Is the Web Shallow or Deep?
Ilove getting lost and, as my husband can attest,
I’m quite good at it. So it was liberating to read Will
Richardson’s post in Weblogg-ed about flitting through
Here’s what I LOVE about reading on the Web, when
I get into a link flow that dances me from blog to blog,
post to connected post and comments, and after about
20 minutes of just letting myself be carried away by
the threads of conversations I land on something that
makes a small part of my brain blow up in wonder.
This is also, by the way, something that I think too
many of us fight when we read online, this idea that
if we just let ourselves get caught up in the link trip,
reading snippets here and there, scanning there and
here, that we’re not really reading deeply somehow. …
Let’s reflect for a second on that process, one that I’d bet
most teachers would dissuade their students from practicing. At every point, my decision to click was motivated by an interest for context, for moving more deeply
into the one idea in the maze of stuff that was pulling
me most at the moment. I didn’t read half of these posts
in their entirety, nor do I feel the need to go back and
do so. If I had, I most certainly would not have ended
up where I did.
I had a feeling that roaming around the Web was not
as shallow as some would like us to believe—even for
kids. For more evidence, take a look at the MacArthur
Foundation study Living and Learning with New Media:
Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The
study, released in November, found that America’s youth
respect one another’s authority online, and they are often
more motivated to learn from peers than from adults. “It
might surprise parents to learn that it is not a waste of time
for their teens to hang out online,” said Mizuko Ito, the
report’s lead author. “There are myths about kids spending
time online—that it is dangerous or making them lazy. But
we found that spending time online is essential for young
people to pick up the social and technical skills they need
to be competent citizens in the digital age.”
Marshall Kirkpatrick, in his blog Read Write Web, re-acted to the study this way:
It’s a new world for those privileged enough to have
access to the Web. The consequences of these changes
will unfold in the years to come. Do schools need to
adapt to these new
forms of learning
in order to keep
Richardson, in his
post, “New MacArthur
Study: Must Read for
Educators,” says yes.
We have to be more willing to support this type of
learning rather than prevent it, but, as always, we have
to understand it for ourselves as well.
Which prompted Shirley Smith of Chapin, South Carolina, to comment:
How do we get there? “We have to understand it for
ourselves as well” is key but the sense of urgency and
resolve needed isn’t there in critical mass. There are
days when a group of my teachers get excited about
how we can transform teaching and learning and I feel
much hope. Then there are the days when I can’t seem
to convince anyone to pay attention—regardless of the
A commenter identifed as Flint had this comment:
You know, sometimes I think that the only reason why
so many educators don’t embrace Web 2.0 is because
students got there first—figured out how to use it, and
basically took ownership of the whole Web 2.0 thing.
Lisa left this comment:
Students love to be in the role of teacher and their
peers respect them for that knowledge. Why would
learning in Web 2.0 be different? Peers assisting peers
is good pedagogy, regardless of the medium, and I
don’t need the MacArthur Foundation to tell me that.
And you don’t need to be a teenager to be motivated to
learn from your peers on the Web.
Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the
Digital Youth Project (2008). MacArthur Foundation.
Read Write Web, Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Blog. Casual Internet Use Is Good
for Kids (November 20, 2008). www.readwriteweb.com/archives.
Weblogg-ed, Will Richardson’s blog. New MacArthur Study: Must Read
for Educators (November 20, 2008). http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/
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