Last week I wrote about A fourth orb (world) for Roger Penrose’s diagram, and included an illustration with his 3 orbs and a fourth circle that I added representing the internet. Today I have added the little boy using his wireless device to browse the internet.
I have been working in recent weeks toward refining the focus of my GoldenSwamp.com blog. The illustration with the orbs and the boy mobile-browsing the internet pretty well captures where I am going. What the boy is doing changes education in ways that are almost too beautiful to be true.
Two big things are bringing the new global golden age of learning into view:
ONE: The amassing of the contents of Penrose’s 3 orbs within a single open venue where networking laws can refine the knowledge gold within the grand swamp of information. The process presents what humankind knows in a totally new, integrated way.
TWO: The individual mobile (untethered) device will soon connect everyone on the planet with the will and wits to use it into this knowledge.
The fabulous adventures ahead for educators are to understand and make findable what Stuart Kauffman calls “ceaselessly, co-constructing creativity” that describes the emergence. No longer separated by print and ivy walls, learning resources within the internet are for the first time experiencing the honing and enrichment of emergence.
I hope the education sector comes out of its haze very soon as well. The way learning is done is changing, and as the global emergence accelerates education will be at least as fundamentally challenged as journalism is now. I found it helpful to my thinking to use The Independent’s animated chart — while substituting in my own mind education issues and suggestions for the ones about journalism in the interactive.
We still have school imbalance savage inequalities described by Jonathan Kozol in 1992. The imbalance is getting worse: Now, kids who have their own mobile Internet devices — laptops and smartphones — have a new, important advantage over youngsters in failing schools. The analog resources of public schooling are designed to let most students settle for a median of C+, like the high point on a bell curve. Things are very different at the ends of the bell curve. Their is deep failure and dropping out at one end. At the other end an elite is excelling with the help of Internet access through mobile devices that individual students own. Examples: private prep schools, a scattering of exceptional schools in wealthy districts, and homeschoolers.
The simple fix is to give every student his or her own mobile wireless access to the Internet.
Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt told the June 2009 graduates of Carnegie Mellon University that ubiquitous information is coming and that it is important because it is “a tremendous equalizer.” Dumping many billions of dollars on the bell curve system of schools we have now will not equalize the opportunity of students. Some students will still be in failing schools, most will be near the C+ average, a few will have every advantage. If all have devices they will be learning from the same virtual page, and in that they will be equal.
There is some profanity in the video that reminds me of overhearing my little brother and his friend talking to each other when they were about 13-years-old. The voices you hear are real people, whose physical location could be anywhere on earth where there is a sufficient internet connection to play the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) World of Warcraft (WoW).
The scene you will watch in the video is played out by avatars, each representing and controlled remotely by a human player in WoW. You will see why the human resources industry has begun to pay attention to people whose resumes include proven leadership in games like WoW. Clearly the “dude” here will not want to put this incident on his resume.
One of the knee jerk responses to proposing learning on the internet is that schools provide socialization for students. The “dude” here may not think of his experience as socialization, but there is no doubt he learned a thing or two about organizing people — the hard way. Because his learning was virtual, only his avatar needs to fall on his sword. This virtual venue is emerging as a major aspect of education.
The internet is a network platform in which humankind is embedding everything it knows. Educators who are building the future of learning are using the networked, embedded knowledge that the internet contains. It is important for educators to no longer hold the internet off judgmentally. Educators should be hands-on optimizing and connecting knowledge online. The image above shows the reason why: it is how networks connect.
The column going up the right side of the illustration with this post visualizes how knowledge grows in a network. A student’s mind is a network. The internet is a network. Knowledge is a network. It all meshes, and that is a beautiful thing about the new education.
Click this line to watch the video from which the right column is taken. Imagine as you watch that what is spreading is in a student’s mind. Connecting as a richer and richer network as the student learns is his understanding of biology, of the topics to the left of the column in the image above. (Actually the video depicts the spreading pattern of a Bluetooth mobile phone virus — but networks follow their own laws regardless of what is embedded in them.)
I made this illustration with boy and the K-12 ruler several years ago to show how school grades and standards chop apart ideas that need to connect to be understood. I added the right column today because I think it is a powerful visualization how open online content does the opposite of the traditional grades/standards chop chop. Networks connect ideas and deepen context causing learning.
Let’s get real here! Two different things are happening in education. Continuing these different trends for learning will drive an underclass further under while increasingly engaging elite kids in the new 21st century learning methodology.
The lad in the picture is my grand nephew. He is operating his Mother’s iPhone, where he taught himself how to switch on his own among the games he plays there. He is not yet two-years-old. He will be in elementary school in 4 years and will move on to college the early 2020s. What will we prepare for his focus into this newly emergent cognitive venue? Our stewardship and enrichment in the golden swamp is the most meaningful thing we can do as educators for his generation and those to follow.
There are, I think, several dimensions, including social, games, etc., within the internet swamp where educators can cultivate, husband, and interconnect learning resources and activity. My own focus is on what I like to call “The Grand Idea” — which is the formation underway of a virtual network of what is known by humankind. As we more perfectly optimize the nodes within The Grand Idea — this small world network — everyone in the world will learn from the same virtual pages. The recently announced Map of Science created at Los Alamos National Laboratory illustrates the beginnings of The Grand Idea, and gives a glimpse of it (see below).
Although this map visualizes connections among article citations, what is being networked is the relationship among the meaning of the content of the articles. The meaning of content — not curricula, school grades, or standards — is the cognitive relationship and the context of the knowledge to be learned. The internet is the first medium we have had outside the human mind for mirroring these relationships. Very cool indeed.
In 1966, when I saw the first episode of Star Trek, I was an advertising copywriter in El Paso, Texas. In that fairly small market, I was present at the local television studios when we taped the spots I wrote for clients. Production was visually analog. The insert above from the first episode of Star Trek gives you the idea. The stars were walking on a stage with rocks undoubtedly made out of cardboard. The cliffs and sky was surely painted props too. Nothing was digital.
When I got to thinking about the contrast between how the Star Trek story was conveyed by media 40 years ago to what we have now, it struck me how little the presentation of subjects they are supposed to learn in schools has changed for students during that same period.
Having completed high school in the 1950s, I found the 1966 Star Trek production compelling. Times, however, have changed. The television ads I created back then with a few analog props have been replaced by dazzling digital commercials. Millions of school kids who will enjoy the new digital extravaganza of this year’s Star Trek movie — and are accustomed to the dazzle of digital ads – will return in the fall to essentially analog classrooms.
For educators to take on this Starship Education challenge would be a lot better than throwing huge amounts of money once again at the analog education methods our children endure:
Learning… the Final Digital Frontier. This is the voyage of the Starship Education. Its five-year mission: to explore the strange new worlds of the internet and mobiles, to seek out new ways to teach ideas and new access to knowledge, to boldly go where where our youngsters already are.
“Computing skills will be put on an equal footing with literacy and numeracy in an overhaul of primary education that aims to slim down the curriculum – but not lose the basics.
“Children will be taught to read using internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo in the first few years of school, it is announced.
“Pupils in English primary schools will learn to write with keyboards, use spellcheckers and insert internet “hyperlinks” into text before their 11th birthday under the most significant reform of timetables since the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988.
“The review by Sir Jim Rose, former head of inspections at Ofsted, also recommends the use of Google Earth in geography lessons, spreadsheets to calculate budgets in maths, online archives to research local history and video conferencing software for joint language lessons with schools overseas.
“Sir Jim insisted the changes would not replace come at the expense of traditional teaching, saying: ‘We cannot sidestep the basics”‘ . . .”
Near the top of the left sidebar of this page is the entrance to the expanding GoldenSwamp Study Subjects section. I am now spending a couple of weeks building that section from my EdClicks study links that I have been collecting since 2002. The links I have and will continue to collect are samples of the superior learning links available online. You are welcome to click into the collection as it is being built now. Hopefully it will be a useful source into the future for those of us dedicated to showing the high quality of online study subject materials.
It has been fascinating for me to go through the links I have collected in the past. Almost all of them are still active, and I would say most of them have been well kept up over the years. Many were at the cutting edge when they were first created years ago — and remain so. Clearly their keepers are individuals or teams of expert Web developers and content devotees.
The brain of your child whom you entrust to standardized schools is the most complicated thing in the universe, with 100 billion brain cells none of which seem to be in charge. So explains Steven Strogatz (about the human brain) in the above video. He and Duncan Watts are introduced in this first of a five-part explanation of network theory. Strogatz and Watts discovered small world networks and are top tier scientists of their generation. The other videos are available on YouTube: two, three, four, and five.
What we are learning about networks make standardized schooling obsolete. The platform for the new education will be the interaction of four networks — each of which we are beginning to understand from the new network science introduced in the videos. The four networks are: the internet, the brain, what is known by humankind, and the network in which humankind is interconnect by six degrees or so of separation.
Although networks and education have yet to be heard much above the education din, GoldenSwamp will focus increasingly on this fundamental subject. For example: It is downright silly to impose watered down stand alone standards upon an eager brain that is a network of 100 billion cells from which thought seeks to emerge by connecting patterns.
This new IBM ad tells us: “When systems connect the world gets smarter.”
There is a principle here that should be central to how we reconfigure education. Throwing a lot of money at education that is disconnected from the changing world is throwing a lot of money down a dark hole. When students connect to the smarter world network the world gets smarter. The mobile internet will connect kids so they can connect with ideas and systems of ideas. Doing education any other way in the 21st century is not smart.
This video is narrated by Drew Berry, who created it. The video is part of SeedMagazine’s new feature on science education called The Interpreters. Just watching the video is enough said about the opportunities to put learning into classrooms and student hands by using the visualization tools and the internet.
Vampire walking from Carl Zimmer on Vimeo.
Carl Zimmer’s new Discover article about How To Be a Bat [Life in Motion] includes six videos of bats in action. It is time to get over idea that learning something is boring. Such foolishness is so very 20th century! To “fix” education and catch it up with the other sectors of our time we need to put the cascade of excellent knowledge online — like the walking vampires you will see in the video above — into the handschooling now possible with mobile phones.