The idea of learning from the same page
Handschooling is defined by the learner having his or her own mobile access to the golden swamp -- which is the global commons ecosystem of what is known within in the open internet.
Click to play this animation to watch individuals across the world with mobile devices as they browse different topics to learn in the golden swamp of the open internet.
You can click on any of the study subjects to visit actual learning resources.
The four study subjects next to the boy in the lower left are also animated. Click any of them to see a weblet of related resources emerge from the golden swamp.
None of what is animated here applies to online resources that are not open access.
With a handschooling device (a mobile that can browse the internet) each student looks at the same frog.
As the first decade of the 21st century ends, over half of the world's population has a mobile digital device of some sort. All cellphones are mobiles. All wireless laptops, minis, and tablets are mobiles. Pagers and similar limited digital communication devices are mobiles. All of these -- and any other digital device people can carry with them -- support handschooling if the device can do just one thing: browse the open internet.
Open internet is not the part of the internet where you do your banking. It is not your your telcon's app store or most of the apps they offer (because they are not in the open internet). It is not your password protected shopping cart at Amazon.com, but it is the shopping area of that mammoth website. The open internet is not the part of the Nature.com journal online where you have to pay to read an article, but the open internet does include the freebie sections Nature lets you visit without password or paying. The open internet does not include included password protected and subscription archives that abound among college and university academic departments, libraries, and archives. The open internet does include materials from those academic sources that can be freely accessed by anyone browsing the internet. The Public Library of Science, for example, is a robust and growing open access online publisher.
This distinction is key to using the golden swamp to learn, because the open internet is where the golden swamp exists. Digital materials about history, literature, sciences, technology, and other topics we now learn in schools cannot link into the golden swamp if they are password protected, you have to pay for them, or they are behind any other sort of obstacle to connecting with them online.
Interestingly, if new knowledge is published behind the subscription firewall of a journal, or appears in a college academic department's not-open webpages, another version of the new knowledge usually makes it very quickly into the golden swamp by being published elsewhere in an open website. A typical routine for a new science discovery is for it to be published in a closed journal and then to be picked up as a story by an open online new publication. When that happens, the search engines are quick to find and list the online publication report along with the original work on her own website of the scientist who made the discovery.
Handschooling means the ability to carry with you -- making it a mobile -- a device with which you can interact with the golden swamp. It seems obvious that, as the technology makes more and more variety possible, individuals will have varying mobile devices that suit their own particular purposes and activities.
When my grand nephew who was swiping iPhones before he was two is beginning his career, the mobile he will get himself will be one that will help with what he is doing. Perhaps the device will be built into eyeglasses. Pressing a button or two on the device's earpiece will project a screen on his desk displaying the internet as he browses it, along with a projected keyboard on which he can type. Imagining that he is controller of railroad freight integration within North America (something his father is developing now), he would project images of current railroad traffic and overlay models from digital files.
My grand niece, his cousin of the same age, may have become an animal scientist, as her parents are. Her mobile would specialized for capturing images, sounds, and chemical readings. Her device might be carried differently than her cousin's, worn on her wrist perhaps, and have some rather strange looking appendages whose tips take readings from tissue and nest residue.
Contemporaries of these two American cousins who are business guys in central Asia may use older model, laptop type mobiles to crunch their numbers and follow markets worldwide. In the time we are imagining, about twenty years from now, in the less developed areas across the planet the mobile devices people use to interact with the internet will probably still be older and simpler than the then cutting edge devices. There might even be some surviving pre-2010 iPhones and Blackberries still in use.
In spite of device differences, there is an underlying equality that is potent and fundamental. That equality is transformational for worldwide education. That equality is present now and will be in twenty years and the foreseeable future beyond that. The equality is simply that the mobiles will all be interacting with the same internet. The knowledge will be the same in the golden swamp, as it is visited by privileged scientists, upcoming business guys, and kids in the least developed enclaves. All any of them need to experience this equality is a mobile with which to interact with the internet.
For example, if my grand niece puts a new discovery she has made about frogs on her webpage, anyone who browses that page with any type of mobile will see the same new frog stuff. They will all be learning the same frog news in the golden swamp where the new frog knowledge has become a node that provides the identical knowledge to all who visit the node.
For the purposes of handschooling, the mobiles that are used by different students can vary wildly. The incoming knowledge for all of them will be equal so long as they browse the open internet so that they can connect into the golden swamp. If they are doing that with any mobile device, they are participating in handschooling.