I am feeling a bit dizzy after watching an Elluminate session with Howard Rheingold. (can’t say I participated as it was too fast with over 100 participants typing continuously into the chat) The subject was ‘Critical thinking’ and Howard set off the session by browsing quickly through a long list of hoax or bogus websites. It is fascinating how so many people have spent valuable time creating these sites – it makes me wonder why?? Anyway, the discussion then moved on to how internet consumers of all ages need to be critical users of the information. Howard drew an interesting analogy which I paraphrase. There are crazy drivers out there – so we take young people out and teach them to drive amongst the crazy drivers but with guidance. There are crazy websites out there – so we should take students out to the internet and teach them. This was in reference to the tendency by some school districts to block sites rather than teach children to critically filter for themselves.
Then, an interesting question came from a participant Colin Graham – Do we put too much trust in the written word? I love this question as it raises the issue of how the written word has changed its’ nature since the internet arrived. Printed text, whilst not always totally reliable, had often gone through many editing processes – factual verification as well as grammatical. Internet text does not, and so I wonder that maybe we do place too much trust in the written word and that once again highlights that need for critical literacy.
Favourite quotes from an hour with Howard Rheingold
“It is scary to be critical”
“Teachers ought to be the ‘Expert Learners’ in the classroom not the ‘experts’”
Interestingly, Howard modelled his own theory that the teachers should be the ‘expert learner’, by throwing questions to the group that he felt others could answer better than he could.
The subject matter was greater than an hour session can cover, but it was interesting viewing and worth a view if you have the time. There are great links in the chat including some interesting activities that help develop questioning skills.