November 15, 2021

I believe it is imperative that learner-centered leaders are always peering beyond the headlights into the future. In particular, we need to pay close attention to the technological advances occurring in society that are coming down the road toward us.

I am hesitant to use the word "technology" because it comes with a lot of baggage. All of us have a definition of technology and those definitions are laden with value judgments. Plus, think about this...the chalkboard was a revolutionary technology when it was introduced into the classroom in the 1800's. 

With all of that being said, there are changes happening in the world of technology that keep me awake at night because I am so excited about the possibility these changes can bring for our learners. Over the next three newsletters, I will discuss these changes and how they intersect to create an outstanding possibility for learner-centered leaders and the learners we work for. The first topic is web 3.0.

Web 3.0
I started to read about web 3.0 in 2011. At the time, the concept of web 3.0 was more theoretical than practical. Now, however, in 2021, the possibilities of web 3.0 have caught up with the technological capabilities.

To learn about web 3.0, let's start with the different iterations of the web.
Web 1.0 existed from about 1990-2004. In web 1.0, our interaction with the web was the equivalent of "read-only". There was little interaction for the user. Think of this web version as reading a magazine, only you did it on the web.

Web 2.0 was from 2004 to the present. In this iteration of the web, we started to interact with each other more on the web. Think of the platforms that dominate the internet right now and how they encourage this interaction. Facebook, TikTok, Google, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It is not hyperbole to say that web 2.0 ushered in a transformation in almost every aspect of society. Just think about how schools survived the pandemic...through web 2.0 tools.

Flaw of Web 2.0

There is, however, one flaw in web 2.0.  The problem comes down to one question: who owns the platforms? Companies like Facebook thrive because users (like you and me) interact on a platform they own. The value for these companies is our personal data which they can use and sell. Other than the use of the platform, the business model of web 2.0 is not beneficial to users. Sure there are influencers and companies that have thrived, and make money, but the majority of us have not.
Imagine a world where individuals can interact with each other without the need for these platforms. This is where web 3.0 comes in.

Web 3.0 is built on blockchain technology (a topic I will talk about next week). The possibilities of the blockchain open up a world of accountable, verifiable, transactions among people that will be revolutionary. You will not need a bank, Spotify, Facebook, or social media apps to act as an intermediary for your interactions and transactions.  

I will talk about decentralized organizations and the apps already running on the web 3.0 blockchain next week. in the meantime, let's remember what Clayton Christensen cautioned us about how legacy organizations incorporate innovative technologies. Legacy organizations, he wrote, try to fit the new innovations to do tasks in the old way of doing things, in effect trying to make the existing structure more efficient. For example, web 3.0 and blockchain technologies must be used for more than just securing student data in schools...this is just using the technology for an existing structure. 

We must look beyond our headlights and think of how web 3.0 will allow educators and schools to interact with the entire school ecosystem to create the best learning experiences possible. The next 20 years will see a revolution in how schools do business. Will you and your school be ready?

About the author 

Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.

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