An addendum to my story from yesterday:
My colleague’s brother is a high school principal in a major East Coast city, and during a phone call they had yesterday, the conversation turned to the Internet.
“My teachers are complaining that the quality of their student papers is just getting worse and worse,” the principal said. “And it’s because they’re getting such bad information from the Internet. Are there any lists of ‘reputable’ sites out there that we can get our kids to use?”
My colleague, who has had the misfortune of sitting through many of my information literacy harangues, and who is a very smart person himself, said “Why don’t you do some professional development for your teachers and show them how to teach kids to find good sources?”
“Oh, no,” the principal said. “They won’t want to do that. They don’t have the time for it.”
“Well, don’t you think the kids need to learn how to use the Internet effectively as a research tool?” my friend said.
“I think it’s better for everyone if we just give them a list of sites they can use when they do their papers,” the principal said, “and tell them they have to have a certain number of those resources in the final product.”
Now, this is a loose transcript of the conversation, but the point is clear. Instead of teaching effective use of the tool, the easy way is to limit the reach of the tool, rein it in and limit its effect. If that is or will become the prevailing view, we are all in serious, serious trouble…
…and Stephen Downes seems to think that might already be the case:
But the thing is, this is not a new insight. So why do we keep getting pulled back from anything like real learner centered learning?…It doesn’t take a course in dialectical materialism to see it being shut down. Today’s theme? Take back the web.
A call to arms, perhaps?