Web 2.0 or
Tidal Wave 2.0?
AS I SEE “IT”
By Don Hall
Don Hall is the new
CIO for the Muscogee
County School District
in Columbus, Georgia.
He has experience in
teaching and administration and is a veteran presenter, author,
and consultant. He
serves as a volunteer
columnist for L&L.
As a chief information officer, people
naturally seem to think I love technology
and often introduce me as our district’s
“tech guy,” which always drives me crazy. First,
I really don’t like technology all that much, and
second, my background is really instruction
and professional development. The one thing I
have always prided myself in being is a lifelong
learner. I find great joy in learning new things,
which is really a helpful trait if you are going to
work in our industry.
Lately, however, I find myself in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of feeling as
though I am a stranger in a strange land, and it
is all because of this tidal wave of new technologies associated with Web 2.0. Don’t know what
I am talking about? Try these on for size: Flickr,
Twitter, Ning, Lulu, Pandora, Second Life, Tech-norati, Gnosh, and Digg. And that’s just the tip
of the iceberg.
The concept of Web 2.0 technology is by no
means new. The problem is that it’s still considered leading edge in most schools and districts.
I feel as though I am also in that camp, and I
think several factors have contributed to this
learning gulf for me:
1. The development of new tools is rapid.
2. I can’t keep pace with the need to adapt and
change my current practices.
3. The tools are moving further away from my
past experience with work and learning style.
4. I am adopting a mindset that I cannot keep
up with change.
You may identify with some of these factors.
Some are easier to accept than others. I have to
admit that I am okay with the first two; how-
ever, when I get to the last two I grow uncomfortable. Are these the characteristics of a true
learner or of someone who has given up? The
honest answer is that I do not know. As the term
“digital immigrant” implies, we did not come into
this age equipped with all the necessary skills.
We have to work harder to learn them, and that
requires intentional effort.
It seems as though we are on the cusp of a new
Industrial Age. When the Industrial Revolution
came along, the complexity of tools increased, and
that required additional skills and knowledge. You
could vary the results and output by changing the
tools in your factory. This also allowed for specialization. A type of large-scale community of workers using common tools emerged.
Now I see the emergence of a new movement
where the tools are highly personalized and allow
for extreme specialization—a strange mixture of
complexity and ease of use requiring additional
skills and knowledge to achieve proficiency.
These tools provide the capacity for linking specialists to highly collaborative communities so
they can effect change, create social networks,
and perform work. In addition, the tools open
the door to forming communities of great diversity and to sharing knowledge and expertise for
What happens to people who cannot adapt to
the new “digital factory”? They are ultimately
relegated to working in the proverbial “fields”
as subsistence laborers or beggars, living off the
kindness of society as they did in the last Industrial Revolution. That is not where we want to
find ourselves or our children. So I guess I will
continue to surf the wave. Grab your board and