutes and look at Projjex.com. The tutorials are excellent & you don't need to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out how to use it. It even offers a free version so you can try it on for size.

  27. I found your article to be interesting and informative. Having been a teacher for the past 7 years and just entering my 30’s, I find myself constantly trying to stay up with my students’ knowledge of the internet and the various computer programs out there. I try to stay up-to-date on current trends in tehnology through college courses, summer institutes, conversations with my students and other various professional development opportunities. At times, it almost seems like a daunting task to continue to do this since more and more is developed daily.

    Even with my personal investment of time and money to learn all of this new technology the one thing that holds me back from incorporating more technology into my classroom is TIME. I think it’s easy for anyone who is not teaching in the classroom everyday to criticize what teachers “should” be doing. So often these “outsiders” forget the numerous other aspects associated with our job title. Also, what if the school administration is not supportive? How does a teacher get around this?

    When I look at your reasons as to why LOGO is better than Web 2.0 tools, I have mixed feelings and don’t necessarily agree with your reasoning. Just because web 2.0 tools were not created by a teacher does not mean that they have no purpose in the classroom. To me this reasoning has no leverage in my mind. If you think this is a valuable reason, do we dismiss everything else that is used in our classrooms that has a “corporate” association with it?

    Overall, I think you make some valuable remarks, but there are definately two sides to the issue.

  28. I’m puzzled as to why Logo is held up as a paragon of progressive education / technology adoption. As you put it yourself in one brief, vague paragraph, logo was axed by commercial pressure and “teachers with other priorities.” For all of its supposed advantages – research based, developed by educators, focus on children – it still didn’t survive as a widespread teaching/learning practice.

    “The story of Logo” only leaves me with the impression that no matter how wonderful, and good for students, and stimulating to teachers — technology trends will rise and fall.

    And now a new technology has risen and it’s Web 2.0 and despite the laundry list of faults you present (many of which I disagree with) – its here and now. The students in my high school are living it. I agree it has problems, but that does not take away from its usefulness as ‘part’ of the arsenal of tools I use to engage my students.

    I cannot even be shocked or disappointed that there are those who are unwilling to adopt Web 2.0 tools or who cannot articulate a “manifesto” for its use. That will come if Web 2.0 proves valuable enough to keep around. After all, even a manifesto didn’t save Logo.

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