Toward the Integral Internet

The Cluetrain ManifestoTwelve years ago, I was sparked by The Cluetrain Manifesto, a prescient book by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger. This is from the introduction:

What if the real attraction of the Internet is not its cutting-edge bells and whistles, its jazzy interface or any of the advanced technology that underlies its pipes and wires? What if, instead, the attraction is an atavistic throwback to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales? Five thousand years ago, the marketplace was the hub of civilization, a place to which traders returned from remote lands with exotic spices, silks, monkeys, parrots, jewels — and fabulous stories.

In many ways, the Internet more resembles an ancient bazaar than it fits the business models companies try to impose upon it. Millions have flocked to the Net in an incredibly short time, not because it was user-friendly — it wasn’t — but because it seemed to offer some intangible quality long missing in action from modern life. In sharp contrast to the alienation wrought by homogenized broadcast media, sterilized mass “culture,” and the enforced anonymity of bureaucratic organizations, the Internet connected people to each other and provided a space in which the human voice would be rapidly rediscovered.

So, if Web 1.0 was the “published Web” and The Cluetrain Manifesto predicted what was to become the “social Web” (Web 2.0), I believe the next iteration, Web 3.0, will be the “Integral Internet,” where the noosphere of virtual knowledge gets better and better at interacting with fundamental human needs, values, and experiences.

Web 1.0 was “It.” We consumed what was delivered to us and our value to the marketplace was measured with demographics and psychographics.

Web 2.0 was “Us.” Now, we could easily create and share our own media with friends and strangers alike, and marketers measured our worth via the social graph of our connections.

Web 3.0 simply “is.” The deepest Integral Internet interacts with the realm of spirit, of breath. We breathe ideas and experiences, and the Internet carries them and amplifies them to others, no matter where they are. See how fast collective experience flows around the world through Twitter and Facebook. As devices become more powerful, more ubiquitous, and more miniaturized, the boundary between virtual and physical will become even more permeable. The Internet itself begins to breathe.

We’re moving toward an era of the hyper-global and the hyper-local. Joyce wrote, “In the particular is contained the universal.” Through our nearest neighbors and neighborhoods — indeed by becoming more present within ourselves — we can experience the universe more deeply.

“Here” and “away” are being inverted for our children. “Exploring” no longer means going to a new part of the world physically first, for we can learn as much through Wikipedia, Google Earth, and local blogs, than we ever used to through travelling as tourists. The greatest unknown to be explored is now within us, the mysteries of who we are: the “who” that sees the world through our particular eyes.

In the past, gatekeepers were required to intermediate our experience of the world — mostly due to less powerful technologies like papyrus and illustrated manuscripts and printing presses. They are no longer needed. We can now experience the universe more directly through the noosphere (Web 3.0, the Integral Internet) and within ourselves.

So, good bye to recorded media production conglomerates, corporate news paper delivery systems, educational institutions that glorify the life of the mind at the expense of the heart and spirit, arbitrary national governments created for stage-coach era communication.

We set our life priorities based on how we see the world. We now have new priorities for new worldviews. Perhaps we can protect that world so our children may steward it with deeper awareness and respect.

This is one of my presentations from 2009. Still relevant.

Toward learner-centered education in Canada

IT4K12 logoI was honored to make a keynote presentation at British Columbia’s first IT4K12 conference in Vancouver this week. I met many education technology leaders who are working toward a learner-centered education system, and several demonstrated inspiring successes.

I also met Robert Martellacci of the e-learning technology consultancy Mind Share Learning; be sure to listen to his excellent interview with Susan Mann, CEO, Education Services Australia.

Through Robert, I learned more about the C21 initiative: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation which recently brought together 50 leaders from across Canada to “discuss their ideas on 21st Century learning and the changes needed to move the country’s educational system forward.”

The president of C21Canada is John Kershaw, former Deputy Minister of Education for New Brunswick.

Ken Robinson on passionate learning

Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson by Sebastiaan ter Burg

early career focused on bringing more arts education into British schools and from there he became an internationally known authority on the value and power of creativity. He’s advised governments around the world on arts education and innovation…

Robinson challenged the audience to create schools that are more personal and give students rein to explore topics that match their aptitude and passions. Too many people don’t like their jobs, and it shouldn’t be that way, Robinson said. “If you’re doing something you love, an hour feels like five minutes,” he said.

Continue reading

Fourth graders play the World Peace Game

John Hunter
John Hunter

John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

Musician, teacher, filmmaker and game designer, John Hunter has dedicated his life to helping children realize their full potential. His own life story is one of a never-ending quest for harmony. As a student, he studied comparative religions and philosophy while traveling through Japan, China and India. In India, inspired by Ghandi’s philosophy, he began to think about the role of the schoolteacher in creating a more peaceful world. Continue reading

10 years of laptops in Maine schools

[In 2001] Maine legislators approved — after months of doubt and debate — Gov. Angus King’s proposal to give every seventh-grader in Maine a laptop….

Maine laptop program
Ten years later, each seventh- and eighth-grader in Maine public schools and every grades 7-12 teacher has a laptop paid for by state taxpayers, at an annual cost of $11 million. And, through the Maine Department of Education, 60 percent of Maine high-schoolers have laptops, paid for by local property taxpayers. That’s a total of 72,000 laptops, according to the DOE…. Continue reading

New York Times: Let kids rule the school

From the New York Times:

I recently followed a group of eight public high school students, aged 15 to 17, in western Massachusetts as they designed and ran their own school within a school. They represented the usual range: two were close to dropping out before they started the project, while others were honors students. They named their school the Independent Project.

One student who had failed all of his previous math courses spent three weeks teaching the others about probability. Another said: “I did well before. But I had forgotten what I actually like doing.” They have all returned to the conventional curriculum and are doing well. Two of the seniors are applying to highly selective liberal arts colleges.

The students in the Independent Project are remarkable but not because they are exceptionally motivated or unusually talented. They are remarkable because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience, when they learn things that matter to them and when they learn together. In such a setting, school capitalizes on rather than thwarts the intensity and engagement that teenagers usually reserve for sports, protest or friendship.

Edutopia: Portland principal promotes collaborative culture

Mike McCarthy is principal at King Middle School in Portland, Maine.

From Edutopia:

McCarthy transformed a culture of divisiveness and violence by committing to cooperation and innovation.

McCarthy: “The genius of this school is not in a program, it’s not in the laptops, it’s in the learning. It’s in teachers designing learning that they know will work for kids … and they have the space and the time and the autonomy to do it.”

Reflecting on the tapestry of small-town life

Some years back, Julia Alarez wrote an ode to living in small towns and to the sorrow of losing acquaintances: neighbors, friends, storekeepers, doctors.

In a small town … we don’t just make quick, specialized appearances in each other’s lives. For better or worse, we get to know people in a fuller way. The owner of the orchard where we pick apples is also our doctor, and the local bartender fixes our bicycle chain when it slips out on a country road.

This is good for all our characters, I think, for the flawed person we see in one situation can suddenly surprise us by a small act of kindness or thoughtfulness in another encounter. Small towns give us second chances, and third and fourth ones, too. [Source]

Once or twice a week, I spend early mornings in our town’s natural-food-and-free-wireless coffee shop working on project planning and correspondence. Over the months, I’ve gotten to know a few regulars — folks who work nearby, retired professors, college students — and listened to bits of stories about their lives and what’s important to them.

Over the past month, I’ve been busy on a project and haven’t gotten into town very often, so this morning, when I noticed I hadn’t seen one of the regulars, I asked where he was. “Oh, Gustavo. I’m sorry to let you know he died in his sleep several weeks ago.”

All of my thoughts — about what needed to get done this morning, about my pending deadlines, about the beautiful day I was looking forward to — evaporated completely. Someone I’d known, not as a friend, but certainly well enough to know his life story and what had brought him here … he was gone.

How could I not have known? I read the local paper every day. How did I miss his obituary? Have I been that busy? Did he mean more to me that I’d thought? Had I taken his presence for granted?

I found the obituary and tributes online — please read about this good man — and there they were, in black and white: the stories he’d told us. I haven’t wept in public for a long time. This morning, I did.

I could write about the art collection he curated at home and the beloved pieces he chose to sell at Cabot Antiques. I could share his frustration with the insulated, disconnected culture of middle-America, and its affect on our children as well as people around the world. I could tell you about his continuing struggle to get treatment for his asthma and sinus infections as a person dependent on the threadbare safety net for our elders. I could tell about his plans to sign up for yet another trip to some corner of the world that would be new to him.

Instead, I’ll quote this passage about his engagement with the world, both nearby and far beyond us.

made the coffee shop in the Tontine Mall his own Madrid cafe and met there nearly every day with a circle of friends, exchanging ideas and arguing issues. He supported various causes, local, national and international. But he was also a man who loved exploration away from Maine.

His youthful energy belied his advancing years. He was full of curiosity about life and interested in what was going on in the world. His friends and family followed his world travels to China, South American and Europe through post cards and pictures. [Source]

I sit, looking around the cafe, imagining the loss of any of those with whom I’ve chatted, no matter how briefly, or of those with whom I’ve shared just a warm smile and hello. As I return to my daily routine, I vow to consider each and every one of those moments with more respect, deserving of my full attention, with both friends and with strangers.

I’ll hope I can carry that feeling with me. I think all I’ll need to do is remember Gustavo.

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

From TED Talks:

Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education — the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching. Continue reading

The rise of K-12 blended learning

From Michael Horn, Innosight Institute:

Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance- learning phenomenon no longer is. Most of the growth is occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. Continue reading