Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Curtis J. Bonk - Wandering Through the Wonders of Web 2.0

I first became aware of Professor Curtis J. Bonk after reading through a few Educational Technology blogs. I ran across his website and he routinely speaks at conferences regarding topics that I have been very interested in. So, when I found he was a featured speaker at GAETC 2007, I made sure to go to his first session.

First of all, he's a dynamo. I was exhausted by the end of his lecture as quickly as he was going through his presentation. The focus was the wonders of Web 2.0 and what current technology innovations had helped to "flatten" the world. Flatten meaning tools that have made it possible for people to interact globally regardless of physical constraints.

He first began by comparing education throughout the centuries. One particularly interesting point he had was all of the innovations of the 1950's for teachers such as record player, OPAC machines, tape recorders, etc. Teachers were overwhelmed, resistant, reluctant, and feared this technology. Sound familiar? Teachers today have much the same reaction when faced with current technologies.

Contrast those innovations with what we have today! Ipods, Internet enabled cell-phones, text messaging, handhelds, digital video, virtual experiences, and the ability to receive instant feedback given the expansion of broadband capabilities. In April 2007 there were 75 million blogs and 173 million personalized pages on MySpace.

He also spoke of Neomillenial Learning styles where students:

  • learn using multiple forms of media
  • actively seek, collect, and synthesize experiences rather than absorb from a single "best" resource
  • actively learn and collaboratively reflect
  • approach learning in a non-linear way
  • co-design learning experiences
The real skill is not to lengthen your attention span, but to multi-task. I found this to be particularly provocative because of how difficult it would be for some teachers to grasp this as being a "good thing". Typically it isn't something teachers want our students to do since many educators have yet to move beyond the "sage on the stage" approach to teaching and learning. However, 21st century skills demand that our students become more and more adept at juggling a variety of tasks.

Curtis also spoke about "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman and that there are ten forces that flattened the world. For example, in 1860 the telegraph flattened the world by providing a quick means of communication that before then had not been possible. Now, instead of the telegraph and telephone we have text messaging and blogs. It's amazing how far we've come.

He outlined the ten forces with examples, but it's far too much to list here. I'll post this for now, but I'll come back and add some of the more interesting resources he mentioned. All in all, I enjoyed his session, but I was very overwhelmed, and it will take some time to digest everything so I can determine how I can use and /or share the information with others.