Yesterday, a coupled with a comment from Eric Langhorst a request for some ideas about what exactly has changed in our world that demands new technologies in our classrooms. The request sparked some valuable conversation, but not exactly what I was after.
It seems to me that in order to shape the application of new technologies, we need a mold to shape it around, and that mold needs to be new as well. One of our problems has been that we have tried to shape the technology around out-dated notions of what schooling is about, rather than reshaping our notions to reflect new world conditions.
So here is my basic list. Here’s what has changed, what is different.
- The Information is different
- It’s Networked — Information is increasingly coming to us through networks, initially radio and TV, but today it comes to us over the Internet from nearly anywhere, from nearly anyone, and for nearly any reason
- It’s Digital — Information is now made of ones and zeros, and as a result, information can be reshaped in a wide variety of ways, using increasingly ubiquitous tools. We are starting to think of information as a raw material, not merely as a product to be consumed.
- It’s Overwhelming — Information is increasingly increasing. This is important because the messages that we wish to deliver to help us accomplish our goals, must compete for attention among all the other messages out there.
- It Doesn’t Need a Container — information is shaped differently. It can not be contained nor controlled in the traditional sense. We must depend less on central gatekeepers to assure the information and more on our own skills and highly developed sense of ethics when accessing, using, and producing information.
Each of these aspects of information leads to a dramatic expansion of what it means to be literate, the new BASICS of school curriculum.
- When computers become smarter than we are (access to super-human intelligence)
- When computers becoming self-aware (new notions of what life is) [I know, really weird]
- The ability to stop aging — (what are the implications on population?)
- Nano Replicators that can produce almost anything on command
Consider nano manufacturing. Consider suddenly finding that only 2% of the worlds population could produce 100% of our material needs. No need for jobs — in the next 20 years? How would we handle that? How would it work? Are we teaching our children to answer these questions? Should we be including science fiction as required reading along with William Shakespeare.
So that’s the short list and exactly 2Ã‚Â¢ worth.