So thanks to everyone for their podcast suggestions for the drive up here to Harvard. (Now I need five hours more for the trip back…) And thanks especially to Bud for the pointer to Open Source by Chris Lydon whose interview with Doc Searles, Dave Weinberger and Dave Winer got me thinking more than any other.
Especially the first Dave who spoke briefly about how Web 2.0 is changing his kids’ education and learning habits. Basically, they are practicing social knowledge acquisition, sharing answers and ideas over IM, yet getting graded primarily by how much they can regurgitate as individuals. We’re ignoring the social side of what the Internet is doing. Kids, he said, know the way to be smart is to have smart friends, kind of that “know-where” learning idea of George Siemens that I’ve written about here before.
But here’s what I’m struggling with, and to be honest, I’m not sure why it’s sticking in my brain to the extent it is. There is, I’m feeling, some shift here that we’re going to have to work through regarding our expectations of originality, some redefinition of plagiarism or what our expectations are. If knowledge gets constructed socially, if we and our students are learning by remixing (and yes, I listened to Lessig on the way up as well,) then I guess the question is do our teacherly ideas about original ideas have to be rethought? I hate how muddled this is, but I’m hoping maybe I can corner one of the iLaw gang today or tomorrow to see what they think.
The other interesting idea in the Open Source show was when Weinberger talked about how even our conception of a document has to change, how for hundreds of years we’ve thought of a report or a story as a container of information. But now, with hypertext, a document’s value comes not so much from what it holds but from where it points out of itself to others. I think the reality is that we’re going to have to start teaching students to give research back to us in a web-ified form, complete with links. In five years when we’ve moved beyond paper, hypertext writing (read “blogging”) is going to be a basic literacy. The final mile will be to publish all of that writing in a public blog/portfolio space. Then we’ll be cranking…
David Warlick says
This harkens back to a conversation you and I had at MACUL a couple of months ago, the idea of students constructing their own textbooks. Just think about the kinds of learning that could take place if we expected students to assemble or remix digital content into a growing and ever-deepening learning resource.
It all comes around to information becoming less a product to be consumed, and much more an ongoing global conversation. Copyright has a long way to go to reflect these changes. Creative Commons helps, but we’re going to need something that is both deeper and simpler. Probably impossible! Perhaps when multicast becomes the norm.
See you at NECC! Hope you’ll come by my session on redefining literacy.
— dave —
Will R. says
Hey David…Ironically, I was just this minute talking about this with someone from the Canadian textbook copyright office. (Twilight Zone music plays in background…) And Lessig is just about to step up to the podium here at iLaw. I would add to your comment that information is less something to be consumed than it is to be constructed. And that goes back to my struggle with how we deal with some of the issues that are inevitably going to crop up with this.
I’ll be at NECC on Monday and Thursday during the day and eves on Tues and Wed. If I can make your session I will.
Terry Elliott says
Will, I think Weinberger is onto something here: the metaphor for a document isn’t a container anymore, it’s a conduit. That is a major shift as we move from what it holds to where it holds. This is a radical, even seismic shift in perspective from an embodied perspective. Before the internet all of us were for the most part self-defined, bounded containers, but now the boundaries are at least becoming semi-permeable and in some cases un-bound entirely. What does that mean for schools. Ask our kiddos. They know already and the shifting definition of plagiarism is the classic camel’s nose in the tent. When you change the self’s metaphoric nature, everything else either follows, gets out of the way, or is trampelled.