As we look at 21st century skills in education, there is a lot of emphasis on making sure students are utilizing webtools and concepts. Approaches to content creation like blogging, digital storytelling, and content remixing are being merged with collaboration and organization of that content through social media services like Facebook, YouTube, Diigo, wikis, and many others. But why are we emphasizing this in education? I believe it comes down to two good reasons.
1. These tools make if possible for self expression and learning from other’s unfathomably more efficient than without them.
I know it sounds strange to say that the internet is efficient. I have watched it become the biggest distraction to my productivity. However, if I control my urge to look further, and focus on what I am trying to accomplish, I can achieve what would have taken many trips to the library, a spiral notebook, a pack of index cards, and a lot more focus than I need on the interent to complete.
To me, this advantage alone makes webtools invaluable. The only way someone truly learns and retains a concept is to make it their own. Apply it to their lives. Reflect on it and demonstrate how it is of value to them. Webtools make this possible and allow the learner other dimensions of freedom to explore and interact with content.
2. There is an economy building out of webtools and internet marketing.
I’m undecided on if all students will really need to be bloggers, tweeters, and web content creators in the workforce of tomorrow. It sounds a lot like the myth at all students need to go to college. What I do believe is that all successful businesses will need these skills in their workforce. Having a web presence that is promoted and curated by creative people is already an identified need by most businesses. The skills of creating content and then organizing it on the internet are already identified by businesses as their product (content) and what is referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The content aspect is mostly manifest as reviews and crowd sourcing. Businesses are already paying people to give reviews on their products. Check out Sites that Pay You to Blog:
There is even more of an economy in the organizing and sharing of content. Consider what links you go to when you do a Google search. Any business will realize that being at the top of that search gets them the most traffic. The concept of link building for traffic generation is about the SEO (Search Engine Optimization). “If you want any organic (READ: free and targeted) traffic from search engines, you pretty much HAVE TO learn how to do link building. Your other option is to outsource the task.” -Ana Hoffman Traffic Generation Cafe
And that outsourcing is going to be done, we hope, with the students we are teaching today.