The world and me

I am starting out on a new chapter – again. This time is it blogging.

For the last two days, I have been conferencing with a lot of people on technology in teaching. The conference was organised by the Computers in education Group of South Australia and I was enthralled by the things that people were talking about.

The keynote speaker was a Canadian, George Couros, and it was really interesting hearing him. A lot of keynote speakers at conferences seem great, until they open their mouths, but George is inspiring. George is one of the “new breed” of educators who use technology, not just as a tool, but as a part of their lives. His enthusiasm and energy for the changing face of educational technology is certainly contagious. BTW, George is a Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning in the Parkland School Division, Alberta, Canada, so he is certainly involved and committed.

One of the quotes from that conference was

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
Stephen Hawking

This sums up education in a nutshell. Education often creates the illusion of knowledge, not real knowledge. Most people go through school with minimum enthusiasm and are quite happy to not do too much at all. By the time they reach high school, they believe they have learned most of what they will need for the rest of their lives, and they get unhappy with teachers and schools telling them things they know they do not really need.  In most cases, this is, unfortunately, true. The people who believe this are not interested in too much outside their own immediate sphere, they quickly develop a “comfort zone” and are just not prepared to move out of it. Along comes some new technology, which they either use as a toy or ignore altogether, and they then wonder why their lives are suddenly in turmoil. They do not know enough to understand that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander in this world. They are a part of the world and they interact with other people, and are affected by what other people do but they do not recognise that. This is what they miss out on if they drift through school.

With the incredible growth of the digital technologies of the last 12 years, we are seeing this interconnectedness over and over again. We know it is happening, we understand it is happening, but still, too many people think that things happen in isolation. The analogy used in chaos theory was the connections between the fluttering butterfly in the Amazon and the hurricane in New York has become real with this technology. Someone does something small in one insignificant place, and within hours it has gone “viral” and millions of people know about it within days. This is really worse than the tiny village where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Instead of twenty people knowing you stubbed your toe, with Twitter and YouTube, it could be 20million.

It is the speed of change that is truly frightening though. The development of technology to mass production and marketing is happening in months now, where it might have taken decades in the past. The rate at which things change must speed up, and we are having difficulty in keeping up with it.

Schools are critical in this process now, yet too many schools are just not getting the message. Too many teachers are trying to do the things they were doing twenty years ago, not understanding that it is just not going to work with the new audiences they have.

I don’t know if I can do any better, but I am certainly going to try.

About colinfraser

I claim the title of educator, because I want to be more than "just" a teacher.
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