Humankind has advanced itself in many ways in 10 000 years. One of the most noticeable advancements is of course Technology. I mean technology in the broadest sense of the word. When my grandmother was born in rural Ukraine in 1905, there were not too many planes flying around. Yet, by the time she passed away in the early 90’s, of course we as a race had been into space and back, successfully.
If one looks in a broad sense, at all the technology we have developed over the years, there is one undeniable pattern to it all. As a society, as a globe, as a race, we as humans, have more often than not, allowed ourselves to succumb to the use of technology not so much to improve ourselves, but simply for other purposes.
To illustrate, I will focus on radio to some bit, television, and the online world. With the advent of radio, the world was brought closer together. Radio, probably has been affected the least in all of this. However a medium, that could immediately, and fairly cheaply once they were mass produced, bring not only news and entertainment to the masses, was and is used primarily for entertainment. Enter television, radio with videos. A huge potential as a teaching tool. However, in today’s world, how many programs on television are actually educational? TVO and PBS constantly raise money to keep some decent programming on. However the majority of people are more interested in the entertainment value of television. For me personally, I tend to not find much in the way of TV entertainment to even be entertaining, but that is me. I am actually quite saddened with the state of so called “educational television”, such as programs on History, that are anything but. However, I digress, as usual.
So, enter the online world, in roughly 1997 or so, for most consumers. Once again, a great potential, and unlike television and radio, not only mass produced. For a few bucks and some programming skills, anyone could have a website….perhaps not professional, but a website nonetheless. Fast forward to today, and when you add mobile to the equation, we now have a world where there are literally 6 billion people with something to share. Will Richardson put it as, and I paraphrase, “there are 6 billion teachers out there”. And Will is right. Anything one wants to know how to do, one can find a pretty reliable lesson somewhere on the internet. The potential is massive. This is truly world changing, or more correctly, could be world changing. The question of the day is, will we finally learn from our mistakes and ensure, as a society it is world changing? The internet is saturated and full of everything from uselessness to the bizarre to the horribly degenerate. However, there is so much that does not fit into that category.
As an education system, are we going to leverage that and teach our kids to learn from those 6 billion teachers out there, where appropriate, or are we going to miss this opportunity too?
Only time will tell. I hope for my own kids, the answer is yes, because they will have a better world to live in.