Recently, Karen Kliegman (Library Media/Technology Specialist) and I were discussing our joint research program and some of the web 2.0 tools we have been using over the past year. As excited as we were over the free access to incredible collaborative/expressionary tools, we also began to see how the "free" access to these tools may soon change. As these tools become more popular, we fear that they will become fee-based and accessibility will then be limited to those who can pay. We've seen it happen with sites like United Streaming or Brain Pop. These once free sites are now charging for services that are beneficial and support learning. I've read how open source/freeware programs can level the playing field between districts of different socio-economic levels, no matter if budgets are tight or endless. If the popularity of web 2.0 tools increases, will the desire to charge for access increase?
In the article "Which Technologies Will Shape Education in 2008?"
by Dave Nagel, (Dave Nagel, "Which Technologies Will Shape Education in 2008?," T.H.E. Journal, 2/4/2008, http://www.thejournal.com/articles/21972) he states that there are 6 technologies are or will impact the learning community. Those 6 technologies are divided into time periods in which they will be present: the near term, mid term and down the road.
The near term technologies, such as grassroots video and collaborative Web Technologies have made expression and endless possibility. Right now, one is only limited by their imagination. Mid term technologies such as mobile broadband and mashups allow for easy access to web based technology and an integration of tools to create something that never existed. Down the road technologies, like collective intelligences and social operating systems, have yet to be developed, but their future seems promising.
My questions over accessibilty still overshadow the excitement of embrascing these new technologies. While we have it at our fingertips, we should use it to the best of its abilities when it is educationally and philosophically beneficial to our students. But for how long will it be available to all?