July 23, 2024


I’m a curious guy who wonders a lot about the forces and rhetoric influencing education. At the risk of kicking a hornet’s nest and incurring the wrath of being flamed, I wish to raise what I honestly believe to be an important issue. If you are unfamiliar with my work, outspoken opposition to the standards movement, commitment to equity or embrace of computers in education, I humbly ask you to consider the questions posed in this blog post in the spirit with which they are intended – to stimulate thoughtful professional dialogue or at least Google my body of work.

A handful of educators have been blogging now for more than a decade. Countless others have fallen in love with social media. They make conference presentations showing viral YouTube videos and lead Twitter workshops. There is more than an air of grandiosity that accompanies the use of the tools known collectively as Web 2.0. This self-importance is manifest in two ways.

  1. Frustration that every educator hasn’t joined the PLN/PLC/social network/Twitterverse/blogopshere, because “if they only knew what I know…”
  2. A few gazillion blog posts and tweets proclaiming the use of Web 2.0 as either already having transformed education or the prediction that it will transform education. A variation on this theme is the threat that social media will destroy, replace or delegitimize formal education.

Don’t shoot the messenger,  but I have a very serious question to ask.

In this era of heightened educational “accountability,” why are there so few, if any, demands being made for evidence of Web 2.0’s efficacy in schools?

I have my own hypotheses, but I would prefer to read some of yours.

7 thoughts on “Accountability?

  1. Web 2.0 transforming education … Not really. It gives options in which students can present work, but this is not really game changing. Using Googledocs to type a paper or create a presentation is not different than writing on a piece of paper or typing in MS Word. Googledocs could be a nice tool, but when you are collaborating with the person sitting across the table from you it becomes gimmicky and worthless. I use Twitter, Facebook and occasionally blog, but beyond but does using these revolutionize education? How is writing a blog any better than keeping a journal at your desk…yes it lets student work be out there, but if they are not being given the opportunity to freely create and write then it is all for not. They will hate blogging as much as they hate writing…and in case you have not realized kids do not hate writing, they hate being restricted in the writing process by meaningless writing prompts. They do not hate history…they hate memorizing mundane dates and facts, but they love debating and thinking. Web 2.0 stuff is cool and interesting but we are missing the real point…we have to let our kids create…really create and be passionate about they do using anything that will help them create.

  2. > why are there so few, if any, demands being made for evidence of Web 2.0′s efficacy in schools?

    I don’t think this is correct. Many demands are being made regarding the educational efficacy of web 2.0. I think that before you ask for an explanation of a putative fact, the onus is on you to demonstrate that it is a fact.

  3. “why are there so few, if any, demands being made for evidence of Web 2.0′s efficacy in schools?” Gary!!!! this one’s simple. How many of our administrators at school; district or other higher level understand what they are; how to use them effectively as part of education or how to integrate them into improving education. Your comment regarding the HSC and it still being handwritten is the case in point.

  4. Because:
    Weighed against the total number of teachers, there are still a relative few actually using web 2.0 tools effectively.

    Administrators, by & large, with notable exceptions, are not willing to invest the time necessary to understand the tools themselves, and therefore don’t know how to evaluate effective use.

    Preparing students for a world in which these tools are used as naturally as breathing is not on the standardized tests.

    We’re still stubbornly stuck in the industrial education model in almost all of the institutionalized aspects of instruction. As long as worksheets, desks in rows and “sage on the stage” are still the primary means of teaching and acceptable with administrators, very little will change and therefore proof of effectiveness will not matter.

    Effective use of web 2.0 tools and even tools that go considerably beyond web 2.0 tends to require higher level thinking skills and the challenge to make something that demonstrates creativity and innovation. Almost none of our assessment tools require this kind of deep learning and, in fact, deliberately avoid it.

    There’s much more, but these points are the beginning of an answer.

  5. I’m with Dennis. I think we (as ed-tech proponents) are such a small, small percent of the teaching population that what seems like a big (and, dare I say old) idea to us is just beginning to grab a grassroots hold everywhere else.

    I’d wager another piece of the puzzle is that everything changes so quickly that it’s almost impossible to get solid data on whether stuff is helping or not.

  6. There are people starting to study the use of “Web 2.0” tools and social media in schools. My question for you is how would you expect to show “efficacy” in schools? The default that everyone always goes to is to how does it effect test scores. I know that you would agree with me that I could care less about those scores. Therefore how would you expect to “prove” that these tools are useful/not useful in schools?

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