User Generated Education

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Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education

with 12 comments

What follows is my Ignite talk for ISTE 2013.  It was rejected by the selection committee.  As I already conceptualized the talk and think it is such an important topic, I am disseminating my text and slides via my blog and Slideshare.  First, Education 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 are described.  Later, I discuss the consequences of Education 1.0 vs Education 3.0 on learners (and educators!) especially those that do not fit the mold of Education 1.0.


Education 1.0 can be likened to Web 1.0 where there is a one-way dissemination of knowledge from teacher to student.  It is a type of essentialist, behaviorist education based on the three Rs – receiving by listening to the teacher; responding by taking notes, studying text, and doing worksheets; and regurgitating by taking standardized tests which in reality is all students taking the same test. Learners are seen as receptacles of that knowledge and as receptacles, they have no unique characteristics.  All are viewed as the same.  It is a standardized/one-size-fits-all education.


Derek W. Keats and J. Philipp Schmidt provide an excellent comparison of how Education 1.0 is similar to Web 1.0.

Education 1.0 is, like the first generation of the Web, a largely one-way process. Students go to school to get education from teachers, who supply them with information in the form of a stand up routine that may include the use of class notes, handouts, textbooks, videos, and in recent times the World Wide Web. Students are largely consumers of information resources that are delivered to them, and although they may engage in activities based around those resources, those activities are for the most part undertaken in isolation or in isolated local groups. Rarely do the results of those activities contribute back to the information resources that students consume in carrying them out. (


Similar to Web 2.0, Education 2.0 includes more interaction between the teacher and student; student to student; and student to content/expert.  Education 2.0, like Web 2.0, permits interactivity between the content and users, and between users themselves.  Education 2.0 has progressive roots where the human element is important to learning.  The teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships are considered as part of the learning process.  It focuses on the three Cs – communicating, contributing, and collaborating.


Some school administrators and educators seem to have taken steps and moved into a more connected, creative Education 2.0 through using project-based and inquiry learning, cooperative learning, global learning projects, Skype in the classroom, and shared wikis, blogs and other social networking in the classroom.  But in 2013, this should be the norm not the exception.


Education 3.0 is based on the belief that content is freely and readily available as is characteristic of Web 3.0. It is self-directed, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education. Education 3.0 is also about the three Cs but a different set – connectors, creators, constructivists.  These are qualitatively different than the three Cs of Education 2.0.  Now they are nouns which translates into the art of being a self-directed learner rather than doing learning as facilitated by the educator.


Education 3.0 is characterized by educational opportunities where the learners themselves play a key role as creators of knowledge artifacts that are shared, and where social networking and social benefits play a strong role. The distinction between artifacts, people and process becomes blurred, as do distinctions of space and time. Institutional arrangements, including policies and strategies, change to meet the challenges of opportunities presented. There is an emphasis on learning and teaching processes with the breakdown of boundaries (between teachers and students, institutions, and disciplines (


Education 3.0 is a constructivist, heutagogical approach to teaching and learning.  The teachers, learners, networks, connections, media, resources, tools create a a unique entity that has the potential to meet individual learners’, educators’, and even societal needs.  Education 3.0 recognizes that each educator’s and student’s journey is unique, personalized, and self-determined.


So given that the that the time is ripe for Education 3.0, that we are in a perfect storm of free and available online resources, tools for creating and sharing information, and networking opportunities, what is stopping administrators and educators from implementing an Education 3.0 . . . at least some of the time?  Some of the reasons educators profess include: “I don’t have enough time.”, “I don’t have enough resources.”, “I need more training.”, “I need to teach using the textbook.” ,”I need to teach to the test.”, “I might lose control of the class.”, “I have always successful taught this way.”


These are the symptoms of Education 1.0. Many educators feel forced into this paradigm of teaching with dire consequences to both their and their students attitudes toward education.  But these are external obstacles whereby most of blame for resisting change is placed outside of educator responsibility. The result is a fixed mindset of learned helplessness, “I cannot change because the system won’t let me change.”  Sometimes educators are creating some obstacles for themselves that in reality don’t exist. “Talking them into” or insisting on specific changes often creates more and stronger walls of resistance.


A mental shift occurs when a fixed mindset which often leads to learned helplessness is changed to a growth and positive mindset, believing that there are options; that one can grow, change, and be significant.  It becomes focusing on what can work rather than what is not working.  This is not to devalue the obstacles that teachers face. It becomes about noting where change is possible and making some small changes in teaching.  Small changes often result in larger, more systemic change.


The bottom line, though, is not is what is in the best interests of the teacher, the administration, the politicians.  It is what is in the best interests of the learner.  The student should be central to education – not the content, not the tests, not the standards, not what we think students should know and do.  Teachers did not become teachers to teach to the test, to develop practice tests or worksheets, to work with pre-scripted curriculum to meet standards.  Teachers became teachers to teach students, first and foremost.  The learner needs to be central to all teaching endeavors.


So what are the consequences of a standards-driven Education 1.0 on the learner?  Education 1.0 for many students results boredom, a wasting away of their time and sometimes their minds.  But there are bigger consequences than boredom. There are especially dire consequences for learners with oddly shaped minds.  This is not meant to be derogatory.  It just means that they see, think, hear, visualize, imagine the world a little differently than others.


In a system of Education 1.0, they are often seen as irregularly shaped pegs.  The system doesn’t like oddly shaped pegs as oddly shaped pegs don’t adapt well to standardized.  They don’t fit into any type of round or even square holes.  Way too often, they system attempts to whittle away at them trying to get them to fit.  The system whittles and whittles away at them until nothing may be left.


I am a lifelong survivor, seeking continual recovery from Education 1.0.  I was different, that oddly shaped peg.  Because I called out answers, questioned the content I was learning, spoke to classmates when something interested me, didn’t want to take multiple choice tests; I was yelled at, punished, kicked out of class, physically hit, embarrassed in front of peers.  The damage done to me has left an indelible, lifelong legacy that I am odd, weird, not good enough.


Education should, at least, have the same standards as the medical field, “First, do no harm.”  This is the minimal standard that should be practiced.  Optimally, it should be about providing an individualized, personalized, engaging, passion-driven education that is characterized by an Education 3.0.  This is ethically the right thing to do.


I put every kind of metaphor I could think of on this slide.  Educators should assist students in catching dreams; finding their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, being on cloud nine, reaching the top of the peak.  What kind of educator do you want to be?  A whittler or a dream-facilitator?  You have a choice.  You really do.


Do you want a student of yours in the future to stand on a stage like this and talk about the damage done to him or her due to your behavior or do you want him or her to talk about your being the teacher who made a difference?  What type of legacy do you want to leave in the world?


Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm

12 Responses

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  1. Brilliant Jackie! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Fabulous post/presentation, Jackie. One of the best I’ve read, in fact. You clearly articulate the absolute need to shift our notions of learning, teaching and education. Thank you!


    June 10, 2013 at 1:34 am

    • Thank you so much. I appreciate the feedback.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      June 10, 2013 at 1:36 am

  3. Dear Jackie

    In my work in education for over 30 years I see the painful consequences of adults who have been damaged by an education system that holds onto simplistic systems at the cost of humanity.

    Your presentation is clear, reasoned and one that I will recommend to others.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Best wishes


  4. I especially like the Fixed Mindset – Learned Helplessness slide and connecting teacher-led instructional improvement to a Growth Mindset. Dweck’s early work was inspired by Seligman’s thinking, and teachers working together is great for growth! Thanks!

    Dave Shearon

    June 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm

  5. Thank you Jackie for sharing your information. This is year 40 for me as a teacher so I have witnessed the beginning. What we think should be the norm runs several years behind the real.

    Gay Grissom

    June 18, 2013 at 4:07 am

  6. Thank you for this remarkable presentation. Unfortunately for conference attendees, many excellent presentations and insights get bypassed and we all lose the benefit. I will also recommend your blog to others and share the knowledge you have so expertly disseminated here. Thanks again.


    June 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm

  7. WOW! This is powerful.

    John Markley

    June 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  8. Education 3.0 exactly explains how I feel my role as a teacher is now. A curator of resources, establisher of class culture, guide of the students who is often superfluous in the classroom as the students teach each other.

    Susan Feron

    August 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

  9. This is excellent and wonderfully captures the spirit and vision of self-directed and self-determined learning! I’m sorry that it will not be at ISTE, but that is likely a sign of the strength of your presentation. ISTE has plenty of great ideas, but like AERA and some of the other larger education organizations, from what I can see on the outside, the review process seems to cut out some of the best and most innovative ideas. Self-directed learning and heutagogy are still suspect, and I think it is because it is not teacher-centered enough for the established field of public education and those assessing things with simplistic rubrics. I sometimes go to ISTE because of the people, not as much the presentations. No offense to many great presenters at ISTE, but the accepted papers and presentations tend to be pretty mainstream with some creativity (just my unfair generalization, of course). This is why I gave up on even attending AERA after a couple of years. There seems to be at least a modest measure of group think that resists some of the most promising emerging ideas, likely a business decision as much as anything else. ISTE is rarely cutting edge, just well seated within the most widely accepted trends and innovations. To be sure, something very similar will be at ISTE in 1-3 years.

    • Thanks, Bernard. This was actually from a proposal from last year. Because of the observations you noted, after attending ISTE conferences for close to a decade, I have decided not to attend any longer.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      May 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm

  10. Love this! I too am a survivor of Ed 1.0 and I truly want to do no harm to my children and students. I would say my teaching practice has been 2.0, and you have inspired me to seek out ways to facilitate self-determined learning.


    February 17, 2017 at 12:56 am

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