To Work in Information Environment

I am on my way to San Francisco — more specifically to the campus of Oracle, just south of the city (I believe).  The week will culminate ThinkQuest Live, a celebration of the work of hundreds of students from around the word, producing education web sites to help their global neighbors learn.

The origins of this project we rooted in the belief that not only do our children need to learn to innovate, but that, perhaps, their perspective as “digital natives” gives them a unique capacity to teach us through their creativity.  I’ve not been involved with the project for a decade, so I do not know exactly where its driving principles are right now.  But I’ll be spending most of the week judging sites — and I plan to learn in the process.

A big part of innovating on the web is understanding how it work, and APIs are a fairly new ingredient. This in from Programmable Web.

This week saw the widest range of APIs being used to develop mashups we’ve seen in awhile: 42 different APIs used in 7 days. Of those new apps added to our mashup directory, only a handful were map mashups, whereas most of them used more unique APIs: Google Chart API, indeed API, Livekick API, MTV API, NPR API, Tagalus API, TwitPic API, uClassify API, Vimeo API, and the Yelp API… (( Musser, John. “42 Different APIs Used in 7 Days – From MTV to NPR.” [Weblog Programmable Web] 16 May 2009. Web.17 May 2009. <>. ))

For those who do not know, APIs are, in a sense, keys into the data of various web sites. It enables use to collect data and even tools from one (or more) web site(s) and include it in our web presences. APIs are how I built Hitchhikr, which lists blog posts written from and about various conferences.

They are important to us, as educators, because APIs provide one more way that the information environment we’re preparing our students for — not to mention within — is incredibly and enticingly workable.

Should we be teaching this to secondary students.  I don’t know.  But are we explicitly giving students the opportunity to learn these techniques to better work the information environment they are learning within.  If we aren’t, then we’re not doing our jobs!

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