I escape one enclosure to find that I am in another larger enclosure.
It is the image of a Russian doll.
I have been spending much time reflecting on my place on the web, on the earth over the past few years.
I have recently been working my way through issues connected to the 'Reclaim your domain' movement.
I am struck by the 'self-proclaimed' impassioned pleas of Howard Rheingold and Gardner Campbell to build the web that we want to build.
I am convinced that they are putting their fingers on a burning issue which we need to work through.
An immediate reaction to the question of 'Reclaiming your domain' was expressed in my post of the same name.
I feel that we can not divorce our thinking about the 'web' space with our thinking about the physical spaces in which we relate locally.
One lens which has helped me think about role of technology in education has been Puentedura's SAMR model as presented by Doug Belshaw here:
There is a short presentation in this video
I remark that the narrator in this video talks about 'the classroom' - transformation of the classroom.
I can't help thinking that the 'classroom' lens is one which stops us thinking through a wider transformation of education.
There is no question that mobile web-enabled personal devices are disrupting 'classrooms' and 'educational institutions'.
Of the obstacles to building new models, we can note 'habitus' of teachers, the 'classroom discourse', we can mention 'standardised assessment' amongst others.
The real question is what are these boundaries obstacles to?
Who or what is protected by boundaries which have been built physically or virtually?
Who stands to gain from crumbling frontiers, from blurring of boundaries between work and play?
As a child I never imagined seeing the Berlin Wall fall.
I remember witnessing the moments of joy when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.
What were we witnessing in these moments? How were once disconnected people connected?
I remember using the image of the Trabant to talk about the contrast between Walled Gardens of the LMS/VLE and the construction of Personal Learning Environments enhanced by Web 2.0 applications and Google cloud computing.
Institutional enforcement of the use of out-dated communication tools was, I reasoned an obstacle to the learning of the students.
It wasn't just an obstacle to the learning of students, it was also a means to protect the positions of a technological elite, who had the power to dictate the tools to be used.
Outsourcing of net hosting and institutional virtual environments would/will inevitably mean de-skilling, cost-cutting measures and dependence on massive corporations.
The Trabant disappeared from production, replaced by Western-made models. It's disappearance was symbolic of the defeat of a political system and its socio-economic elite.
There is no doubt that learning spaces in which I am working are being transformed physically and virtually by the possibilities to connect more widely via affinity with people around the world.
This is exciting, we are moving towards a new era, of that I have no doubt.
I am constantly brought back to my image of Russian dolls.
We can not concentrate our attention simply on education without seeing how it relates to economic, ecological, social, and political contexts.
One thinker who has helped me reflect more widely on Learning Futures has been Keri Facer.
'Non-stupid optimism' is an expression which resonates for me and 'educated hope' is what I aspire to.
Hope and power
As educators we do have real power to enable sustainable change, we must realise together we do have real power, we do have a voice, which can be heard, the young are our hope.
I come back to 'Reclaiming my domain', again and again.
I am quite happy with the idea of running my own server.
I am quite happy with the idea of building my own WordPress space with a name of my own.
I would however not want to stop there.
When I hear, we can build the net together, are we speaking about building our own computers?
Are we speaking about running our own cables?
Are we speaking about becoming our own ISP's?
Building our web is one thing.
Building relationships locally with those globally is quite another.
How does all of this relate to the bigger questions of society as evoked by Keri Facer?
How do we react to writers such as Douglas Rushkoff?
“Our enthusiasm for digital technology about which we have little understanding and over which we have little control leads us not toward greater agency, but toward less...We have surrendered the unfolding of a new technological age to a small elite who have seized the capability on offer. But while Renaissance kings maintained their monopoly over the printing press by force, today's elite is depending on little more than our own disinterest.”
Is this what Howard Rheingold and Gardner Campbell are talking about?
If this is the case, then we need to start thinking much more widely about the societies in which we are living, and how power is structured.
We need to think through what these Connected Courses are really preparing us for?
We need to ask our friends:
What it is we are working towards?
We need to spend much time on this business of building new relationships with ourselves and others.
We can not expect to embark on new relationships without accepting that our relationships with ourselves will inevitably be transformed.
New environments require new language.
I can not conceive that this map is 'our territory'.
Do others consider that they own this?
Might 'owning your own domain' be an outdated metaphor?
Maybe we need to start thinking over our ideas of what constitutes 'ownership' of what constitutes 'capital'.
How can 'capital' be other than social?
What are we educating ourselves for?
I am only too aware of my ignorance, of my inability to find answers for my questions.
We must educate ourselves beyond our 'stupid optimism' to build a web of 'educated hope.'
What will be our legacy my friends?
I am at a loss for words.
And as I ask one question, another appears, incessantly...