Thursday, May 7, 2009

Report issues warning over impact of Web 2.0 on teaching and learning

An article in this week's Times Higher looks at a report on the impact of web2.0 on teaching and learning.

As with so many things, web2.0 is seen as good in parts - and very bad in others! "Academics who spoke to the committee, which was led by Sir David Melville, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, expressed "strong reservations" about students' ability to critically evaluate information from the web.

The committee says that information literacy is a "significant and growing deficit area", although it adds that Web 2.0 has also encouraged experimentation, collaboration and teamwork by students."

This is a key issue as students, and staff, increasingly move to using web based resources (especially in a What Would Google Do? kind of way, where the advice is to "link to the rest"), and use web2.0 tools for sharing materials. The role of the University and the tutor will have to be a lot more about developing student skills in critical thinking need to interpret and assess credibility/relevance of source material. Indeed the article states "Universities are not controlling information any more. What they should be doing is supporting students in becoming much more critical thinkers."

The report also notes that use of web2.0 is patchy, and driven by enthusiasts - this is to be expected by any technological advance, where early adopters take the risk of experimentation prior to main stream adoption. Interestingly students are seen as being wary of engaging in online discussion initiated by staff - this links perfectly with the work on Tensions Between Innovation and Control by Mark Stiles.

One of the last comments in the report is the suggestion that students might teach their tutors to use web2.0 technology! Yep, I think we know how well that might go down! But again, going back to the innovation vs control argument, could the reluctance to engage in these tools be due to a fear of loss of control?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"What would Google do" sounds about right for some of the FYP's I've been reading this month.
Possibly "What does wikipedia paraphrase" is a big more accurate.