Information Age Education Blog
The "New" Medium of Computers, Connectivity, and Increasing AI Is Both Multimedia and Multi-message
Quoting Marshall McLuhan well-known statement:
The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. (Marshall McLuhan; Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar; 1911–1980.)
McLuhan’s insightful and prescient statement was made long before we had the Web, cell phones, and were just starting to make rapid strides toward ubiquitous connectivity. Think in terms of the new medium consisting of computers, computerized devices, worldwide connectivity, and artificial intelligence.
This new medium has come upon us quite rapidly in terms of an historical time line, and it continues to change relatively rapidly. For myself and for most people, such rapid change leaves us grasping at straws, the little pieces that seem to us to be immediately useful and relevant to our lives.
The immediately useful and relevant concept tends to move younger people to different uses of the medium than it does older people. This situation has existed for a very long time. Quoting Plato:
The democratic youth lives along day by day, gratifying the desire that occurs to him, at one time drinking and listening to the flute, at another downing water and reducing, now practicing gymnastic, and again idling and neglecting everything; and sometimes spending his time as though he were occupied in philosophy. (Plato; Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the western world; 428/427 BC–348/347 BC.)
When I think in terms of our formal educational system, I see this new medium creating a substantial problem because of adults’ versus children’s adoption and use of the new technology. Our formal educational system is designed by and run by adults who tend to have only modest insights into how children are immersing themselves into and routinely using the new medium.
One example of the difficulties I see is the frequent adult approach of deciding that education will be better if every student has a laptop computer or perhaps an iPad. I consider this an example of throwing money at a very large problem with little insightful evidence that it will make an appreciable difference. Sure, a school or school district can gain some bragging rights. But will the school or school district modify its overall curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment to fully and routinely integrate the capabilities of this new medium? That takes a far larger investment and a great deal more time and effort than does just providing students with laptop computers or iPads.
What You Can Do
You know that the message sent is not necessarily the message received. You, for example, have “constructed” a personal meaning to my message given above. My overall intent is to provide you with some information and ideas that you will act upon in a manner that leads to improving our informal and formal educational systems.
So, pause for a few seconds and think about the meaning you have constructed from my message and some possible action that you might take based on that meaning. What occurs to you that you, personally, will try out in your quest to improve our education system?
As a personal example, I often think about the idea of the medium being the message. But I am concerned that our educational system does not yet understand that the medium is still changing quite rapidly. Our students have developed their own voice in this new ICT "Mass Media"
Spend a bit of time reflecting on what you have just read. How does the information fit in with your current knowledge, beliefs, and activities? How can you make use of the information to help improve our informal and formal educational systems? Who do you know that might benefit from reading this IAE Blog entry?
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Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
Artificial Intelligence. See http://iae-pedia.org/Artificial_Intelligence.
Empowering Learners and Teachers. See http://iae-pedia.org/Empowering_Learners_and_Teachers.
Information Underload and Overload. See http://iae-pedia.org/Information_Underload_and_Overload.
Knowledge is Power. See http://iae-pedia.org/Knowledge_is_Power.
Open Content Libraries. See http://iae-pedia.org/Open_Content_Libraries.
Our Educational System Should Strive Toward Heterogeneity Rather Than Homogeneity. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/our-educational-system-should-strive-toward-heterogeneity-rather-than-homogenuity.html
Read and Write Across the Curriculum. See http://iae-pedia.org/Read_and_Write_Across_the_Curriculum.
Real World and Video Game Realities. See http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2010-40.html.
Think Globally, Act Locally. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/think-globally-act-locally.html.
You, Me, and We Versus “They” in Attempts to Improve Education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/you-me-and-we-versus-they-in-attempts-to-improve-education.html.
What the Future is Bringing Us. See http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.
Written by Dave Moursund, November 13, 2010.
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology recently released a 124-page report titled: Transforming American Education: National Education Technology Plan 2010. It is available online at http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010.
I have worked with several of the authors in the past, and each one of them is a very well-qualified leader in the field of computers in education. The following quoted material is quite consistent with my IAE Blog entry of 11/13/2010:
Learning: Engage and Empower
The model of learning described in this plan calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all learners. The model asks that we focus what and how we teach to match what people need to know, how they learn, where and when they will learn, and who needs to learn. It brings state-of-the art technology into learning to enable, motivate, and inspire all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve. It leverages the power of technology to provide personalized learning and to enable continuous and lifelong learning.
Many students’ lives today are filled with technology that gives them mobile access to information and resources 24/7, enables them to create multimedia content and share it with the world, and allows them to participate in online social networks where people from all over the world share ideas, collaborate, and learn new things. Outside school, students are free to pursue their passions in their own way and at their own pace. The opportunities are limitless, borderless, and instantaneous.
The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. In contrast to traditional classroom instruction, this requires that we put students at the center and empower them to take control of their own learning by providing flexibility on several dimensions. [Bold added for emphasis.]