So here are some still unpolished ideas about content that seem to have evolved over the last couple of months of presenations and workshops. Obviously, content and the way we create and consume it is what the Read/Write Web is all about.
1. We need to be able to Access Content–The Web is the greatest repository of knowledge and information that we’ve ever had. The fact that a good number of children in this country (and elsewhere) still don’t have access to it is downright sinful. These days, when it seems like knowledge doubles every couple of days, how can those kids be expected to compete, not just with kids around the world, but with kids from my district, for instance? The ironic thing to me is that now with this two way relationship, the one technology that could put everyone on an even playing field is instead just growing the divide between those that have access and those that don’t. Sinful.
2. Teachers and students have to learn to individually and collaboratively Create Content–Especially now when it’s becoming easier and easier to do, teachers need to do this to provide models to students of how to use the tools effectively. Students need to do this to begin creation of a digital portfolio of work that can serve as a lifelong repository of personal learning and reflection. We need to do this collaboratively so as to create our own networks and systems of support that go beyond the traditional classroom and the traditional school day.
3. We need to effectively Collect Content–With so much to consume, the ways in which we find, assess and archive relevant, interesting, important information is a crucial new literacy. This means being able to, manipulate search engines, evaluate sources, read critically, synthesize information, use technologies like RSS, and organize the results in effective ways.
4. We need to effectively Connect Content–Learning is a social act, and very little of what we learn is static and absolute. As George Siemens says, “learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity.” And so we must be skilled at finding ways to connect what we know to the database that is the Web, and, in turn, learn even more from those connections.
What’s overwhelming to me right now is not so much the content as it is the tools that are coming out to access, create, collect and connect all of it together. It feels amazingly crazy at present, and I’m sure that’s not going to slow down any time soon.