Why the world isn’t flat…..isn’t it?

A few hectic weeks…..and a few frustrations later, I can’t help but reflect on the value of our global dialogue in helping us to ‘push’ our thinking in education. As I have mentioned before, the challenges of bringing an aging teacher workforce into 21st century thinking is sometimes overwhelming. Then good things happen, and I know that we are ‘going to make it’.

I have had quite a number of emails from colleagues who attended the presentation at the State Library on ‘2020 vision’. All have been to indicate how excited they were at what they heard, and what each person has been doing to get some Web 2.0 projects underway. I don’t always get an email – but I see activity in my wordpress hits; I see new delicious accounts setup; and I find new blogs linking to HeyJude.

We learn from each other – with a global reach. Just this morning I ‘skyped’ Carol from Fielding Graduate University…and I thank Web 2.0 tools for making this kind of professional exchange possible. I recommend taking a look at her Learning is Chaotic links. Carol has been doing some interesting research, so why not drop by and provide some feedback. I am hoping to link up with Carol and Fielding later in the year.

I am able to learn so much from classroom practitioners in my schools, in Australia, and around the world (I have some favourites in my Heyjude Blogrolls, and others are at Bibliosphere News; and new blogs are appearing everwhere, my most recent discovery being Principal Laffan’s blog Laffan Out Loud) – but right now I am fascinated by the work that Tom Barret is doing at ICT in my Classroom, and really enjoying watching how our students are Making the Most of Web 2.0 with his help. Tom says:

Our ability to connect has obviously greatly improved since the advent of this 2nd evolutionary web. The walls of all our classrooms have begun to tumble and we look further outward, the earth as they say has become flat.

We have had a ‘shakey’ start to the venture – but it is also part of the learning for our teachers. The enthusiasm is more than tangible – I can vouch for the teacher enthusiasm and commitment as I have skyped with Jamie weekends and up to midnight some nights!! (IM on skype is a great way of working into the wee hours, without disturbing family, plus it allows ‘next-gen’ multitasking, as we worked together to solve technical problems!).

What’s equally interesting is the number of times that Heyjude blog has been included as part of an academic program of study – universities here in Australia, Canada, and USA. I see this as exciting because it shows how the world of education IS flattening out – and even if I feel a bit like a ‘travelling roadshow’ at times, I know that I have to keep going.

Mind you, Web 2.0 is not what is important – what is important is the changing understanding of the learning landscape of our students, as well as our own opportunities for professional learning. I know this because my blog tells me that it is not only subscribers from English-speaking countries who are part of the dialogue.

So during the last week I discovered Adam Paszternak’s FIKSZ blog, and his post  Tíz technológia-alapú áramlatról könyvtárosokna which turned out to be Michael Stephen’s Ten Tech trends for Librarians. Here’s Michael’s take on the translation.

I’ve exchanged some Hungarian and English messages with Adam, and joined his Delicious links, and got some fun feedback on some of my shared links ;-) I am particularly enjoying seeing Web 2.0 developments through another language and culture, and seeing how innovation presents the same challenges and opportunities regardless of where we are.

Finally, this small reflection is really a response to a post from John Connell on Why the World isn’t flat. John points to an article by Pankaj Ghemawat, professor of global strategy at IESE Business School, entitled, Why The World Isn’t Flat, and asks for response.

I don’t claim to even begin to understand global economics – but I do claim to understand that I can’t be an effective educator without globalisation of my education work. Geographical boundaries, cultures and economies clearly do impact on what in happening in a locality – but is the global perspective that is driving the philosophical changes education. It is important to realise that we are in the middle of significant change – and just because of this, it can be to easy to say ‘well that won’t happen’. I don’t agree with Pankay Ghemawat, just because I think he is taking a short view of things. He says:

Of course, given that sentiments in these respects have shifted in the past 10 years or so, there is a fair chance that they may shift yet again in the next decade. The point is, it’s not only possible to turn back the clock on globalization-friendly policies, it’s relatively easy to imagine it happening.

For me he presents a narrow view when translated to education – a view locked to economic dialogue, without recognition of the cultural changes that are also affected, and which also create change (what happened to the cold war?).

The Australian Good Weekend Magazine ran an article on Shi Shengrong, an unassuming Chinese/Australian citizen known as ‘the sun king’ of solar energy fame – who is the richest man in China, and director of SunTech in Wuxi, China. It is the intersection of business with social responsibility that interest him most. He is determined to retain his focus on solar power and help solve the world’s polution problems. When asked about the goal of economic development he responds:

Few people answer that it’s about eating poisonous foods and breathing acidic air. But that’s what will happen unless we change course. We need to ask ourselves these questions. That is the real bottom line.

Yep! The world is flat – it’s just a matter of how we look at the matter, what period of time we look at, and the questions we ask that gives us the real bottom line.

In my presentations I talk about the profound changes that have taken place in learning in my lifetime. Now it is my responsibility to help ensure that the changes taking place for our students, at a much faster rate, will be fantastic.

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