Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Age of the Unprecedented

Haven't we always lived in an age of the unprecedented?  With all due respect to Lewis Perelman, it seems that, while virtually everything we know is new, and technologies are morphing at a remarkable pace, this has always been true.  There has always been an evolution of learning and development and change.  The speed of these changes is relative.  Generations throughout time have watched in amazement as technologies have provided more than people ever dreamed possible - first to a select sector, and then to the common individual.  Perhaps the uniqueness of this generation's developments have been that, among the improvements have been vast advancements in global communication, making it possible for all to see (and participate in) the newest developments as they occur.  
Under the premise of the Lifelong Learning article, if such notions of limiting learning to schools and children, and a willingness to settle for mediocrity exist, it is small wonder that the National Education Act of 2015 will have come to pass!  [For such an Act to succeed, with competition among its most important foundational components, the design and function of teachers' unions will necessarily be altered in order for government-run educational enterprises to continue to compete successfully in this new educational marketplace.  While this paper suggests obliteration of the public education system as we know it, one is caused to wonder if this is a realistic possibility - given the influence of local and national teachers' unions.]
While it is certainly true that mediocre models of teaching are tolerated, and that some (many?) are content to relegate learning to institutions and finite time frames, that cannot be the context within which most are comfortable.  If it were, would the thirst for knowledge that has led great minds to pursue the next uncharted territory have been quietly quenched, and would the rest of us be satisfied in following to that realm as a point of completion?

Far from mediocre, the Phoenix Odyssey appears to provide a student-centered concept for lifelong learning.  This program, outlined in a paper written in 1993, must have seemed outside the realm of reality to the reader at that time.  Even now, one questions the possibility of such a program, both generally and with regard to its touted services!  Does this model truly offer the Nordstrom's customer service approach, or will it simply provide a representative that knows your profile?  It claims to "coordinate all your learning needs... skills, knowledge, social, and emotional".  How can this be accomplished?  While the personal hologram guide clearly provides a wonderful tool that makes learning come alive, it is merely a hologram.  It is virtual reality, not really reality; it is a hologram, not a sufficient replacement for social and emotional learning.
The reading was interesting and provocative.  Envisioning learning in the Phoenix Odyssey model provides fascinating possibilities... In conjunction with the project that we are developing, it opens so many doors of potential to consider!  Lifelong learning, complete with holograms and learning facilitators, connection to a global network of resources, and a commitment to client success are among its key marketing ingredients.  Understandably so.
Implications for our group projects are indicative of the delicate balance between embracing technology without losing sight of the human dynamic.  How do we remain visionary while maintaining our humanity?  Can we facilitate forward thinking and positive change, while simultaneously ensuring that the human element is central to the vision?  It is clear that we must.    

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