I have found the time to read some of the writers that got me most enthused about teacher and student authoring (Howard Rheingold, Henry Jenkins, Dan Gillmor). Making and coding seem to dominate recent conversations, but I still believe that writing can be more easily generalized as a learning activity. The authors I list were and continue to be promoters of what has come to be called web 2.0, the read/write web, or my preference – the participatory web. I intend to visit this topic several times when I have time to write during the holiday season.
My preference for the phrase “participatory web” as an educational construct comes from the focus on participation. Learners not only receive information, but cognitively act on information. This is the core idea in constructivism (note cognitive activity and not physical activity is key). What came with web 2.0 tools were the opportunities to contribute.
Jenkins writes about the many ways in which individuals contribute to benefit others on the Internet. He notes that there are quick and easy ways to contribute. The easy options include liking, +ing, retweeting, tagging. Folks who engage in such activities for personal benefit improve the potential of online content for the entire community.
However, I think it is important to recognize that participatory activities can be positioned along a continuum. More demanding activities offer greater learning benefits to those who invest more in creating content and also provide greater value to the community. If no one creates content, there is nothing to tag, curate, or pass on to others. In other words, creating content has the greatest personal and collective value.
My concern is that with the focus on “easy” socialization and microblogging we are missing this point regarding the value of participation at the more demanding end of the continuum. My point is that educators consider the positioning of activities along the participatory continuum personally and in terms of the activities they encourage in their students.