Information, Communication and Technology for Emergence (ICT4E)– An Immersive Learning Community Blended with Virtual Worlds and Web 2.0

There is an urgent need to transform our educational ecosystems and address the rapid transformations occurring in our world, especially the crisis confronting our survival. Are these needs linked and can we address them together? Educators around the globe are discovering and embracing virtual worlds, such as Second Life, for immersing their students and reinvigorating their pedagogy with 21st Century Literacy’s and Learning Skills–But how do we make our classrooms immersive? What will it look like to shift our pedagogy from one based on teaching and specialties to one based on student centered learning– pluralistic, hyper-individual, eclectic, diverse, and emergent? ICT4 Emergence and the International Telecenter movement offers an opportunity to leverage this transformation.
I’d like to suggest a scenario for transforming our classrooms and learning institutions. We can achieve this by creating a learning community that blends the engaging and transformative power of virtual worlds, with immersion in practical hands-on experiential learning for sustainability and prosperity. Participating in a massively multiple on-line virtual world such as Second Life, or creating your own community specific virtual world through the open source community of Open Sim–educators are provided with an evolutionary step unparalleled in media ecology. Using social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and nings–free, open source platforms–global interaction and collaboration tools are available to every classroom, spurring innovation and emergence.
What I am suggesting is moving into a blended learning methodology that leverages the emergent technological platforms of the immersive internet–virtual worlds, web 2.0 and serious gaming–while addressing the urgent needs facing us as humans and as educators. Estimates are that world wide we will need to build a major university every day for the next 3 decades to accommodate the growing population and learning needs of our young. In that time span much, if not all, of the polar ice will have melted. Virtual worlds offer a 24/7/365 synchronous and asynchronous model of learning without the need for bricks and mortar. As for the bricks and mortar, these energy consumptive, water wasting, and unsustainable facilities offer the ideal laboratory to transform our learning applications into concrete, practical and life giving learning communities.
How then, do we transform our schools? Consider that the community is the curriculum: the whole systems which sustain the local biome– food, water, waste, energy, culture, government, the environment, the economy–are the topics we address, investigate and may redesign for a sustainable future. Apply systems thinking and ecological, synergistic practices to our curriculum. This is the vision of a design science formulated by Buckminster Fuller that sees nurturing our innate creative and design prowess as the answer to solving our dilemmas. By applying these techniques to the systems which sustain life, students are empowered with the tools and opportunities to transform their communities. In the process they develop the 21st Century Literacy’s so essential to their success and offer solutions to our most pressing global challenges.

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Polymorphus

Taking many shapes, morphing into multiple expressions of the same being–or even morphing your being. The Transformers. Shape shifters.

During my Stagecraft class Thursday: I discussed ‘dressing an electric,’ ‘dressing the stage,’ or ‘setting the legs’ –and I asked the class if they knew what I meant by ‘anthropromorphisizing’–well after blank stares and suggesting it might have something to do with anthropology, one female student said it had to do with ‘humans.’ I liked that, more correct that saying the study of man. So we discussed, briefly, this idea of turning inanimate objects into animated, humanized ones. Trying to bring an awareness of a mythopoetic consciousness onto the stage, seemd like a tangent i couldn’t easily return from. I like correct language, but even more I like the poetic liscence to make obtuse references in attempts to shatter the students comfort zone with language and ideas. In my pedagogy the paradox of intensive hands-on learning and encountering seemingly irrelevant ‘philosophical’ ideas goes hand in hand, sometimes foot to mouth–usually mine! But it all ties back together with the intentionally challenging idea that the ‘reality’ of the Tranformed Learning Community on the Dibden stage, is actually more ‘real’ than much else they encounter at college. The reason this is important is because of creativity and courage. As I explore the dynamics of the creative process in my pedagogy I return to the idea of the wholeness of the community in which this occurs. It feels like the elements of play and risk taking have to return to the process. So I am playful, I take risks in terms of ideas–most definitely not risk in terms of physicality–that can be left for outdoor ed.
Courage comes from confidence. But the infrastructure of skill and community, diversity and imagination have to be present. And it happens when these critical aspects of community coincide. This is the environment I seek to nurture. And if I wasn’t such an eclectic synthsizer I suppose I could leave it there. But for years I have imagined what if I could bring these many elements together in an emdodiment of a facility, or place/space? What if i could bring these seemingly diverse ideas into a practise combining the severed parts of academia and the modern western weltanshungen back into the living, breathing hope of our young? Well, I’m not just so naive to realize that I also must embody this myself. Walking the walk, talking the talk.
Which is why I’m blogging, among these other forays into web 2.0.

So if you, reader, have a good link to the use of images for self reflection–turn me on to it!