Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Had the pleasure yesterday of sharing a lunch -- via Skype -- with teachers in Sparta Township Public Schools thanks to the work of @pjhiggins.

Patrick was kind enough to post a write-up of our conversation that includes some Tweets sent out during the session.

One of the things I walked away from the meeting with was an agreement that things have already changed and that we as teachers now aren't on the van-guard of technology, but rather the front-line of relevancy for our kids.

That's an important distinction.

For all we talk about ed tech, that's not really the point; any more than the point of a rally car race is to enjoy the scenery. The point of all our talk is ultimately to engage our students in meaningful and relevant learning. And in a dynamic and authentic 21C environment, that means -- by default -- using the tools of the social web and the materials of participatory media to make learning happen.

A question came up during the discussion about whether our kids spend too much time in front of the computer. And to paraphrase what I suggested in response: that question itself will soon be obsolete. Because the walls between the online world and the physical world are quickly disintegrating. Mobile and handheld computing, personal projection, Augmented Reality, ubiquitous wireless access, and public surface computing are changing the game. As the technology becomes less expensive and more options are created for public access, this will amount to a complete break from the "screen centered" world of personal computing and usher in an age of direct experiential computing where the digital will be as much a part of our physical reality as bricks and mortar.

Naturally, we tend to think about things in bricks and mortar ways. That's what we know. We tend to think of computers in terms of a "connection" -- i.e. you sit at a computer or carry an iPhone so that you have a device with which to connect to the digital world. I see a future where computing is not a matter of machines and connections, but environments and "being".

That's another important distinction.

And I'll stand by what I said yesterday: "We are probably the last generation that will make the distinction between being online and not being online."

Thanks to Patrick and all the teachers for a great conversation yesterday.

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