I am now sitting in the Westley Field's (from Methodist Ladies College) presentation on Skoolaborate: Schools collaborating to engage student learners. What I like about the start of Westley's presentation is his comment that we should not get too caught up with what is the right and wrong way of doing things. If we are on the cutting edge, and or starting out, there is no right or wrong way. We learn by doing. This of course touches on the theme of the unconference "Learn through play".
An important development is the use of emerging technologies in the learning environment. Westley mentioned the New Media Consortium's (NMC) Horizon Project. The Horizon Project is the centerpiece of NMC's Emerging Technologies Initiative. It charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression. CHECK IT OUT. This is not about science fiction; this is technology in development, and technology that will hit the shelves in the near future. Ignore it at your own risk!
So what is this new technology? Here are some examples cited:
1. services and things that beam out information to portable devices (and the portable devices are getting smaller and more flexible).
2. Screens (interfaces) that are flexible and very, very, very thin.
3. The take up of 3D holographs on flat screens.
This means we are going to be faced with more interactive, multi-dimensional, and much, much richer content. How do we deal with this, create it, present it, describe it, work with it? And it is not just about linear narratives. The individual can choose, create, add, or delete their OWN narratives and learning experiences, and then mash it up with their peer's stuff.
Westley also talked about some of the emerging online learning environments that are operating outside of the traditional school environment. For example see Global Challenge, Values exchange from New Zealand, or Mathletics. Some of these online services are paying top dollar for the teachers (mortals) behind the portal. So what does all this mean for traditional schools?
Well, some of the innovative stuff is happening because people can. It is not necessarily happening because they have a bigger budget than the school down the road. Some of the innovative stuff is also happening because the kids are creating content, interfaces, and processes. Being kids they see things in new and different ways. For example, Westly showed some very interesting virtual learning places that the kids actually created themselves in Second Life.