Over the recent 2 week October holidays we have here in Scotland I spent an inordinate amount of time watching and listening to various presentations from the K12 Online 2007 Conference.
The last day of the conference was devoted to a marathon 24hr live online discussion via elluminate which I was lucky enough to visit on 2 occasions; quite early on when I "met" Joe had a first verbal contact with Paul Harrington. I was enjoyable but there were too few participants to ensure a wide ranging discussion. I also joined later with about and hour to go and it was fascinating. There were educators from all over the world, all kinds of time zones, all talking about the wonderful world of the web.
This was great and I feel happy about my contributions...and shhhh maybe I'll get a few more readers.
However it really brought to mind a couple of big questions that have been turning around my head for a while. Questions to which I have my own ideas for answers but questions which I feel we should all be asking of ourselves and others.
1. I love web 2.0 stuff and can see the advantages it can bring to education but how can I persuade the 30 year career teacher that it might be worthwhile (for the kids sake) to take a step out of the worksheet comfort zone and take on the risk on potential failure in the classroom by trying something new?
The thing that just kept leaping into my mind whilst enjoying K12 was that whilst it is great to find same-minded people across the globe, where were the doubters, those that would force us to counter their arguments to help us prove our point. I think that the answer to this conundrum lies in Derek Wenmoth's presentation Holding a Mirror to Professional Practice. The persuasion will come I am sure when more and more of us seriously evaluate the work we are doing and prove to the doubters that this is not just another passing educational fad...like non-competitive sport.
2. When you look at the cluster maps posted on blogs you see swathes of red dots over North America, Europe, Australia/NZ and parts of Asia. The world is often still green across Africa, South America and large parts of Asia...Hmmmm I wonder why? Could this be the developing world? Not only do these parts of the world often miss out on even basic educational (and health) needs how far behind us are they going to be in the wonderful world of the web. (I have often thought about trying to help my brother-in-law in Cameroon set up a cyber cafe, but as he says there's no point, they only get electricity every other day...30km away from the capital city.)
How can our use of web 2.0 technologies help my little nephews and nieces "au village"?
Yes you all cry there's the One Laptop Per Child Initiative, which is a fantastic idea, but they are relying on governments, who struggle to ensure a simple basic level of education for all children, to purchase a huge number of units. If there is intermittent electricity there is hardly likely to be the capacity to create large bandwidth.
The thing I find most frustrating is that at the moment I don't think there is all that much we can do to help. Our governments and big multi-national corporations need to get serious...more serious. STOP ENFORCING ALL DEBT REPAYMENTS, STOP STEALING MINERAL RESOURCES, STOP BRIBING EASILY ENCOURAGED OFFICIALS. Then maybe individuals like myself and many of you out there in blogger world can kick in.
This article from the BBC shows people are starting to think abpout how to address this issue. But where will we be in comparison by 2012?
Let me know what you think.