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Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls*

October 1, 2010

One night last week, I had a bad dream. I got a new laptop, but the ability to search for information was taken away. I would open up my browser and there was no address field in which to type a URL. No Google! No Bing! No Favorites. It was all gone.

On the side of the “home page” there were several links that I could follow to get access to information that others thought was important for me to have. But I had no control over my information. No control over what I wanted to learn about. Everything was controlled by others. There was no Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. I had no social network.

It made me think about how easy it is to access and share information today. This week while traveling in Pittsburgh, my colleagues and I wanted to find out if the airport had an Admirals club. Out came two iPhones, an iPad and a Blackberry. It was like a contest, who could find the answer first?  Joe won on his iPhone. There is no Admiral’s Club in Pittsburgh’s airport.

Today’s kids and young adults have always known about the internet. Instant, and sometimes constant, access to information and friends is the norm.

When I was in Junior High in 1968-1969, if I asked how to spell a word, I was told to go look it up in the dictionary. Writing a report meant cracking a book. When I prepared a report on science, history or geography, I would start with the 29 volume set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia in my family living room. Social networking was sitting around a bonfire in the back pasture of a friend’s farm. The closest thing I had to text messaging was when I would pass a note to my BFF in the hall between classes.

The dream and my reflection after waking up really made me think about the future of learning…Learn 2.0 (or Learn 2020). Learners decide and control the learning. They have access to rich content, virtual worlds, resources, and experts to facilitate the learning process. The emphasis is on collaborative learning where learners are free to experiment and share their knowledge with the community.

* Catch-phrase from the TV Show “Laugh In” which aired on NBC from 1968 to 1973.

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