Jeff Jarvis posted one of those push-my-feeble-brain-to-the-limit posts last week which I think has resonance in a lot of ways. It starts with this:
In the future of media, which is now, everybody is a network. In the past, networks were defined by control of content or distribution. But now, you canâ€™t own all distribution and content is controlled where itâ€™s created.
He writes about how when we work and practice in a transparent, read and write environment, all of us become nodes in much larger networks. (There is a lot of
George Siemens in this.) I love this description:
Networks are about sharing now; they used to be about control. Networks are two-way; they used to be one-way. Networks are about aggregation more than distribution; they are about finding and being found. Networks are now open while, by their very definition, they used to be closed. You join networks and leave them them at will; you can join any number of networks at once and content can be found via any number of networks, there is no practical limit. Networks used to be static. Now networks are fluid.
It’s interesting how much this speaks to education, and how far we need to go. We are still about control, not sharing. We are still about distribution, not aggregation. We are still about closed content rather than open. We are static, not fluid. The idea that each of our students can play a relevant, meaningful, important role in the context of these networks is still so foreign to the people who run schools. And yet, more and more, they are creating their own networks, sharing, aggregating, evolving to the disdain of the traditional model of schooling that is becoming more and more irrelevant.
The biggest problem is how few of our educators still cannot relate to this description. They are neither networks unto themselves or nodes of a larger system, and they understand little about what it means to be either in a world that is more globally interconnected. And our students are not only left without models of what it means to be networked, they also get relatively little content that is contextualized through the network. So network literacy, the functions of working in a distributed, collaborative environment (Jill Walker), is an important aspect of learning and education that precious few of our students get a chance to practice. And it is only by practicing these skills, whether teachers or students, that they can truly be learned.