Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BLC '06 Will Richardson

Just got done listening to Will Richardson speaking on Web 2.0 and how it is affecting reading and writing. My beef with the people I've been to see so far is that they weren't saying anything that was totally new to me. There were no new ideas. There was some tweekage, but there were no band-spankin'-new ideas.
Then there was Will.
Again, Will didn't say anything that was totally new, but he said things that got me thinking. He also seemed to want to have a conversation with us; though, he didn't really ask us to speak until the end of things.
His point was that there are new ways of reading and writing.
I remember one of the first courses I took at ISU spoke of teaching students and living in a hypertextual society. Only seven years ago and it now looks like such a simplistic statement. The point the original statement was meant to make was that teens, and the tail-end of my generation have grown up surrounded by information input and are equipped with natural filters. While I still believe this to be true, I'm also brought to the realization that the filters can operate in reverse. Many of my students filter out the thoughts that occur naturally in many adult minds and, instead, allow in the barrage of images and information without questioning validity or perspective.
The danger is obvious.
I felt a bit weird asking Will why he wrote a book when one of his comments was that "as soon as textbooks are written, they are out of date." The same must be true for any work of non-fiction. His answer was one that garnered my respect. He'd considered this, and said there was no real reason other than his book had aggregated the information it contained in a linear context with which the standard reader is already familiar. I also appreciated the fact he had brought up the idea of publishing the book for free on the Internet. I can only imagine the publisher's response.
One piece I would like to see highlighted in more detail during the conference is the accessibility the Internet affords. Alan touched on it briefly when he came to speak in Sarasota, cautioning us that we weren't really doing anything new with the resources we have, just differently. It's a good point. That, I suppose, will have to be the challenge of the year to come.
I'm sure taking my classroom paperless will be a built-in driver. Part of me wonders why I would want to create what promises to be a bit of a headache. Still, this has to be the way education is heading. It's the responsible way. I need more models though.
Nice to have a session that makes me think. I sadistically wouldn't mind someone I didn't agree with. Now that the brain's moving, I'm in a bit of a mood for an academic argument.

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