I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how at it’s core these technologies are all about content. Obviously, that in itself is nothing earth shattering, but sometimes I find myself really in awe as to the transformational potential of the Read/Write Web when it comes to curriculum. Certainly, the ability for our students to easily create and share content in many different forms requires us to shift our thinking about how best to make relevant the learning that takes place in our classroom. But the more profound shift for teachers, I think, is how we deliver curriculum to our kids.
Think about textbooks, for instance. I can’t begin to guess the amount of money we spend on texts at my school but I’m sure it’s a staggering amount. It’s also a staggering waste. Here’s what you can do with a text book: read it. You can also lose it, rip the pages out, deface the cover, and generally abuse it until it has to be replaced. But as far as a delivery vehicle for content goes, you can basically only consume it by reading it.
Here’s what you can’t do with a textbook:
Think of how much more interactivity we have with digital content, how much more power we have to make meaning of that content through connecting ideas and people with it.
True story…yesterday, one of the supervisors at my school came up to me a showed me a printed 300+ text that one of our teachers had put together for a course. Amazing piece of work, and it was all in digital form on one of the shared netowork drives that our students have access to. The first thing I thought was that this should be a wiki where students could go in and consume the content but also interact with it. Push back where appropriate. Annotate it with their own examples and experiences. Be able to access it from home with their parents and experience it together.
The first thing I said, however, was “This should be online.” The supervisor, who is an amazing educator, said, “it is online, it’s on the network.” Oy.
We have a long way to go in our thinking about all of this, but the age of dynamic, interactive content is here now, and we should be pushing our teachers to move away from just depending on a printed text to delivery their curriculum. Books still have their place, for now, but I can’t imagine we’re going to keep them around in their present form for too much longer.