The new era is also creating a realm of endless mix and match: Anyone with a browser can access vast stores of information, mash it up, and serve it in new ways, to a few people or a few hundred million.
And I think Clarence gets it right when he writes
They have hit a few key ideas head on: “collective wisdom,” “deeply collaborative,” “rapidly tweaked.” The article looks straight through the hype and the hyperbole to the centre of web 2.0; it’s finally about us. It is about the information that we produce, want to use, and can play with. It is about remix culture and bringing us to new places.
As I prep my talk on vidcasting for MACUL this week, I’ve been struck by how many cool examples of mashup I’ve been finding, (here’s one example) and how much I wish I had the time to create more of my own. The Web has become such a fertile ground for this, much more flexible and dynamic than the paper environments we’ve been constrained. It’s a whole different type of content, which is where George Seimens is heading with his mashup reference.
We can now acquire our information in any manner that we desire. Learning, seen as content consumption, doesn’t fit this model anymore. Learners piece together (connect) various content and conversation elements to create an integrated (though at time contradictory) network of issues and concerns. Our learning and information acquisition is a mashup. We take pieces, add pieces, dialogue, reframe, rethink, connect, and ultimately, we end up with some type of pattern (meme?) that symbolizes what’s happening “out there” and what it means to us. And it changes daily. Instead of a CD with the songs of only one artist, we have iPods with a full range of music, video, audio files/books, images, etc. Our classrooms, instead of the pre-packaged views of an instructor or designers should include similar diverse elements.
I love that idea of just breaking out of the textbook mold and presenting teachers and students with all sorts of choices from which to cobble together a more relevant and interesting learning experience. (Remember “Teacher as DJ”?) And then having students perform their own mashups to add to the menu. But that is such a different way of approaching the classroom. (Ironically, I did get a taste of this today when observing one of the Tablet PC teachers who had taken old Civil War photos of dead soldiers and laid the “Gravedigger” track by Dave Matthews over it into a simple PowerPoint. It was a pretty powerful combination, and I could just tell from watching the kids that it made for a much more relevant experience. They actually applauded at the end! Now if only they were creating their own…)
Which leads to David Warlick’s post about mashups today.
My son sits in his bedroom with a TV, VCR, DVD player, video game systems, a small video camera, a digital camera, a computer, and a Video iPod. Each product was initially designed to perform a specific task, allowing us to be entertained or to record images and sound. My son, however, spends his time mixing them together, drawing audio and video from his video games and from movies, and mixing them together with video and still images that he makes of himself and his friends to produce a different and entertaining new information product. Information, to him, is never finished. It’s just a raw material with which he can make something new. It is important, I believe, that we look at curriculum the same way, that it is a raw material, something that we can mix in different ways, and produce learning experiences that help our students to teach themselves.
It’s fun for these kids, no doubt, who are connected and self-motivated and have the equipment. They’re learning, and they don’t even know it. They’re writing, producing, organizing, planning, editing, listening, dreaming, presenting and more. It’s good stuff.
But I wonder how much further down the road they’ll be able to run than the kids who aren’t getting the chance to create and connect their own content either because they can’t afford it or their schools can’t see it. When I think about this, I see amazing potential. But I also see a lot of kids getting left further and further behind. For too many, learning is still pre-packaged, and it will remain so for quite some time unless some major changes occur. The same holds true for educators who are unwilling to imagine what could be, much like the Oscar voters who couldn’t bring themselves to see Brokeback Mountain because of the “unsettling” content (at least for them.)
I agree with George.
As educators, we are not grasping (or prepared for) the depth of the change that is occurring under our feet. If it’s happened (breaking apart the center) in every other industry – movies, music, software, business – what makes us think that our educational structures are immune? And what does it mean to us? What should we be doing now to prepare our institutions? Ourselves? Our learners?
We should all be thinking about that.