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Education 1.0, 2.0, 3.0- Where are we? Where do we need to be?

Most of us are aware how quickly digital information technology has been evolving. In personally adopting these technologies, there tends to be three broad entry points. Those of us that like to “geek out,” get our hands on and learn to use these new technologies as soon as possible. Others wait and see how the device or application becomes successful and useful among their network of friends and colleagues before jumping in to use it. The rest may never attempt to use a new technology, or they wait (or don’t even hear about it in some cases) until it’s fully in the mainstream. I think Twitter, as a fantastic Web 2.0 application, has been a great example of this generalized adoption process. It also happened very quickly. From a new application in 2006 to being a mainstream social networking tool in 2009 only took three short years.

Over the last 7 years or so, “version” labels have been added to help make sense of major changes and evolutions in society and technology. For example, in The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman laid out the differences between Globalization version 1.0, Globalization 2.0, and Globalization 3.0 (the third edition of his book is referred to as “Release 3.0“). Based off of this, some thinkers are even speculating Globalization 4.0. Maybe a little more popular in its “versions” is the Web. First, of course, was Web 1.0; we are now amid a dynamic Web 2.0, and Web 3.0 is hot on the heels of Web 2.0 and is already accessible some ways in its early stages.

Education is also going through an evolution process. The pace of change and adoption of new, transformational learning frameworks, however, is definitely not as fast as that with digital information technologies. Despite the slow pace of change, “version” labels are being tacked on in order to help understand the stages of evolution in education. Like the other version labels described above, the labels for education show where it’s been and where we need to be with it. Not surprisingly, two of the three versions actually still lay ahead of us! In some recent blog posts, the organization Education Futures gives some nice overviews on these versions of education, with a particular focus on Education 3.0. I’m not going to summarize them here. The posts aren’t long and are well written, so take a look:

After reading these posts, the issue in my mind is this: the process of moving from Education 1.0 to Education 2.0 has been very slow in many places. If there were a continuum between 1.0 and 2.0 written in increments of .1 (i.e. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on to 1.9, 2.0), my perception (and that is of all-in-one k-12 international schools since that is where my career has been for the last nine years) would be that most schools are between 1.3 – 1.6 in evolving toward the 2.0 model. Some people might consider this rating generous.

With the rate of change in all other aspects of society happening so quickly, it seems the adoption of and evolution toward the 2.0 model should be moving a lot faster. Since it’s not in most levels of education (at least at the high school level, which is where I teach), should we skip some aspects of Education 2.0 and start looking to create the environments for Education 3.0, doing the “leapfrogging” the first post describes above? If we were to wait for our school’s to go step by step toward Education 2.0 then toward Education 3.0, it might be too late. Considering the slow pace of change that has plagued education, that could take up to 20 years or more! In this case, I don’t think educators and schools can wait until the necessary educational framework is in the mainstream in order to adopt it. By then, the world and technology will have zoomed so far ahead that schools as we know it would likely be irrelevant.

I think we need to moving toward this 3.0 model sooner rather later. The question is, however: what do we need to do to release the ball and chain that unfortunately keeps education from moving forward more quickly?

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