Preparing Students for a Web 2.0 World – Learning from the Business World

I subscribe to ClickZ, a newsletter that focuses on online marketing. Today there was an interesting article on social media – from a marketing perspective. Social Media and Web 2.0 by Jason Burby.

This article starts off with a fascinating statistic: “93% of Web Sites to add Web 2.0 functionality in 2008.”
So if we as educators are thinking about preparing students for their careers in their future, clearly their future will require insight into how to effectively work within the Web 2.0 environment.

The author noted further”

“Other numbers we can point to indicate a much more interesting change is happening, and there’s a meaningful way we can talk about Web 2.0. For me, it’s summed up in a word: “participation.” The technology is fundamentally the same, which isn’t to say it hasn’t evolved. But there’s been a real shift in the expectations of Internet users — a shift that’s accelerated dramatically in the past two years.

What does this really mean? I asked Ryan Turner, a colleague, social media expert, and blogger, for his take on where all of this is going, and what companies may be risking in their effort to jump on the bandwagon.

“The real change businesses are facing is moving from a broadcast model for the Web to a participatory, relational model, where the Web is a true business channel,” Turner said. “And the shift has huge business impacts that require a rethinking of Web channel strategy, planning, and management. It requires new skill sets (like online community moderation), and new contributions from roles traditionally focused on other channels (like technical support and customer service).”

Hmm. Doesn’t this sound a lot like what we need to be doing in our schools and classrooms? Rethinking strategy, planning, and management. Creating new skill sets and new contributions.

The scary thing is the timing. Note the mention of the shift that has accelerated dramatically in the last two years. School systems have never been known to be very comfortable in dealing with rapid change.

But look at what the marketing expert has to offer as concerns:

Turner shared some of the common pitfalls companies experience when shifting the way in which they communicate with customers and prospects:

  • A tool-centric approach. It’s just so tempting to want to “build community around the brand” using one of the suite of over-hyped tools available today. … None of these is really community. The social Web is comprised of people, relationships among people, and the things people create and share. Marketers must think strategically about their offerings, not be swayed by the purveyors of technology “solutions.”
Same concern in education. Sure we need to figure out how to establish a safe educational Web 2.0 environment, but the technologies are not the”game plan.” We need to know how to manage the use of these technologies responsible – and most importantly, teachers need to know how to assist students in creating and sharing. Or perhaps, teachers need to get out of the way and allow their students to do so.
  • Failure to plan for ongoing engagement.

Hmm. Sort of like building a school network and forgetting the need for effective support, professional development, and curriculum modification.

  • Doing it for the sake of doing it.
I do believe this is a concern educators must pay attention to. Educators must avoid jumping into Web 2.0 learning projects without careful planning related to educational objectives. I have heard of teachers simply setting up networks on MySpace with no real educational objective in mind and clearly no concept of the potential concerns.
  • Failing to measure. There’s always the need to accurately define what success looks like and determine the best way to measure that success. And a corollary to that: misunderstanding how to measure.

Bingo! What will success look like and how will we measure this. Accountability is a key.

In all, this article contains some very helpful insight. I think we can learn from the marketing community – and likely also have some insight to share as we go along this path.

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One response to “Preparing Students for a Web 2.0 World – Learning from the Business World

  1. I think that we should have new skill sets because it seems like the same thing happens every 6th grade year

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