Thursday, October 7, 2010

Instruction 2.0

Is nothing sacred? How far can the twopointopia wave go? If she thinks that I’m teaching a class via facebook while administering my twitter account all from the iphone 4, she’s got another think coming... In my previous columns I’ve written about how Web 2.0 can be used to help with various aspects of our profession. But Instruction 2.0 seems more populist than a Kirchner with an upcoming election. Should we really be using Web 2.0 tools in instruction sessions just because our students are? In short, no. My attitude to Web 2.0 is driven by the fact that it is more than a set of technologies. Web 2.0 is a state of mind that has deep social and philosophical implications and it is for that reason that instruction gets the twopoint-opian treatment. And really, instruction 2.0 is nothing new; instead, it’s about exploring the relationships between technology and pedagogy to truly take advantage of the potential of Web 2.0. It’s about a new paradigm of learning and collaboration; and if you end up throwing in a tagging schema or a flickr account then that’s a bonus. In this column I plan to explore the background of Instruction 2.0 before moving on to describe some of the theoretical constructs that drive its implementation.

What has caused this leap from Instruction 1.0 to 2.0? For a start, it’s important to recognise that the internet has reformed the concept of information. We produce over 2000 gigabytes of information a second and a wide body of human knowledge can be accessed within seconds from a variety of devices. Increased accessibility to growing amounts of information means that the concept of knowledge has to necessarily change too- knowledge became made or constructed and not found. It has become collaborative and less controlled; a far more creative approach. As a result, these evolving information and knowledge realities are student realities, and it is important that our teaching acknowledges these changes.

Recent shifts in technology have paralleled developments in learning theory. The 1970’s saw the rise of constructivist learning theory, which focused on the process of learning. Constructivism posits that learning is a complex internal process where student prior knowledge is key, and learning is a shared, active process. This has obvious comparisons with Web 2.0. The emphasis on participating and experiencing through Web 2.0 is a constructivist approach. Knowledge that is constructed collaboratively or understood through a combination of facts and human experiences is a Web 2.0 and a constructivist approach. Constructivism’s active, socially situated learning provides an ideal way to absorb the shifts in information and knowledge that form student realities today.

Notwithstanding, higher education has traditionally embraced behaviorist teaching theories that affirm that the environment or a teacher will cause students to learn. E.g. students absorb knowledge from a lecture. The teacher holds the power and responsibility and causes learning to occur. Consequently, there is an obvious disconnect between modern students who are accustomed to active control over their learning and these traditional behaviorist learning theories.

Instruction 2.0, therefore, needs to embrace the changes in the way we communicate and interact. While libraries have adapted to changing information realities, it is important that we also adapt to new learning realities in order to meet students where they are. This is different from using Web 2.0 tools because students are; it is adapting to the social and philosophical changes engendered in the information revolution in order to design for learning today. The structure and nature of the web means there is an increasing need for an emphasis on information evaluation and analysis and that library instruction is more valuable than ever. However Instruction 2.0 needs to participate alongside students in the creation of collaborative learning communities in order to meet student needs fully and to prepare them effectively for the information based future.

[I hesitated to write this column because there are a lot of far more experienced Instruction librarians in SALALM but this is something that I’ve been working on this summer and I wanted to share my preliminary thoughts. In the next column I’ll try and share specific examples of Instruction 2.0.]

Alison Hicks
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