Machines won't Replace You, Communities Will

Last Friday I had the pleasure of Skyping into a school in Singapore to talk about my TEDx Talk I did back in September. The principal showed it to his staff and then invited me in via Skype to answer questions. I got into a conversation with one teachers about whether I believed that teachers would be replaced by machines. That, according to him, teaching is the second oldest profession in the world behind prostitution and that as long as we have been “human” there have always been teachers and no machine will ever replace that.  I stopped for a moment, smiles and then said something along these lines: By Flickr ID: awesomerealm I agree with you…we’re not going to be replaced by machines, but individual teachers will, I believe, be replaced by communities of learners. In those communities everyone will be a teacher and everyone will be a learner. We might not even distinguish between them. Once students and schools figure out they can learn, what they want to learn, when they want to learn, in always on, always supporting communities then the day of the stand and teach teacher is over. We’re already seeing kids form these communities. There isn’t a video game created today that does not help support a community around it. In fact video game makers have the right approach. You create something really difficult…you let people go at it for awhile trying to solve the problem and then you give a “secret hint” or a “cheat”. Which was built into the game to help hold peoples attention and to help the community get stronger. Everyone sharing cheats, secrets, and talking about the game is a learning community. There are teachers, there are learners, but nobody identifies themselves as such because they are learning something they are passionate about and honestly nobody cares what your age is, where you’re from or what level you’re stuck on. They’re just there to help and learn. Sure not every subject a student takes in school is going to be their passion (although I think we should get there). But that’s not to say that students still would not choose, if given the choice, to join the community they want to learn from. Who says that this teacher and this group of kids that you are tied to physically is your group? Is your best learning community? They might be, but that...

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Networked Thinking

All three of my presentation here at ETC09 continue to hit on the point of creating a PLN you can trust and find ways to use. It’s so powerful…..but it’s hard to explain just how powerful of a learning tool it is without having people really get in there and get their hands dirty. So today I found a new use for my PLN. Every time I try something this like I’m amazed at the help and response I continue to receive from educators around the world who are willing to jump and help out at the drop of a hat. So here’s the story of today: Although Borneo is amazing their Internet connection is…well…should we say inconsistent and slow. It’s up and down, completely unreliable, and frustrating to say the least. The one service that seems to run without fail is Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s the small packet size or what but Twitter continues to run while the rest of the web comes to a screeching halt (I never that we’d see that happen!). So this morning I’m preparing for my presentation and go to edit the wiki page I had created for my “Digital Tools for Digital Educators” session. The Internet was running really slow and with only two hours to go before my presentation I was getting worried that I wouldn’t have anything preloaded. So I used the one tool that worked….Twitter. I sent out a call to anyone with a good Internet connection to please go and add a must have tool for educators. An hour later I have enough tools to fill my 90 minute session and then some. Complete with YouTube how-to videos, examples of use in the classroom, and much more. http://etc2009.wetpaint.com/page/Digital+Tools Now I’m part of this network, and I understand that this is exactly how it’s suppose to work, but it still amazes me! I started my presentation today in a room of 50+ educators by thanking educators around the world who two hours before had just created my presentation. I talked about how this came to be and just how amazing this was going to be that these 50 people were actually being taught by teachers around the world…..I just happened to be the voice for them all. It was great to see people coming up to a whiteboard that was in the room and writing down the...

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