Four Essential Questions That Need Answers

Like many, I am intrigued by the promise and potential that integrating Web 2.0 tools provides for learners, both students and teachers. I know that in many instances, that I leading the charge full bore down that path because I believe that it is imperative that we provide experiences for our students to begin to construct their learning environments using these new collaborative tools.

But as we delve further and further down the path, there are three questions that need to be answered before completely committing to these tools.

1. Who owns the data

I will admit that I do not read the terms and agreements of the new tools that I am experimenting with. If I create something, do I retain some kind of ownership of the idea? Are my ideas protected by Creative Commons or am I giving my intellectual property away?

One of the challenges for us in education is to teach all of our learners, faculty and students, how to use the best tool for them to communicate their message, so that it can rise above the rest of the “white noise” of information that surrounds us and is growing daily. But we also want our learners to be able to retain ownership of their ideas, for that alone may be what defines them. No one should be able to co-opt an idea. Enhance it, synthesize it to create a better idea, but the kernel should remain.

2. Who owns the curriculum

One of the questions as teachers begin to modify and create new curricula to meet the needs and demands of the students is who owns it? Is it the school or the individual. In business, the answer used to be crystal clear, it was the business that had ownership of new ideas, especially if an individual left. This may become a bigger issue, especially if the teacher shortage that continues to be forecast in the next seven to ten years occurs and the demands for the excellent teacher who is getting results with the new tools.

3. Who owns the experience?

If the face to face classroom experience is what differentiates the experience, who owns the experience. Prestigious universities such as MIT, Stanford, and Cal-Berekley making the experience, by posting podcasts and videocasts of courses freely available. As schools begin to use the tools and share the classroom experiences, who owns the content, the school, or the creator of the content, the teacher?

4. What will draw students to your physical learning space and environment?

With the whole of knowledge is being made digitally available, what will bring students to your physical space? Or how will your school be defined, by physical location, by time, by content?

I do not profess to have any answers, only questions. I do feel that these questions will help define what we mean by School 2.0 or beyond and am actively trying to synthesize my answers.

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3 thoughts on “Four Essential Questions That Need Answers

  1. Great questions. The problem I have with the questions is that people keep asking them in a way that suggests that there is a “yes” or “no” answer. And the answer is always “it is my intellectual property, so no, you can’t have it.” And, that is always the end of the answer, especially in regards to people in the university realm. In response to your first question about intellectual property and the idea kernel. Seems to me that if the idea kernel needs to remain with the originator, that this is in conflict with Web 2.0 ideals. I think that if people are concerned about their “intellectual property” that it needs to be published in print form. Otherwise, it should be considered as shared knowledge. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the originator should be credited with the original idea. However, in this world, how many of us really have original ideas? Most of our ideas in education are the sum total of what we have read or learned from others. When I was the library media teacher at a school ( that implemented a laptop program, I wrote step by step guides for teachers to use with students. Since I wrote them on “school” time, I always felt they belonged to the school and therefore were free to all. As I have overseen the development of online courses (, the same applied – we paid teachers to develop courses, so they belong to the school district, and therefore, are free to share.

    I am now the project director of a Teaching American History grant ( and everything a professor shares or a teacher develops should be free to share because it is funded through a federal grant. Some grant participants don’t agree with this perspective.

    It just seems to me that either we share or we don’t…so, I guess there is a “yes” or “no” answer… if we want to share what we are learning via blogs or podcasts or social networking sites, the answer is “yes”, all that is shared through this medium should belong to all of us, with proper credit given to the person or place where the idea came from.

    P.S. I enjoyed your NECC podcast via Educational Bridges Network, 21st Century Learning!

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