Monday, April 02, 2007

Alan November's Presentation

Well last week Alan November came to one of our schools to speak on Learning Communities and how technology can help facilitate these communities. A few things that came up during this time were things that we have heard about in the past.

One item that came up more than once was the Digital Divide which is something that I thought was quite important. Though Alan didn't speak directly to this I thought of a recent article that I read in a magazine about the benefits of community fiber connectivity, as opposed to wireless connectivity. This is especially timely with the recent news in our community about possible wireless connectivity. Even Google has some interest in it, even if only for their April Fool's day joke. Now to me this is only a start to bridge this divide. However once connectivity becomes as simple as adding a Television antenna or walking down a sidewalk the other issues can be dealt with.

The first would be how do we give people, students primarily, equal access? One simple thing that is already in place to begin to deal with this is the access in libraries. However there are other options. One is to reconstitute the devices that are thrown into the trash or recycled daily. I have personally learned a lot about computers by taking apart my friends old machines and rebuilding them into a viable machine. A viable machine into days world can be a simple computer with a network card and a small hard drive. We don't need huge machines for viable equal access to technology. Creating the opportunities for students to build their own machine and have access to the Internet from that machine will give them ownership of the machine itself as well as a good introduction into learning some basic computer skills.

Now for the operating system something that is built for minimalistic machines would work well. Perhaps something like a small Linux distribution would work well. This would allow the use of the older hardware to run and be able to perform most of the tasks that you would like. Since most of what Alan was talking about related to skill of learning in the electronic world, this would be a great step towards equality, especially since so much can now be done on the web.

What do you think about the presentation you have seen in recent memory?


At 4/03/2007 9:09 PM, Blogger Brian said...

While I agree that we don't need the big, powerful machines in order to learn the school systems we are in are not designed to refurbish machines for simply web access. Are we looking to redefine the role of our technical teams?

The web is becoming so powerful. Honestly, who really needs to purchase Microsoft Office anymore? Google has it's docs and spreadsheets that users can create and collaborate on work online, sychronously or asynchronously.
This doesn't address other specialized software, but it does address the majority of the tasks that students take on.

If I were in a classroom now, I would ask my students to work with many of the tools that Alan, among others, mention. The specific tool, i.e. - Skype vs. another VOIP software, does not matter. It's the ability to share, collaborate and learn from others.

I'll tell you what, I'm ready to learn from others... how 'bout the rest of you?


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