A New Learning Landscape

Robot-7I got raked over the coals pretty good yesterday.  There was lots of disagreement in comments over where IQ comes from,  the purpose of education, my choice of sources, and more.  It’s what I hope to see — civil, constructive conversation.

But my reason for sharing the WIRED article seems to have been missed.  It wasn’t the first time.  You see, I grew up in simpler times ;-).  Well, with respect to machines, it was a simpler time.  Most machines were designed to do one thing.  Our car carried us from one place to the next with reasonable comfort (by 1950s standards).  My watch displayed the current time.  Our TV displayed programming from four TV stations.  These devices had buttons, knobs, and switches, each intended for one function.  They turned things on and off, controlled the volume, or tuned in the stations.  You read the dial or label and pushed or turned.

Then came digital watches.  They could do ten things — but there were only three buttons to do them with.  Then VCRs, that could do a hundred things — but there were only ten buttons to do them with.  An I am completely at a loss as to how my son controls his mildly alien looking character in World of Warcraft, interacting within an enormous and enormously rich virtual world, with his mouse and keyboard.

I grew up with machines that were designed to do one thing.  Today, our machines are so much more.  I seriously struggle with my mobile phone.  I may be using 5% of its capability.  But I imagine that if I gave my daughter fifteen minutes with the phone, should could show me another 25% of its features, if not more. 

My children have grown up in a world of machines that you literally have to reason your way into — and what I believe, is that this has made them smarter than me in some ways that I think will be valuable to them and their future. 

I also believe that this is something that we should be trying to understand, and there are certainly those who are.  But I also believe that this is a conversation we need to be having, not just at conferences, but also in teachers’ lounges and PTA meetings.  It isn’t just entertainment.

Image Citations:
Robotgirl, “Robot-7.” Robotgirl’s Photostream. 7 Aug 2004. 21 Dec 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/robotgirl/162169/>.
Hsu, Jonathan. “WoWScrnShot_032606-171649.” Jonathan Hsu’s Photostream. 26 Mar 2006. 21 Dec 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/jonathanyhsu/118484287/>.



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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.