Educators getting started with using wikis and blogs and other Web 2.0 software as tools for learning need to develop a structural understanding of the different potential forms of collaboration and interaction. But some of the models used as references for such educational use come from other contexts, and are unlikely to be sufficient as models for designing effective learning and teaching.
For example, an Open University blog refers to the ladder of participation, a model developed by Forrester Research. The participation ladder categorises consumers according to their level of active participation with online social networking tools.
I don’t find the ladder metaphor and the categorisation particularly helpful for educators, because:
- The ladder metaphor suggests both a hierarchy of behaviours and progression up the ladder, whereas in a learning context such behaviours are complementary and equally important.
- Categorising learners in the same way marketers categorise consumers is not productive: learners are not a market to reach and exploit but autonomous individuals who dynamically use a range of behaviours depending on the context
I’m not intending to suggest that the ladder is not a really valuable tool for marketers, or that education cannot learn from and apply models developed in a business context. Indeed, the ladder does provide a valuable insight into the diversity of learners in terms of the use of such tools.
But to help educators develop effective strategies for applying Web 2.0 tools, we need models which build on models such as the ladder and better reflect the educational context. In particular, we need models which:
- Reflect the values and ethos of the education sector, with learners as autonomous individuals
- Provide a means to analyse the dynamic and diverse nature of learning and teaching interactions
Until we develop such models, the application of Web 2.0 tools for learning is likely to be hit and miss.