Two Articles on Read/Write Education

Education Version 1.0 was essentially read in nature.; Where the flow of information or knowledge was unidirectional – essentially to the student.

Version 2.0 changes that. Technology gives students the ability to interact with the material that they are taught from and this bidirectional flow, or read/write nature, has the ability to change educational models that are stuck in a read-only mode.

Two recent articles talk about this in greater detail.

The first, from the Economist, titled “From literacy to digiracy” asks whether
‘reading and writing remain important?’

What little we know is that our sources of trusted wisdom are eroding fast. When academics pay to have their findings published, invent results or ignore conflicting data to keep a sponsor’s money flowing, it’s hard to view our learned institutions as sources of reliable information.

Nowadays, we seem to put greater faith in the wisdom of crowds. Hence our trust of Google, which ranks a web page by how many other pages are linked to it, and how many other searchers view the page in question. In doing so, we prize the confidence of our peers above that of experts.

In Mr Federman’s view, the quest for truth has given way to the quest for making sense of the world as experienced. For anyone under the age of 20, the world being experienced is one where the internet has always existed, and where everyone who matters is only a click, speed dial or text message away. “Tomorrow’s adults,” says Mr Federman, “live in a world of ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity.” Their direct experience of the world is wholly different from yours or mine.

So, no surprise that when we incarcerate teenagers of today in traditional classroom settings, they react with predictable disinterest and flunk their literacy tests. They are skilled in making sense not of a body of known content, but of contexts that are continually changing.

Teachers must recognise that our pedagogical tools are inconsistent with the skills needed to survive in a world where people are always connected to everyone and everything. In such a world, learning to think for oneself could well be more important than simply learning to read and write.

Hat tip: Kiran Jonnalagadda

The second, is an academic paper titled “A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis”.

Wikis provide new opportunities for learning and for collaborative knowledge building as well as for understanding these processes. This article presents a theoretical framework for describing how learning and collaborative knowledge building take place. In order to understand these processes, three aspects need to be considered: the social processes facilitated by a wiki, the cognitive processes of the users, and how both processes influence each other mutually. For this purpose, the model presented in this article borrows from the systemic approach of Luhmann as well as from Piaget’s theory of equilibration and combines these approaches. The model analyzes processes which take place in the social system of a wiki as well as in the cognitive systems of the users. The model also describes learning activities as processes of externalization and internalization. Individual learning happens through internal processes of assimilation and accommodation, whereas changes in a wiki are due to activities of external assimilation and accommodation which in turn lead to collaborative knowledge building. This article provides empirical examples for these equilibration activities by analyzing Wikipedia articles. Equilibration activities are described as being caused by subjectively perceived incongruities between an individuals’ knowledge and the information provided by a wiki. Incongruities of medium level cause cognitive conflicts which in turn activate the described processes of equilibration and facilitate individual learning and collaborative knowledge building.

The graph is from Ross Mayfield’s excellent post on the Power Law of Participation.


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