School Versus World

Hazel is either 1 or 7 years old

I calculate that technology generally moves into the world of education in dog years - give it about 7 years for widespread acceptance and usage. It's not that you can (or should) use the application of new technologies in the commercial world as a gauge for what we should be doing in education, but schools certainly lag behind industry and home users in adopting and adapting technology.

Large screen TV monitors were in homes and conference rooms before classrooms. (I know that a lot of you are saying you still don't have them!) I had the Internet at home before I had it in my K-12 classroom and broadband before the school had a fast connection. Even when the school bought the first VHS recorder, it was to play tapes not to create content.

So as we continue to see tools like wikis and virtual worlds get traction in the world outside schools, I have confidence that schools will slowly start to catch the wave

Two new wiki examples that I have found center around television programs. The popular Survivor program has a wiki, and the newer Heroes has a wiki about "the mythology, the symbols, the characters, and more." This is not a money-making site (yet) but a marketing tool like MTV in virtual worlds that builds viewer interest, involvement and loyalty.

I also read recently an article on InfoWorld called "Searching for Intellectual Property" about using open source software by Harper Mann. Though it's a piece about IP, what interested me was his take on wikis, forums and social networking.

You can certainly use copyright laws to protect stuff you write. The problem is the technical data you write is in a static document with a shelf life of a few months at best. IP is only interesting in a live relationship to the technology and the people working with the technology.

This is why Wiki is important. That's why forums are important. Technical people won't use books more than 2 years old, and often less. IP won't sit still. You need people for this. This is a permanent situation. The people have to provide updated to keep up with the changes. It's time to "think differently" about IP. You need blogs and Wikis and forums maintained daily by not only the companies engineers but, as importantly, the customers who are on the front line for IP. Technical IP is a relationship, not some static "thing."

I have written several times here about Second Life & virtual worlds and some colleges are using them, but it's not widespread and certainly hasn't entered the very easily frightened world of K-12.

A ComputerWorld story discusses big corporate presences in SL. Those companies are Cisco, Reuters, Best Buy Geek Squad, Dell, Sun, and Pontiac.

IBM is using 24 SL islands (not all are open to the public) and has over 200 employees involved in its virtual efforts. They are using some to showcase their products and services. IBM is also investing $100 million in real dollars to get companies to exhibit their ideas. One example showcase is a Circuit City store where users can try out (in an admittedly limited way) cameras, TVs and other electronics. IBM is also considering providing design services for other companies that want a virtual SL place.

That's the adopt portion. In the adapt part, they are meeting privately with clients to consider virtual marketing ideas. Some mentioned: a grocer selling items virtually and delivering them to the real world; companies wanting to do employee training in virtual spaces (as IBM is using their space for R&D staffs around the world, and experimenting with user interfaces for virtual environments.


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