Steve Dembo, author of the Teach42 blog, has a thoughtful post today on how many new innovations have come out in the last 90 days— and how he is struggling to catch up. I posted the following on his blog as a comment, and am re-posting it here. The first paragraph is in reference to some suggestions John Pederson made in a post comment in the same thread:

Good suggestion John, I will have to try that method out myself. I find I sometimes save a blog post I want to read in my browser toolbar and come back to it, but that isn’t efficient for large numbers of posts I want to read later (scalable), nor does it permit social sharing like your method does. So thanks for the ideas.

You are absolutely right on this post, Steve, the rate and quantity at which new technologies and resources are coming out is astounding. If people are not connected to the blogosphere and participating in the read/write web, I don’t see any way people can be aware of even a fraction of what is available and going on. At the TechForum this past week, I was surprised by how many people had never heard of Creative Commons. Almost no one I meet here in Lubbock has heard of WikiPedia. I take both these things for granted basically. So something is going on here that really needs to be addressed.

I think part of the answer is getting educators involved in participating in the read/write web. This needs to be required for professional development, teacher certification, and continuing education. Of course we want people to voluntarily participate, but I think participation needs to be required for many to give it more than a second glance.

So many people are overloaded and overwhelmed with information and tasks today, that many (if not most) would see read/write web participation as something they can’t physically do. I think it is safe to say there is a new digital divide emerging, which is not hardware based. Even for people who have the hardware and other things required to connect them to the web, the vast majority of educators out there are are not engaged in the read/write web. I think I may do an upcoming podcast or article on this topic. It is really important.

Thanks for the post, and good luck catching up on the last 90 days! 🙂

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On this day..

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2 Responses to A new digital divide?

  1. I’m not sure I agree with the concept of making read-write web obligatory as part of teacher development (if that is, indeed, what you are implying).

    There are many areas of personal/professional development that are important to some individuals that are patently not for others, even when it might be ‘good’ for them to spend some time learning about them. I, for example, am less interested in mind-mapping than my colleagues, but they use this in their lessons and just “cannot imagine” someone not using mind-mapping at every available opportunity.

    It comes down to the WIIFM Factor (What’s In It For Me?). I am currently showing teachers in Scotland how blogging is a useful tool for sharing learning logs. Now, nearly all teachers see the benefit of learning logs (someone else did the hard work in convincing them of that). Using a blog is one, easy-to-understand step up from that. So more of them are now dabbling in it.

    If there’s one thing you cannot do with teachers it is force their hand. We are professionals and respond best when we are provided opportunities that clearly help our professionalism to improve.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    I agree, saying something is “mandatory” often takes the wind out of people’s sails and can be counterproductive. However, we have to figure out how to transform classrooms broadly to a new paradigm of digital literacy, and not just make this a voluntary endeavor. We may have a few folks who are doing this now on each campus, but we need to have more. A fundamental question which I don’t think anyone has answered satisfactorily is how we can fundamentally shift people’s practices in education to embrace and encourage the development of digital literacy. Maybe when all the students have laptops, that will cause the change…. I don’t know. The WIIFM factor is certainly critical to realize. I am making the point here that in teacher education programs (which do have mandatory components) including read/write web experiences is something that we need to look at and do. There is not a silver bullet for helping constructively reform education, but I think the types of collaborative and reflective exchanges you see happening with read/write web technologies can form an element of that answer.

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