Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Over the horizon

What lies over the horizon for teaching and learning? How will the learning space differ? I believe that the technologies we have NOW will quickly become obsolete. I’ve seen the size and weight of laptops keep getting smaller and smaller. Now, the term is “netbook” and not laptop. These small devices let me connect to the world anywhere, anytime, and any place (provided signal strength is available). They are dropping in price. They are becoming as powerful as a desktop workstation. How will this change the landscape of learning? I believe it will become less space specific, and truly occur anywhere – inside or outside.

Telephones, or smart phones, are quickly becoming the next mini-computer. I can surf the web, download applications, check email, compose email, take pictures (and videos), share them. The always on, always connected world of the smart phone has the greatest potential to shrink our world. I can reach out to a large group IMMEDIATELY. And, the group is now EVERYWHERE in the world. The world, this community is getting more connected.

Collaboration. People realize that there is more power in the group than the individual. Being able to ask questions and confirm my ideas or present me with new ideas is powerful. I am amazed at the speed of asking questions and receiving answers – sometimes a multitude of answers – from my colleagues.

The PLN (Professional Learning Network) is, in my opinion, the most dynamic part of the horizon. Using many social media tools (Twitter and Ning, as examples) I am able to learn and grow as a professional. The members of my PLN are colleagues and collaborators who share the passion of education – for students of all ages, and all educational venues.

Regardless of the technologies that may come and go (as many do) there are, or will be, at least two constants: first, innovation is key and critical to everything; and second, collaboration is a necessary part of advancing knowledge.

We will continue to find new and different ways to use existing materials. We will continue to demand easier and more intuitive programs and applications. We want it now, and we don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning intricacies or the subtle nuances. We will continue to expand and explore teaching and learning strategies. The desire for knowledge will fuel our drive to create, assemble, deconstruct and reconstruct knowledge.

We know that there is power in the group, in the collective, in the community. Whether our community is small or large, local or international, we are driven to connect with others.

What’s over the horizon? Depends on where you are standing. What do YOU see?

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