The encyclopedia was created in 1771. In its 277 year run, it had 4000 articles created by 4000 people. It was a primary and legitimate source of information. We’d look it up if ever we needed to know a fact about something. I am using past tense to describe the encyclopedia because last year, after almost 3 centuries, the encyclopedia has ceased production. So what happened? Well in January 15, 2001 Wikipedia was launched. It was started as a concept of an online encyclopedia which has grown all thanks to the idea of online collaboration like Facebook and Youtube. Wikipedia has around 3,890,000 articles from around 760,000 contributors. Juxtaposed to the encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a knowledge tool that takes away the idea of expert driven content to collaborated content, all thanks to the internet.
Wikipedia is an example of how our world has changed more over the last 10 years than before. The way we are connected to each other was just science fiction before yet, today we can’t seem to think of a day without checking our email, text, or Facebook page. So this is the world our kids are growing into and we must quickly recognize that it’s not the world we grew up in anymore, it’s faster and more connected and we have to catch up for our kid’s sake. I’m not saying everything has changed, there are still some things that remain constant like a desk, or academic integrity, these concepts remain the same but the tools have changed.
The internet has grown 3000% in the last 10 years, and our children are always online. Social Media is now part of our everyday lives. 50% of Children aged 2 to 5 know how to play a basic computer game and spend roughly 7.5 hours a day in front of Digital Media. You got kids playing with iPads, iPhones, going online when our generation was playing outside. The children today are connected and that’s why they are bored. According to Gabe Zichermann, a Gamification Expert, our kids do not have ADHD or any social disorder; they are just bored with the pace of life. At an early age kids are trained to play games which are more complicated than our basic single goal games. They actually have to play, manage maps, manage resources, and listen to outside noises like parents. They are in fact trained to multitask. So when it comes to education we need to shift our traditional methods to address the changes.
Using our online tools and gamifying the learning experience can have advantages. As a Faculty in BCIT( British Columbia Institute of Technology ), I handle the Trendsetting class for the New Media program. In my class I have learned to utilize Facebook as a way to handle class discussions that go on after class hours. These students are always connected and next to email, Social Media is a great way for you to start a conversation with them. I have students messaging me on Facebook about topics on the class that they find online and it’s just so much easier to share in that platform. A more basic example I have come across would be how a game as simple as Monopoly can actually encourage kids to learn. Tim Vandenberg got his 6thgrade class in California to perform better through Monopoly, they were doing probability problems at a higher level and turned around performance levels of the grade 6 students. Gamifying Math is an example on how kids learn through gaming, they have the drive to learn but we should start speaking their language to get them interested.
Now games and social media are tools that our children are familiar with, and the idea that information comes from one source only is changing. We need to recognize that information can now come from different sources and that thanks to the convergence of the internet it is easier to disseminate that knowledge in creative ways. Social Media as a tool for learning is very present. We can reach out to our students and start a discussion on things that they see online, as well as what we learn traditionally. We have reached the intersection of technology and education and what we have to do is turn it to a parallel road. We are all nodes capable of distributing information; we should find a way to connect the nodes.
The challenge now, my fellow educators and developers, is to find the tools to pave the way, we need a big blue button to the world, something that would connect us to each other and foster collaborative learning. The structures that we have can be used to start this new flow connectivity, we need to utilize them and begin a class together as a planet.
MoodleMoot Vancouver 2013 – Bradley Shende Keynote from m2o on Vimeo.
Bradley Shende “I Just Click Things”