This is an interview of EdTech Magazine with Karen Cator, first published here : What Is Web 3.0, Really, and What Does It Mean for Education? (they also interviewed other 2 professionals besides Karen Cator in this post)
Karen Cator is the director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Follow her on Twitter at @OfficeofEdTech.
EdTech: Do you anticipate major shifts in education due to the changing nature of the Internet?
Cator: The incredibly exciting thing that I see coming is a continuously improving opportunity for better and more personalized learning.
EdTech: What might that look like in the classroom?
Cator: Good teachers have always involved students in complex projects. But in the past, it’s been more difficult, with just the library down the hall and the teacher’s knowledge to guide them. As personal and continuous access to a Web 3.0 environment becomes a reality, teachers will be able to develop engaging, interesting and more complex assignments that are supported by a variety of resources. Students can understand more about, say, backyard bugs by engaging with an entomologist online, or earn a digital badge as they demonstrate advanced search techniques.
EdTech: So a key shift is that students will be more engaged participants in their learning?
Cator: Yes, engaged and enabled. For example, college hasn’t been attainable for people without the economic means or support system to get there. These new massive open online courses are in their infancy, but they ultimately could give people the opportunity to learn even if they can’t attend college. Online study groups, improving algorithms for feedback on assignments, crowd-sourced explanations and more will continuously improve these free courses.
EdTech: So more students will have access to personalized learning. What will that mean for educators?
Cator: Teachers want to see students learn and succeed. These emerging tools will augment their ability to support their students.
Data from digital environments can give teachers incredibly valuable information about how each student is learning and progressing and an array of explanations that their students can use. Teachers also will be able to seek out assistance with problems of practice as they develop their own personal and connected professional learning networks.
Students, meanwhile, will develop more independence, freeing the teacher to tutor individuals, work with small groups and design collaborative interactions that were previously difficult because of the disconnected nature of the classroom.
The teaching profession, as a whole, will improve as new kinds of data provide new information about how people learn.
Take, for example, the field of mathematics. When you create a textbook, you start with addition, then move through subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, and on through early algebra or early geometry. A book is designed to be a linear move through a course, so someone had to make decisions about what that line looks like.
With the Internet, students can begin to create personal roadmaps of their learning through mathematics, and as they progress and take different pathways, we will — looking at aggregate data across many, many learners — begin to understand much more about what kinds of pathways are helpful.
- Cator: Creating the Conditions for Participatory Learning (fora.tv)
- Education Data and Evidence Framework (from Office of Educational Technology)