One of the first classes in my IT program is a course entitled Education and the Web. Based on the title alone, it was the one class I was really looking forward to because the title led me to believe it would treat up-to-date tools and uses of the Web in education. How silly of me to leap to that conclusion.
My problem with the class is that I am not learning anything useful about Web tools or education-related sites. One assignment I found particularly pointless dealt with the difference between the Web and the Internet which basically required some background reading on the history of the Internet (and the Web… because it’s critical for our purposes that we get the difference). It was mildly interesting, but I didn’t advance my knowledge of how I can use the Web in education. My biggest issue so far, however, is with the journal of Web sites. I am required to collect and categorize a minimum of 50 Web sites that are useful in education, providing a link to the URL and a brief description of the site. OK, no problem. I am required to do it in Excel. Can someone please tell me why, in a course called Education and the Web, they didn’t think to ask us to use a social bookmarking service like Delicious? Delicious would enable me to collect and categorize through tagging. It also allows for providing a brief description. The URL and site name would be saved automatically. What’s more, I could share all of my sites with my classmates as we could have been required to share and subscribe to each other’s feeds. And we would be using the actual Web to learn more about Education and the Web. Instead, I’m using Excel? It reminds me of a remark Will Richardson made about presenters at NECC taking notes in Word.
This whole deal does not inspire confidence. When the one class I thought might be most useful becomes the one I’m not learning anything from, what do I do? Will my other classes similarly be at least five years behind the times? Because that’s deadly for an instructional technology program, in my opinion. I hope I get a chance to do a course evaluation. I don’t have a problem with my instructor. I’m not sure who wrote the course, but my perception is that a department of teachers all teach it at various times, so it may be that my instructor has had little input on the curriculum or it may be that my instructor created the curriculum. Therefore, I am not sure whether it would be beneficial to advocate for myself and my learning by saying something to my instructor or advisor. Some people would consider it useful constructive criticism and address the problem. Others would see it as an attack. I worry more about my classmates than I do about myself. I have a pretty decent grasp of how to use the Web effectively for education, and because I keep up with so many savvy folks, I also know about some useful tools. But what if my classmates were counting on learning the same kind of information in this class?