Technology revolution or evolution?

Today Penn State put on its annual Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology. I  presented along with our Associate Dean and some students about our blogging initiative. A lot of very interesting conversations occurred at the symposium. On one blog was a continuation of thoughts spurred by Cole Camplese’s recent paper and interview, I made some comments about the use of twitter in the classroom (and congregation) earlier this week. Stevie Rocco reflected on Web 2.0 as a revolution and “scholarship” in her blog Teachnology:

After reading Cole’s most recent post, I went back and read the one prior to it for context. Taken together, I think they both make some really important points. The first post discussed his attendance at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Tech Forum, and the second was a further reflection on that experience. I remember being rather angry at (and dismissive of, I’ll admit) a lot of the comments that followed the Chronicle article that was written about Cole’s presentation, which was entitled “Web 2.0 Classrooms Versus Learning.”

I honestly think that a lot of folks in the academy are just plain scared of what’s coming. It IS a revolution, and when people say that Web 2.0 is not scholarship, or that it’s fluffy, or even that it’s irresponsible, I see that as a form of fear. The old stuff is starting to look broken, and we haven’t yet figured out what systems and institutions will replace it. Or even if they will be replaced.

My brother responded to some of Stevie’s comments that Professors are like the scribes replaced  by the printing press. I responded to Stevie’s post within the comments but I thought I would share some of my thoughts here as well. The suggestion that some were arguing that Web 2.0 is “not scholarship” is misguided. Web 2.0 is, of course not scholarship. It is a merely a tool, or really a set of tools. It/they can be used to create scholarship but it in and of itself is not research or academic study.

At the Symposium there were many of the technology folks who spoke of “the revolution” and that faculty did not understand what was coming. I think many would be surprised, however, as to how many faculty, even in the humanities (my own area and a faculty often thought to be slow adopters of anything new), are looking to and embracing new technologies to pursue and improve research, investigation, and instruction.

Finally, might I suggest that this not a revolution but evolution? The changes are quick, but they are slower than they might appear. Also they are not nearly as radical as many suggest. Web 2.0 is, after all, merely an extension and adaptation of text, images, sounds, methods, etc. Is it different? Yes, but it is still recognizable as a means of conveying sharing information, not too dissimilar from books and journals with responses.

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