Piaget and Web 2.0

I was prepping for a workshop on using Moodle here on campus yesterday. To give some background on social constructivism (which is the pedagogical starting place for Moodle), I had to go back to Jean Piaget.

Piaget was was a Swiss natural scientist and developmental psychologist. He is best known for his studies of cognitive development in children. He was a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva from 1929 to 1975.

Overly simplified, he reorganized cognitive development theory into four levels/stages (infancy, pre-school, childhood, and adolescence) and discussed the types of learning that is appropriate during those stages and how children construct knowledge. (Those of you with kids at home should do a little Googling and reading about his work.)

When I was an undergraduate education major, and when I was teaching in the K12 world, Piaget was frequently referenced.

He transformed much theory and practice, particularly in the direction of "student-centered" learning. You still hear educators talking about trying to get to that place after all these decades.

So where is the Web 2.0 connection? Certainly Jean Piaget had no connection to the Net and I'm not sure he wrote anything about the impact of computers on development. But I came across this quote in my little research:

"Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society... but for me and no one else, education means making creators... You have to make inventors, innovators—not conformists."

(Conversations with Jean Piaget, Bringuier, 1980, p.132)

That sounds a lot like the chatter about Web 2.0 and the read/write web.

Piaget's influence may not be felt as strongly today as it was in the 1970's. Perhaps, as one commentator has said, that is because his model of the child's development implied a far more radical transformation of the education system than is acceptable.

Still watching TV?

Did you notice that this summer we had the least-watched week in TV history for the four biggest broadcast networks?

Back in the first week of July, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox averaged 20.8 million viewers during prime-time, according to Nielsen Media Research.


Obvious stuff - holiday, nice weather sends us outside (thank goodness that is still true!), too many reruns on. But that's been true for a long time.

OK, add in all those cable channels & satellite channels, and video/DVD rentals. Yes, but also pretty old news.

So what is it? It's all the other media sources. It's watching video on the Net (YouTube & such), just surfing the Net (MySpace, Googling everything that interests us), mp3 downloads of music (and more video including some of those TV shows we are not "watching" for the Neilsen ratings). This is not news to many of us who are following this trend. I wrote about some of these reasons on Serendipity 35 before and I'll write about new ones in the upcoming months I'm sure.

The answer to the question of my title - Are you still watching TV? - really depends on who you are. If you are 35+ years old, there's a good chance you are still watching good old TV. Advertisers are going to start to target you more. The younger you are, the more likely it is that you are watching something other than trad TV.

Here's what was on top of the list that week - were you watching?
Were your students watching? If not, what were they doing and how can you reach them?

For the week of July 3-9, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships:

  1. "America's Got Talent," NBC, 12.03 million;
  2. "So You Think You Can Dance" (Wednesday), Fox, 9.78 million;
  3. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (Thursday, 10 p.m.), CBS, 9.7 million;
  4. "60 Minutes," CBS, 9.11 million;
  5. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," NBC, 8.86 million;
  6. "So You Think You Can Dance" (Thursday), Fox, 8.85 million;
  7. "Cold Case," CBS, 8.82 million;
  8. "CSI: Miami," CBS, 8.66 million;
  9. "CSI: Miami," (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.), CBS, 8.22 million;
  10. "Law & Order," NBC, 8.16 million.

College Blogs

I've been looking into blogs by college students the past few weeks as research before I recommend (or not) that NJIT include sponsored student blogs on its website. This is becoming a fairly common recruiting tool to enable potential students to get student perspectives into life on campus.

There are several good entries by my online friend Karine Joly on her blog about this topic and they led me to look at several student blogs. (Also look at her piece in College Business - "License to Recruit")

For me there is one prominent consideration for a college heading down this path. Do you want to sponsor and control/edit the blogger's entries, or just select students and let them blog what they will?


Some of these blogs seem too sporadic to be "true" blogs. Some seem polished to the point of seeming phony and I wonder if they will work for or against college admissions. I think if you look at them you will see a difference between the officially sponsored blogs and the ones students have done on their own. My prejudice for the latter is apparent, but I understand the fear by a university of just letting students go at it.

As with MySpace, YouTube and other sites, blogs will emerge from your school's students whether you sponsor them or not. My feeling is that schools should encourage blogs on their "official" site, select capable student writers. and allow them to be themselves.

Brock Read's Wired Campus blog at The Chronicle brought my attention to another aspect of college blogging that I hadn't considered.

She wonders why students who so love Facebook & IMs haven't taken as much to blogging. She referenced a blog by Erica Strauss at Associated Content where Erica wonders why she can't find "blogs about late-night ramen noodle cram fests and freaking out (not to mention breaking out!) over finals?” The blogs she links to (aimed at women) seem to me far too slick. College Candy is supposedly written by a guy ("Ryan") though it is aimed at women. It's a mostly sex advice blog and it is sponsored by The College Wardrobe seems to be set up to sell products. I don't think any college would want to endorse these blogs as their own.

Brock then asks readers to list their own student blog. I checked the links this past weekend and found a few interesting ones which I included in the list above.

I know that some corporate bigwigs (CEOs & such) have tried blogging and I know that at least one of these bloggers was outed as it turned out that his blog was ghostwritten by someone else at the company.

I wondered if there were any college presidents who were blogging about their school? Here are three I found:

  • Wenatchee Valley College President Jim Richardson
  • Colorado College President Dick Celeste (listed as "a glimpse a day in the life of our governor/ambassador-turned college president.
  • Robert L. Caret has a blog from Towson University.
Who is the audience for these blogs? Current students, potential students, the general public, other college presidents?

Google versus Microsoft

Google’s new Notebook application
has been compared by some to Microsoft's OneNote for use on the web. I never found OneNote useful, so I stopped using it. Should I use Notebook?

It lets you take text from a webpage and create an electronic notebook. Then you can annotate entries by editing them or adding an additional note below the entry. It includes a link back to your text source.

You can create sections and you can rearrange them on the screen by simply drag/drop (I assume it uses AJAX.) and add headings. It's all printable. If you make your notebook "public" then it can be searched for with other public notebooks.

Google takes another shot at Microsoft by releasing a Web-based spreadsheet program that may at some point compete with Excel. Well, "compete" my be the wrong word - does it compete if Google's is free?

Plus, like Notebook, it's an online application so it's easy to edit and share lists and data online. Uncleverly called Google Spreadsheets, the app can read and create files in the format used by Excel.

Back in February I wrote here about the free online, collaborative word processor called Writely which was purchased by Google a month later.

What's next from Google Labs? Will they create their own versions of PowerPoint and Access?

And you thought Google was all about search - maybe it's search & destroy.



A month away - September 22 - time to celebrate the first OneWebDay. A day for everyone around the physical globe to celebrate the virtual world on the Web.  Earth Day for the Internet.

Check out the OneWebDay wiki. 

There will be actual meetups - in NYC it's at Bryant Park - all hoping to make the virtual world visible.