Week 3.1: The internet evolves, so too does the teacher

Ultimately, the transition from Web 1.0/2.0 to 3.0 (to 4.0 to 5.0) is indicative of humanity’s desire to continually make tools function better.  Of course as has been discussed in the presentation, and what we have talked about in previous classes – functionality becomes weaponized in the wrong hands, and it isn’t the tool’s fault.   We have to keep evolving the tool because the demands and consequences of reality are exponentially increasing – the internet in that regard is a metaphorical representation of our classroom evolution.  When I started, I worked in classroom 1.0, then through patches and updates I managed to work my way up to version 2.0.  Some people complained about the complexity and how the interface was not user friendly, so a more collaborative effort amongst other classrooms started and my room was streamlined to a fully functional 3.0 update.  Some years I got stuck in 2.5, sometimes it was from lack of support, sometimes I just needed to get out of a rut, but regardless – change is a resounding certainty and so I adapt.

The comparisons that Gerstein draws about the evolution and philosophical positions of education underscores the fact that education has to evolve alongside tech.  Technology has become our primary source and gate to knowledge; it makes sense that our first instinct is to utilize the essentialist theoretical framework and situate learners outside of that knowledge – I would argue that it is the easiest approach because it shifts the role of teacher into the role of gatekeeper, it is easier to withhold knowledge from students than it is to walk alongside them in the accumulation of knowledge.  

I don’t think you’ll still find a teacher that upholds the essentialist perspective in their classroom, it doesn’t really make sense to uphold that perspective in a world where our knowledge is fluid and challenged.   Web 3.0 is an entity that embodies an evolutionary step in humanity’s stance about knowledge:  it is an interconnective experience that coalesces perspectives into a deep representation of humanity – the constructivist, connectivist, and social constructivist.  Gerstein summarizes this role concisely: “Education 3.0 is self-determined, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation, and creativity drive education” (p. 90).  

Now interest based learning is a wonderful concept, but the implementation is something that demands attention.  Even if you get all teachers on-board or if you force them and even if you have enough access to technology where students are able to access learning, how do you develop curriculum that is purely self-guided?  How do educators assess outcomes related to freedom of topical selection and inquiry based methods? From a financial position: how do you assess reading levels and funding decisions if there is no single uniform curriculum?  How do those outcomes correlate to postsecondary prerequisites? I don’t intend for these questions to imply a disconnect for me from this concept; rather, I wholeheartedly agree with the movement toward heutagogical theoretical framework, I just think that the questions offers some insight into the timeline for moving toward web 3.0. 

Consider for a moment the outdated curriculum that is still in practice, or the way that curriculum and pedagogical movements are being shut down and attacked.  Take Alberta’s recommendations of updated curriculum: Education experts slam leaked Alberta curriculum proposals, or the United States intense fear of Critical Race Theory being used in the classroom: July 2, 2021 • 33:29 The Debate Over Critical Race Theory.  If the internet is evolving quickly it is because in many ways its’ anonymity and freedom circumvents the traditionalist power structures prevalent in our political lives – education is victim to traditionalist structures and we have not figured out how to step away from it. 

From the curriculum position, the only way I can see Education 3.0 working is if we accept broad provincial and federal outcomes connected to reading (not necessarily a standardized assessment) and then allow for locally developed outcomes to exist within school division and communities.  This process has its issues, but I think the fluidity of it offers opportunity for success.  

In reference to privilege, Web 3.0 privileges the same students and teachers that Web 2.0 privileged – by extension the same privileges that exist in the regular classroom without the web: those in a socio economic position where they can easily afford tech and wifi, and teachers who are willing to teach themselves or pay to be taught.  Part of me fears that the continual use of the internet, and the push to use it in newer and better ways will just deepen the divide between those who have access and those who never had access to start with.  What happens to the marginalization in the updated Education OS?

What about schools that cannot afford the devices or the internet that they require? Web 3.0 poses a threat in the form of pervasive advertising and creating a world wherein the classroom becomes a sponsored advertisement for a specific device or tool (you could argue that we’ve been doing this the whole time). Gerstein addresses my fears by suggesting that it is important for educators to have a growth mindset and to rid oneself of the defeatist attitude, and I agree with the idea that small changes begets larger systemic transformations. Gerstein writes:

“The bottom line, though, is not is what is in the best interests of the teacher, the administration, or the politicians. It is what is in the best interests of the learner.”

Gerstein (2014, p. 95)

Beautiful bottom line, and totally accurate in the micro-examination of the individual classroom and schools – but I think it fails to acknowledge that there is a system in place that reaffirms dominant discourse and hegemonic narratives. Unfortunately, my guess is that we will accept Web 3.0 on the macro level when there is certainty of dominance being maintained.

7 thoughts on “Week 3.1: The internet evolves, so too does the teacher

  1. By golly Ms. Molly, this quote: “The bottom line, though, is not is what is in the best interests of the teacher, the administration, or the politicians. It is what is in the best interests of the learner.” If only this quote you included would be adopted by the people in positions of power that create our curriculums, and mandate our learning would adopt and implement. I think when you said that Web 3.0 has the same privileged audience as Web 2.0, and those who are already disadvantaged continue to be in Web 3.0 as well. I think you also are right when you said that Web 2.0 and 3.0 “reaffirms dominant discourse and hegemonic narratives” and therefore, the same systemic influences and narratives remain in place. Your posts are always so thoughtful and leave me pondering long after I read them. I look forward to reading your next ones!

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  2. “How do you develop curriculum that is purely self-guided?” – this is a concept I really struggle with. In my own post I talked about what independent learning might look like in this 3.0, heutagogical space. But ultimately, regardless of student choice, they are still being asked to demonstrate their understanding of Saskatchewan Education outcomes. I just don’t know how you work around that, without decentralizing our educational structure. To be clear, I don’t think decentralization is a bad thing, just that it is not a realistic option. So, like you said, how can you truly allow for independent learning if we still dictate the ultimate outcome?

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    • I think the only way it is possible is if education comes to the forefront of funding – but there are far too many problems associated with that possibility. How do you retrain all teachers for that kind of planning?
      I’ve still met teachers who don’t use outcomes when they plan – they just line things up once report card time comes around. Aside from budgetary constraints, I think many of us would be resistant.

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  3. I’m hung up on the curriculum and assesment piece, as well. How does one prove their “worthiness” to attend post-secondary if learning so individualized and self-directed? There has to be fundamental changes at all levels of education. This takes a lot of time and money, and as many said in the discord tonight, we don’t exactly have a government keen to invest in education.

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  4. Interesting post, Daniel! You pose some really important questions about implementing Education 3.0 here. Can we move to “self-determined, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation, and creativity drive education” while still using the Saskatchewan outcomes? Having mostly taught elementary and middle years, I generally find the outcomes pretty flexible and feel like I can still facilitate interest-based learning while meeting outcomes. Maybe it’s not fully self-determined, but if you incorporate lots of student choice, problem-solving, collaborative group work, etc., do you think we are still moving towards Education 3.0? This is probably more challenging in high school courses where the outcomes are more specific and it’s logistically harder to do cross-curricular projects.

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    • The post-structuralist in me wants to argue that you can never achieve self-determination while you are facilitated by a structure; critical consciousness is awakened when the system dissipates, or you walk away from the system. Any choice in that system is an illusion because there is no real identity, only the systemic force of power.

      That argument is not very helpful though, so I think you are right – we are offering as much choice as we can and more importantly we are getting them ready for the Web (education) 3.0. We are teaching them how to make informed choices which will guide them in that self-determined practice. For me it sometimes feels like the outcomes come secondary to teaching critical thinking/questioning skills. If I teach them how to think critically then they will probably figure out what to do on their own.

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  5. Wow. Have you considered running for a political seat???? The way you name the systems, question them, provide critique and deep understanding while utilizing research and current events to frame your thinking was ASTOUNDING! You have a way of posing deeply important questions that all teachers and school divisions should be considering as we evolve. “Web 3.0 is an entity that embodies an evolutionary step in humanity’s stance about knowledge: it is an interconnective experience that coalesces perspectives into a deep representation of humanity – the constructivist, connectivist, and social constructivist.” This statement stopped in me my tracks. Not just because it was beautifully written, but what do we do with this evolutionary stance about knowledge?????? Because, regardless of your positions on the topics, our positions are shared in what we teach, how we teach it, what we assess and how we assess it! You should a great need to consider all at play for now, for the future and how teaching has the power to challenge dominant discourses but needs to be mindful of how they do that with every step!

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