If I sent you into the woods. . .

I’ve been thinking about the role of Web 2.0 skills in terms of technology and immediately thought of this bit by Joe Rogan (NSFW -Language).  Where he poses the question, “If I sent you into the woods with a hatchet, how long would it take you to send me an email?”

Looking at my friends who went into other fields of study I wonder how much they actually use Web 2.0 skills.  My first example is my friend Dave, he got his Masters degree from the University of Waterloo in “Encryption technologies as it relates to satellite communication”.  Basically he did a vast amount of studying on how to encrypt cell phone signals.  If I was to ask him how much Web 2.0 skills helped in doing the work that he does (which is working for Research in Motion doing signal testing), he would tell me not at all.  Dave is one of the people that helps to make the web accessible from your cell phone and he doesn’t rely on the skills that we are saying are really important.

My friend Warren went and got a Masters degree in Aritficial Intelligence.  He then went work at EA sports for a year where he was a programmer.  If I asked him whether he would have found any of the Web 2.0 tools useful when he was working at EA sports or during his schooling he would have said no.  When comparing the students who supposedly know so much about video games, which when we really look at it they are just consumers of video games and talking about it afterwards. 

If I quizzed any of my other friends who have done various Masters programs/Ph.D. programs in everything from English to Neuroscience, I would bet almost any amount of money that they would say that they didn’t use Web 2.0 tools during their time at school.

Like Joe Rogan mentions above (paraphrasing): None of us really understand how the things we use work we are just consuming it.  While our students are able to use the technology they don’t understand how any of it works.  Computers/cell phones are magic devices that they just use and have no concept of any of the layers of infrastructure that go into those devices.  While it isn’t important that they have an understanding of these specific things while they are in high school, the students need to understand that there are other things at play than “My phone isn’t working”. 

The argument can be made that the students we are dealing with aren’t all going to go to this level of education.  Or need an entire understanding of these things.  But if we only focus on that students need to have Web 2.0 skills we are doing our students a disservice because if we are raising a group of consumers then there is going to be far fewer people to push things and find new things to do with computers.


About mrthejud

I'm a teacher at Greenall High School in Saskatchewan.
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3 Responses to If I sent you into the woods. . .

  1. Lisa M Lane says:

    Well, you put me in the woods with a hatchet and it’ll be a few weeks before I can cut anything other than myself….

    What “Web 2.0” skills are we talking about? Click and post? Make a video with your friends? Hardly essential.

    Find a place where you can contribute to help Haiti? A good idea, but do we really need to teach how to do that?

    Deal with tons of conflicting materials, some written by idiots and others by sensible people? Now we’re getting into something important. How to find things. How to critically assess them. How to know what that hatchet is for. Can those things be taught through these wacky web skills, I wonder?

  2. courosa says:

    When I think about teaching Web 2.0 tools, I care less about the tools, and I’m really thinking communication, collaboration, networking, and critical literacy skills. I care less about students being able to create a video, but more about their ability to analyze and synthesize ideas, understand and utilize visual and auditory literacies/skills to create a meaningful/thoughtful message, use networks to create a large dissemination channel, and utilize the same networks for a feedback loop. This is much bigger than posting a cat video to Youtube and tweeting it.

    Thanks for this post, important ideas here.

  3. Alan Stange says:

    You have asked the essential question applied to all our curriculum. We adopt hundreds of student learning outcomes and stress over the appropriate indicators for those outcomes in Saskatchewan and around the world. Which ones are essential for survival we wonder? The hatchet is necessary for the woods, what do we need for the streets? No tool has universal function (okay, perhaps my Swiss Army knife…) so which are more useful? Web 2.0 are consuming, constructing and communicating tools available today. They are powerful contemporary tools. That is essentially it.

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