Be quiet, listen to me, I know what you need…

In General on 5/9/2007 at 3:31 pm

Wow, what a gripping read from Gary Stager on the history of Logo and that of the web, and yet, how utterly disappointing that he follows it up with what is, unfortunately, best described as an absolute pile of crap.

I should redirect you at this point to a much more detailed (and considered) response from Stephen – but if you’re into name-calling and silly pictures (with poor lulz)… read on :D

And should I say, first up, that I actually don’t have any real concerns about teachers not picking up on using social software because a. they are, and b. plenty don’t need to.

Stager basically whinges about web 2.0 tools saying, looking at them in comparison with Logo.

  • The Web 2.0 tools promoted by Warlick and Utecht were not created by educators or for children. Educators hope to find educational applications despite having almost no input into the development of future tools.

LOL – Moodle, Elgg, etc. etc. However… hang on, this devalues email, and, come to think of it chairs and desks… and what’s this paper stuff! To discount a technology (even a little bit) because it has no explicit ‘educational’ input is nonsense. Besides which, the very foundations of social software, could, arguably, be placed in education.

  • The Web 2.0 tools come out of corporate, not academic, cultures with very different motives.

Listenm to me

It is hereby written that anyone who is not a non-profit or academic is without genuine value. Oh fer fricks sake this is just petty. I can promise you one thing, if these tools were being developed in academic contexts… odds are, they wouldn’t be!!!

  • There is no educational philosophy inspiring the development of the Web 2.0 tools or their use.

Absolute nonsense, ‘development’ is always hard to define but in terms of ‘use’ are you for real?

Apparently, the main issue with the above is that (to jump ahead a little)  “there is no educational theory on which the tools are designed” and “no critically acclaimed or even popular manifesto”. I might suggest that to insist on a manifesto for tools or the design of them – is almost as ridiculous as to insist on a manifesto for school buildings (OK , go on and Christopher Alexander me) – but more importantly, are we not a little beyond a manifestor driven society, are not most of our beliefs informed by far more than they once were, has not… oh sod it, here’s a picture:

Manifesto

  • Although a principle of the Web is the democratiziation of knowledge, this is an abstract concept to educators raised on textbooks and being commanded to recite from scripted lesson plans.

Hmmmm… I don’t know that many educators who do that. But talk about a nonsensical straw man, where’s this ‘democratiziation of knowledge’ come from, who’s holding this up as a fundamental principle and what on earth has it to do with pedagogy?

  • The greater Web 2.0 community has little interest in reforming education.

Actually that’s not true, they want to make a lot of money out of doing just that :) Seriously though, you complain about people being un-academic and then produce the broadest, most unjustified generalisation I’ve seen all week (and that’s saying something).

  • Web 2.0 attracts very little interest in the educational psychology or even teacher education communities.

Hahahahahahahahahaha I reckon over 50% of higher ed based educational technologists have a background in edu psychology (from my experience, more) and as for teacher ed communities… you can’t belong to that many.

  • There exists very little peer-reviewed scholarship regarding Web 2.0. In fact, many people in the blogosphere are openly contemptuous of theory and scholarship in favor of “the wisdom of crowds,” a new and popular, albeit inherently anti-intellectual world-view.

Evidently you could do with reading TWOC first, before knocking it. And there exists a massive amount of peer reviewed scholarship. And ‘openly contemptuous of theory and scholarship’ – are you for frickin’ real??? ‘Openly contemptuous’ of you, perhaps ;)

  • By definition, the Web 2.0 community is leaderless. Too often, non-equivalent opinions are given equal weight without a demand for evidence or supporting arguments.

Just out of interest, who leads the ‘education’ community? And how often are ‘non-equivalent opinions’ given weight within it :D

  • There is very little material written for educators on using Web 2.0 tools in a creative fashion. Will Richardson’s book is a fabulous resource for understanding the read/write web, but hardly offers provocative project ideas.

Ahhhh… you want some lesson plans, now I see where your earlier point is coming from.

But realistically, there is a great deal of material available – on the web surprisingly enough – on how to effectively use communication tools in PBL, TBL or any number of other ‘creative fashions’.  Perhaps your perceived ‘lack’ might be down to the fact that these tools don’t need manuals, or indeed dictate the way in which they are used in any more sense than, say, a telephone might.

  • No matter how cool, powerful or revolutionary Web 2.0 tools happen to be, there are few if any mature objects-to-think-with embedded in them and certainly no explicit statement that their use is designed to transform the learning environment.

WTF is an ‘object-to-think-with’?

  • The emphasis on information reinforces passive pedagogical practices, whether intentional or not.

Do you have the faintest idea about what social software is, about how it’s changing our dependence on information? Sorry, this makes me think you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.

  • I know I’ll get flamed for this, but the educational Web 2.0 community has little first-hand experience in social activism and scant knowledge of existing school reform literature….

not enough

Scant knowledge… bunch of dills… rather. We know nothing, never even read a book me, just on myspace most times.

Oh, I can hardly bear to go on… in fact I can’t, so I’ll finish here, except to say that that such an interesting overview of a slice of ed tech history has rarely, if ever, been followed by such a reactionary, limited and incomplete ivory-towered, condescending and ill-informed argument (if you can call it that).

Return to your Logo, your education technology as it should be – designed, lead and owned by academics and people (surprising this is!) like you dear self.

Heck, you might even fill a few more factories ;)

jobz for kidz

  1. Love the lolcats. Except, of course, they’re not lolcats – not cats. And they’re used for a different purpose.

    Hm… do they need a name? ‘loljabs’ maybe?

    At any rate, they set exactly the right tone.

  2. /golf clap

  3. Oh yeah. He went there. (American saying)

  4. sum peeps iz not amuzed

  5. Oh man.. where to even start? Has this guy even heard of people educating their own kids with the whole Internet???

    He seems like he’s closed off everything but a very narrow focus for learning. If he wants reform, he;s gonna have to tear down his own fortress walls.

  6. [...] Stephen Downes and a number of others have already said pretty much everything I would have and then some. I hope Stager follows up on [...]

  7. hi james,

    I’m angry at the abuse you have dumped on gary here. Surprised, too that someone of your experience would do this.

  8. James,

    If you haven’t come across the phrase “objects to think with” from Seymour Papert, you need to get out more. Some of us who have been active child watchers since the 1970′s championed Logo based on what we saw kids doing with it.

    No where do I start with your post…

    Well, how about this. Gary complains about the passivity of the web. The proof of the pudding is simple: You and I are able to use the web quite effectively even though the upstream communication channel is (generally) much slower than the downstream one. For most people, the Web is television with more buttons. Yes, it contains an incredible amount of value, and much of this content is even of value in education. I believe that. I also believe that children are at least as much about verbs (actions) as they are about nouns (passive information). You have a noun-centric test-driven curriculum in the US. Adding more interactivity ala “Web 2.0″ (which, let us remember, was coined as a marketing term, pure and simple) is not, by itself, a bad thing. But when you put true power in the hands of kids to, for example, build and share their own programs, then life changes.

    I don’t live in Costa Rica, so I can’t comment on all those highly-skilled workers there who are creating Intel’s future for them (Costa Rica exports more technology than bananas). But here in Brazil we are seeing highly-skilled creative work migrating from the US (e.g., from Motorola) who are paying a fortune to hire Brazilian engineers because they can’t find enough creative talent in the US. These are NOT low-wage jobs, these are high wage, high skilled jobs that our engineers are qualified to fill. Now am I going to say that our creativity here comes from the fact that many of these workers learned Logo when they were in school? Of course not. I don’t have any data on this. But, the fact remains, that Brazil is yet another country that has a positive balance of technology trade with the world, unlike the US.

    Hope a dose of factualy information doesn’t hurt your rant.

    David Thornburg, PhD
    Recife, Brazil

  9. [...] incorporated subversion » Blog Archive » Be quiet, listen to me, I know what you need…  Annotated [...]

  10. As I replied to an email Gary sent me, ‘if you publish claptrap, you should expect claptrap back’ – it’s OK to disagree with people… even to take the piss – where it’s justified.

  11. I iz very impressed wid your qualificashuns

  12. hi James,

    > it’s OK to disagree with people… even to take the piss – where it’s justified

    I don’t disagree with that as a general principle.

    But then how do you justify taking the piss out of David Thornburg when he attempts to respond to some of your points seriously?

    In your original post
    you said:
    > WTF is an ‘object-to-think-with’?

    This does display some ignorance on your part on the history of key ideas in educational computing

    you said:
    > To discount a technology (even a little bit) because it has no explicit ‘educational’ input is nonsense

    You would need to justify that statement. Papert’s ‘Mindstorms’ is an important book about technology, learning and epistemology. Shouldn’t the developmental stage of children by a factor in the development of educational technology?

    you said:
    > … talk about a nonsensical straw man, where’s this ‘democratiziation of knowledge’ come from, who’s holding this up as a fundamental principle and what on earth has it to do with pedagogy?

    What on earth are you talking about, you don’t see a connection between democracy and pedagogy?

    you said:
    > Apparently, the main issue with the above is that (to jump ahead a little) “there is no educational theory on which the tools are designed” and “no critically acclaimed or even popular manifesto”. I might suggest that to insist on a manifesto for tools or the design of them – is almost as ridiculous as to insist on a manifesto for school buildings (OK , go on and Christopher Alexander me) – but more importantly, are we not a little beyond a manifestor driven society, are not most of our beliefs informed by far more than they once were

    What are you doing here but denying the importance of theory just by picking on the use of one word (“manifesto”)?

    you said:
    > Return to your Logo, your education technology as it should be – designed, lead and owned by academics and people (surprising this is!) like you dear self

    You want to deride logo here (despite your praise in the first paragraph – some internal lack of consistency here) and you are ignorant of Gary’s educational record. Why?

    I thought your tasteless defacement of books about logo was particularly offensive. I love logo and am angry at you for deriding logo in this way. What do you actually know about it?

    I see you have left a comment at Tom Hofmann’s blog so you would be aware that other bloggers interpreted Gary’s post in a generous and thoughtful manner.

    I also read your comment on David Warlick’s blog where you say it’s ok to meet disrepect with disrespect. Well, it’s not really like that IMO.

    Here’s my take on this. IMO Gary’s original post was a mixture of good points (some insufficiently elaborated on – since web2.0 movement is in general so ignorant of any history of educational computing then it does need spelling out), counterproductive points and trivial points. Read my blog for more detail if you want it.
    http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/09/web20-spray-stager-versus-downes.html

    Your response is open derision and I don’t think the original deserved that.

  13. Bill… chill.

  14. Bill, the thing is, after the nice history of Logo, Stager went on a rant that appeared malicious and insulting.

    IMHO a bit part of the problem is that all he knows about Web 2.0 in education he has read from a few U.S. K12 bloggers – Warlick, Utect, etc.

    This has left him terribly uninformed, because these bloggers rarely link outside their own group or discuss the much wider (and much more advanced) work taking place worldwide.

    This appears to be an almost deliberate policy. I wrote a response on my Half an Hour blog that was not at all insulting to him, and he shows no sign of even having read it, nor that he ever will.

    It appears to be willful ignorance, as though he has signed some contract, not to link to or refer to people outside that same old TechLearning crowd.

    All very fine, but it leaves him in a position where – quite frankly – he deserves what he gets. You can site here and criticize Farmer because he wasn’t precise in his response – but from where I sit it’s one business (Stager & company) undercutting another’s business (Farmer’s) through inaccurate and ill-informed and misleading diatribes. And Farmer is perfectly justified in responding in kind.

    If Stager wants to question the academics and research of Web 2.0 in learning, he is welcome to. I have been doing a lot of work in the field, and I have been linking to many more people who are doing serious academic work in the field.

    Stager would never know that, reading Warlick and company, but that’s his problem.

    The point is, we have been doing serious work for many years – so far as I can judge, for as long as Stager has. And we have, over time, achieved what is almost mainstream status. When we have major companies like Blackboard saying they are launching E-Learning 2.0 initiatives, we know we have crossed that chasm.

    And if Stager and the rest looked at the work we’ve done, they’d see that it is rooted in the work of researchers like Papert and many others. I’ve discussed Papert numerous times in my blog. I have drawn a lot from him, especially with respect to the work he did with Minsky on connectionism.

    My research of course sweeps much wider than that. As does that of the oher serious academics working in our field.

    We all understand that not all practitioners in the field know all about all the research in the field. Quite frankly, there’s no particular reason why Farmer should know about ‘objects to think with’.

    That’s why serious and experienced web writers put links in their articles when they refer to specific terminology. Writing a post without links is a sign that a person is writing outside his element, that he’s writing for paper. All very fine – but perhaps not the best foundation to proclaim oneself an expert on the web.

    In any case, if you’re going to wrestle with a person about their background and research in a field, you should wrestle with the people who are dedicated academic researchers.

    This is what Stager is not doing – and for that matter, what you’re not doing either, Bill. It’s easy to attack Farmer for research he hasn’t done. Why not pick someone who has done what someone else called ‘the heavy lifting’ and take them on for what they actually say, the positions they actually hold.

    Criticizing Farmer for not knowing about ‘objects to think with’ is like criticizing me for never having managed 30,000 WPMU accounts. It’s attacking someone for not having deep knowledge in something that is outside their domain of expertise.

    I think that the critics of Web 2.0 can expect more of the same unless thy make some effort to learn.

    Web 2.0 advocates have been open and effusive in their theoretical work, their search, their best practices, and more. For example, you can, as an observer, literally watch the concept of the ‘PLE’ be assembled by the community, out there in the open.

    Attacking Web 2.0 from a basis of ignorance comes across as cheap grandstanding – the sort of thing Andrew Keen has been doing – an effort at self-promotion, an attempt to make income by creating controversy.

    Enough. People who take cheap shots should expect lolcats in return.

  15. hi stephen,

    To evaluate what is known as web2.0 rigorously requires an informed knowledge of the history of computing / educational computing going back, say, 40 years to include the work of Engelbart, Kay and others. Why do I say that? It seems to me that the work of these early pioneers has not been understood and in some important ways things have not developed a great deal since then, different pathways could have been taken, a lot of really good stuff became obscured through commercial interests, etc.

    Papert’s work and “objects to think with” is central, not peripheral, to that history. That is one way in which Stager’s post could be used as an opportunity for further useful discussion. Although you did not use Stager’s post in this way specifically that was your general approach, to use his comments to promote your position in a thoughtful manner.

    Does your comment here encourage James to do some heavy lifting of his own, to broaden his scope from a narrow web2.0 perspective, are you encouraging the view that participants of this community ought to do their own independent research? No, you seem to be saying something like “trust me, I’m the expert, I’ve done the work on Papert / Minsky”. Why do have one standard for yourself and a different standard for James?

    You criticise Stager for not linking but then mention your research about Papert and Minsky without linking to it. I’m sure you’ll provide those links and we can continue the discussion then.

  16. Another post that manages to avoid dealing with what has actually been said about Web 2.0 and learning. My website (as if you didn’t know) is http://www.downes.ca – feel free to read it and get back to me when you’re ready to discuss Web 2.0 seriously.

    As for James Farmer, I am quite certain he can choose his own objects of study, and doesn’t need me to tell him what to read. My point – quite frankly – is that I think it is very rude to just drop names and jargon on people and then slag them for not having read it.

  17. Thanx Stephen, couldn’t have put it better myself.

  18. Hey James.

    It’s easy to get caught in the ” I work for myself amd therefore I can be a tosser and get away with it” routine. Many of us are learning that RSS and pings and other automated response driven retorts are not a sufficient modality for expounding connections and dis-connections.

    I’m sure your not falling foul of the first amendment nor do you rely on the second.

    > I know I’ll get flamed for this, but the educational Web 2.0 community has little first-hand experience in social activism and scant knowledge of existing school reform literature…. Do you have the faintest idea about what social software is, about how it’s changing our dependence on information?

  19. Ah bugger it……have the full version.

    Hey James.

    It’s easy to get caught in the ” I work for myself amd therefore I can be a tosser and get away with it” routine. Many of us are learning that RSS and pings and other automated response driven retorts are not a sufficient modality for expounding connections and dis-connections.

    I’m sure your not falling foul of the first amendment nor do you rely on the second.

    - I know I’ll get flamed for this, but the educational Web 2.0 community has little first-hand experience in social activism and scant knowledge of existing school reform literature….-

    That is bullshit ….you know it and I know it but how can we tell who said what where and when and what does it actually matter ?

    - Do you have the faintest idea about what social software is, about how it’s changing our dependence on information? -

    At least , even if it’s contestable, it’s having a go.

    I came across GNU Chris in SL the other day who gave me a script for SLpedia. There’s as much rubbish in it as any other histrionic that we may call cultural memory.

    Lest we be remembered for that which we did not say. Give us some more stick. I can understand you better when your speaking from your heart and not your head.