WCC2010: Education must shift from e-learning to school 2.0

Students learning more ‘outside the classroom’

Schools must instil Web 2.0 skills in students if computers in classrooms are to move from e-learning to a collaborative learning model, according to one expert in the field.

Speaking at the recent World Computing Congress in Brisbane, founder of Classroom 2.0, Steve Hargadon, said education is struggling to make sense of technology.

“Our story of education and the idea of learning is broken - the story doesn’t make sense anymore. We’re holding devices like iPads that we’ve wanted forever and these are being banned in schools,” he said.

Hargadon said while society is being overcome by a wave of innovation and collaboration, institutions like schools are struggling to keep up.

“For most of us, we’re learning more outside of institutions rather than inside the institutions. The idea that you need to be good at school to be good at work is no longer true.”

Director of Macquarie University’s e-learning centre, James Dalziel, echoed Hargadon’s sentiments at the congress.

“The kinds of skills students need in society are different to the ones created in the factory model of the past. There’s been a shift from what you know to how you learn and think about the world,” Dalziel said.

“Within traditional education, there’s been a strong focus on rote learning and knowledge acquisition. Too often students would like to be more innovative but teachers are expected to grade students in a rigid way.”

Hargadon said while institutions are loosing their grip on power, social networking sites like Facebook are continuing to grow.

“Large institutions don’t do a good job of creating change. These solutions match the institutions but don’t match the needs of the students,” he said.

“We have a social network with over 500 million members. And those people on Facebook have more in common with each other than in their own countries.”

Dalziel said students can develop important psychological skills like metacognition - the knowledge of learning - through collaboration and social networking.

“If you ask where collaboration is, it’s often neglected within schools and universities. There has been use of discussion and forum tools [internally], but this isn’t collaborative.”

Dalziel has fostered an online community around collaboration and some 6,000 teachers in 80 plus countries are using this to plan Web 2.0 based activities for students.

"Students are able to self register themselves on the website, and the software has put together selections of teaching techniques and templates on how to run Web 2.0 programs.”

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