Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ISTE13: Nodes, Networks, and the Future of Education

Recently I was part of a presentation team at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference. This blog post is a first in a series of reflections from the conference. 

While at the conference, I heard the term node several times throughout presentations. In a network, a node is a connection point. It's anything connected to that network. 

The term stuck in my mind not because it was a new term for me, but because it was the first time I had heard it used in the world of education. It represents the shift to education in a global society, rather than teaching and learning in an isolated school or classroom.

Jane McGonigal mentioned nodes in her opening keynote about gamification in educationShe said, 

"There are 1 billion gamers in the world. Time to use the network to invent the future of education."

She also shared this slide during her presentation:

Do we have time to be a part of a network and do everything else we have to do? How do we accomplish this along with everything else we have to do as educators? 

First, we don't need to think of it as an add-on. Educators have always been a part of a network, whether it was within a school, a special-interest group, or a state/national association. Our methods of connecting now are different than they used to be, and they are more far-reaching. Instead of sitting in the faculty lounge or meeting up for coffee, we can connect via Twitter, Skype, a Google Hangout, or more. Technology makes it possible to connect innovative educators, share resources and ideas, and push us out of our comfort zones. 

Second, students are part of the network. It's no longer an information hierarchy, with the teacher as the distributor of information. Students have access to content and instruction from around the world. Technology allows our students to connect with other students across the globe, access experts in the field, learn about different cultures, and obtain "content" at will.

Additionally, other stakeholders are part of the network. Community members, business owners, parents, guardians are all part of the new learning sphere. Technology changes the structure from being vertically aligned to one of horizontal interconnectedness. Tapping into the creative ideas and knowledge base of the individuals in the network has never been easier, and it has the potential to transform education as we know it. 

Do we have time NOT to be connected?

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