The world isn’t flat anymore, it fits entirely in your hand.

I dropped into my reader this morning and started to read Jeff Jarvis’ (Blog, Twitter) latest post, Mobile=Local and the second paragraph really caught my attention:

The biggest battlefield is local and mobile (I combine them because soon, local will mean simply wherever you are now). That’s why Google is in the phone business and the mapping business and why it is working hard to let us search by speaking or even by taking pictures so we don’t have to type while walking or driving.

I don’t know about you, but it occurs to me that this idea should have a major impact on rethinking school. I say “should” because not only is the whole of education meandering into the 21st century to see how it works, even the pockets that are attempting to race forward are realistically moving at a mere jog (Check out: Yoda on learning, “You must on learn what you have learned.“). This is more evidence that what we call school is not a place that will prepare students to create their future. This future will be a place where their learning can be carried around in their pockets.

I don’t know about you, but my mind races when I read Jarvis’ paragraph above. What if my high school or university classroom is mobile? Where can I go and still teach (be connected to) my students? At the elementary level (a place where a classroom would still constitute a “base of operations” for teacher and students) where can my students and I go to discover and learn? The idea of mobile learning lends itself perfectly to the process of learning by doing. School can finally become a verb.

The paragraph provides so many questions to play with:

  • What will school look like for the connected student if local does come to refer to where ever you happen to be?
  • Will school become a year round reality as students are able to access work, teacher/professor presentations anywhere, anytime?
  • What will this do to University enrollment models if mobile/local shortens the distance between me and my school to nothing regardless of where I am on the globe?
  • Will classroom options, like Second Life, be the way students and teachers come together?

Why would I not be able to “attend” any university I desire? Currently I can complete whole courses from MIT, Yale, UC Berkley, Harvard, Duke, Emery, Columbia  all available at iTunes University, and others for free and anywhere I have a connected device. How will Universities design an accountability model so they can begin to defer degrees to anyone who completes the work?

Rethinking school just received its communique from the future and the parameters are changing faster than ever. Time to take a leap.

The world isn’t flat anymore, it just shrunk, now it fits entirely in your hand . . . the world is local.

Additional Reading:

Ani & the iPad or ‘Much Madness is the Father’s Curse” by Bud Hunt (Blog, Twitter) at Bud the Teacher

A Is for App: How Smartphones, Handheld Computers Sparked an Educational Revolution” by Anya Kamenetz (Twitter) at Fast Company

The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash.” by Charlie Stross (Blog) at Charlie’s Diary

Photo Credits:

Businessmen with laptop: pragyahira on Flickr

Classroom outside: JPhilipson on Flickr


One thought on “The world isn’t flat anymore, it fits entirely in your hand.

Add yours

  1. Greg,

    I agree with your assertion of the importance and value of mobile technologies when it comes to academics, but I think we also need to take this idea a step further. I frequently question how we can make it an advantage to “be local”. My brother owns an electric company. He will always have work. Therefore, there is value in him being local…sort of. He is 36 years old and didn’t have an e-mail address until a couple of years ago. Interestingly enough, he now carries a blackberry everywhere and is always on it answering e-mails and responding to customers concerns. He has become local in the traditional sense as well as the idea you conveyed above. It just increases his speed and productivity. THIS is what we need to start getting our kids to think about. Not just that they can take classes from anywhere in the world, but that they need to begin thinking about this issue sooner rather than later. They need to develop ways to be local physically and virtually so that they can manipulate markets and provide viable services.

    Much of this seems convoluted, but that is the world we now live in. It can be a flat world, mobile world, or micro world. One way or another, there is a new thinking process that kids need to understand in order to be successful. That’s going to be the critical piece of their education in the future.


    Aaron Eyler

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