In the new publication Theses on the deployment of Web 2.0 for Teaching from Zürich, Switzerland, (PDF in German), Prof. Schulmeister dissects web 2.0 for teaching.
Several ones of his 18 theses center around the observation that students use web 2.0 apps mostly
- for leisure and entertainment, social communication, cultivation of relationships, identity and sometimes narcissm (1 – 3, 12, 14 – 17),
- instead of information management or transferring the new literacies to learning, which is perceived as something completely different (4 – 7).
This missing transfer was already discussed previously.
The other group of theses mention diversity and argue that web 2.0 learning is not suited for all people or all academic scenarios. There are problems with
- non-voluntary tasks and assessments (10 and 13)
- disciplines such as natural sciences where the role of discourse and communication is less significant than in humanities, cultural studies, or social sciences (9);
- some topics and goals that are not fitting to “informal or parenthetic” learning, self-selecting, autonomously organized learning processes, or participative/ community learning, but require “the acquisition of systematic knowledge and critical examination of historically bequeathed knowledge stocks”, and individualized learning (8);
- the majority of learners that are not active (11, and related: 18).
The last argument about active/ productive vs. receptive learners is IMHO the severest one, because I have always been appeciative of people shunning the different style and the extra effort of the participative kind of learning. During my own study, participative style equated synchronous, rapid, oral style that does not suit people who today may enjoy asynchronous, reflective, literal participation. So I probably did not sufficiently value the enormous extra depth of learning associated with this extra effort. And today, Bologna-marred students just cannot afford any extra effort because of the incredible, unhealthy mass of content matter to be memorized.
Ironically, the author does not see it pessimistically, that active students are always a minority, in each given topic. Instead, he welcomes the underlying diversity of interests and motivations. Obviously, he presupposes that students must learn much content in topics that are not of interest for them. So the old controversy between depth or breadth might be present here, again?
I am optimistic that, with true diversity of selected exemplary subjects to be explored in depth, sufficient breadth is more likely achieved than with “core knowledge“.