"The journey which started with the invention of the punch card for a loom to the development of personal computers and the internet we use today has changed the way we communicate and learn. Technology has been a catalyst driving innovations and the way we do things in our daily lives. Every aspect of our modern life is touched by technology. My life-long quest for learning and fascination with gadgets has fostered a need to learn more about new technologies."

Rosellen Bonney

Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Minds on Fire

Mind on Fire Critical Thinking Exercise, Week 4, Assignment 2

After reading the article Mind on Fire, I am happy to share some of my thoughts. Thank you for this learning opportunity. I found that the questions posed in this exercise helped me focus my sometimes wandering thoughts.

What are the educational implications of a "flat world" that Thomas Friedman coined?

The educational implications of a “flat world” have created a demand for a well-educated workforce that can easily access new skills at an ever increasing rate. Sir John Daniel (1996), points out a measure of this demand in his quote: “To meet this staggering demand, a major university needs to be created each week.”(p. 17). That is a huge predicament. Brown and Adler (2008) clarify the problem by stating that:

“It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to build enough new campuses to meet the growing global demand for higher education-at least not the sort of campuses that we have traditionally built for colleges and universities. Nor is it likely that the current methods of teaching and learning will suffice to prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the twenty-first century.” (p.18)

The statement above implies education systems need to make a drastic change in the way we teach and learn. What does this fact mean? It means that the traditional learning setting must expand its walls and make use of new technologies to meet the demand. Obviously, brick and mortar will not work here. The internet is just the right tool to use with its latest evolution to the read-write web or Web 2.0. (Brown and Adler (2008) p.18.)

What are some of the major initiatives the elite universities have undertaken to provide access to their curriculum and instruction to not only their students, but the world?

What are the implications in next five years as well as next 20 years?

Utilization of the Internet as a global platform Brown and Adler (2008) propose “has vastly expanded access to all sorts of resources, including formal and informal educational materials.” (p.18). Institutions have provided free access to resources through the Open Education Resources movement started by MIT in 2001, many other colleges and universities have followed suit. (p. 18.) Other initiatives include social networking sites, blogs, and wikis. Wikipedia has become a reliable source for accurate and easily verifiable resource materials as well as creating a forum for participatory learning opportunities. The Terra Incognita Project built by the University of Southern Queensland is another example of new initiatives in their virtual classroom on Second Life. (p. 20).

When I first reviewed Second Life a few months ago I discovered numerous universities, colleges, archives and libraries that use second life for distance learning and resources for students, educators and the general public. The internet has allowed for sharing of expensive equipment with students, scholars and educators through the e-Science movement. One example highlighted by Brown and Adler (2008) is “the Faulkes Telescope Project, sponsored by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.” (p. 24) Brown and Adler (2008) also describes “Hands-on Universe based at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley”. (p. 24). I am certain that there are even more examples now.

As more and more resources, archives, and high tech equipment becomes wired, digitized and internet accessible, I believe that anyone anywhere will be able to receive and send anything they want to learn and be able to study from anywhere that a wireless access point is using a cell phone or notebook. Now that’s exciting. I can see a much more collaborative open ended opportunity for students and educators to share and learn in a less didactic environment than I am familiar with, eliminating the walls of the traditional classroom. Education will become much more accessible to the world. Brown and Adler (2008) describes this phenomena:

“As more of learning becomes Internet-based, a similar pattern seems to be occurring. Whereas traditional schools offer a finite number of courses of study, the “catalog” of subjects that can be learned online is almost unlimited.” (p. 28)

Do you agree or disagree with the authors of this article that professional learning communities will be the next major frontier in education? Please justify your perspective.

Yes, I do agree with Brown and Adler. I combined my understanding of this enhanced learning opportunity with the next question. Teaching and learning with the use of technology is much more accessible than it has ever been before. “In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading.” (Brown and Adler (2008) p. 20)

According to Brown and Adler, how has the way students learn changed and therefore, what is learning 2.0?

I had to look this concept up for a better definition to clarify my thoughts:
Wikipedia defines a Professional Learning Community (PLC) as "extend... classroom practice into the community; bringing community personnel into the school to enhance the curriculum and learning tasks for students; or engaging students, teachers, and administrators simultaneously in learning." Richard Dufour, a recognized national expert in PLCs, finds that "To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than on teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results." The Ontario Ministry of Education defines a PLC as "a shared vision or running a school in which everyone can make a contribution, and staff are encouraged to collectively undertake activities and reflection in order to constantly improve their students’ performance." (p. 1)

Brown and Adler (2008) take this vision one step further when they state: “The web offers innumerable opportunities for students to find and join niche communities where they can benefit from the opportunities for distributed cognitive apprenticeship. Finding and joining a community that ignites a student’s passion can set the stage for the student to acquire both deep knowledge about a subject (“learning about”) and the ability to participate in the practice of a field through productive inquiry and peer-based learning (“learning to be”). These communities are harbingers of the emergence of a new form of technology enhanced learning-Learning 2.0-which goes beyond providing free access to traditional course materials and educational tools and creates a participatory architecture for supporting communities of learners.” (p. 28) Technology enhanced learning or Learning 2.0 is defined above.

I think PLC’s are the wave of the future and seem to me to be a much better way to acquire true knowledge. PLC’s allow for mentoring and new opportunities for educators, students and the world to share substantive content leading to deep understanding and true acquisition of knowledge. I liked the graphic presented in Brown and Adler’s (2008) article:

Retrieved May, 2010 from (p. 28)
Great concept Create, Use, Remix.

More and more educational resources are becoming available on the web. In what ways does the access to computers and broadband Internet for every student become an equality issue? i.e. Two students enter high school. One has a laptop with wireless Internet access at home while the other has neither. Is there a fundamental disadvantage? Explain.

Yes, there is a fundamental disadvantage. The access to computers and broadband Internet for every student cannot be overlooked or underestimated. There is a definite disadvantage to the student who does not have access to technology at home. More and more resources are being digitized and made available online each day, without access this effort will miss a lot of learners. There is a movement here in California to put text books online, it’s a good idea, but there are still many that do not have reliable internet connections or up to date equipment to use. A student without access to resources cannot fully participate in a world where the use and advantages presented by the online environment are not readily available. In rural areas of California many places do not even have basic internet or cell phone service. Somehow this dilemma must be addressed and a solution found to equal the educational playing field. Infrastructure needs to be built, computers need to be made accessible and the dollars must be found to make this a reality.


Brown, J. S. & Adler, R. P. (2008, January/February). Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review.

Professional learning communities, Wikipedia retrieved May, 2010 from.

No comments:

Post a Comment