Day 3 and final day of the main conference for Building Learning Communities. Without sounding cliche....it truly is a conference that builds communities. I have presented/attended/facilitated many conferences over the years and I have to say that this conference felt like a true community....more than any I have attended.
Last night we (pretty much all attendees from the conference) went on a 3 hour dinner cruise on the ship - Spirit of Boston . Great cruise, great food, and great company.
This morning was Dr. Yong Zhao from Michigan State University. His presentation was Digital Citizenship in a Global Economy: The Internet Revolution and Its Implications for Education and in the true sense of the global economy, Dr. Zhao discussed global opinions/concepts in his presentation that pushed your thinking in what you feel about traditional education and the relationship between technology and education.
He stated that "technology redefines talent" - those who can climb the stairs and those who can't.
Being able to put everything into "digits" is where the power is now. Countries are now attacking one another in digital wars. More and more people are socializing virtually and making a virtual living that is converting to physical dollars (such as linden dollars in SecondLife that convert to US dollars).
Virtual sweatshops have become a problem in developing countries. many kids are being kept in online gaming factories (70 people hunched over computers...killing monsters and racking up points). Usually work 12 hour shifts and only earning $70 - $150 dollars/month. In China 100,000 people working in these online gaming factories. Factories often operate in secret. Some as young as 16...mostly men...only last 2 - 3 months but some last as long as 2 years. Many software companies are realizing what is happening with their software and becoming extremely upset that their software is being used for this.
Some articles on Virtual Sweatshops:
On the positive...we know that anyone now has the potential to publish their work Dr. Zhao gave a great example of the Chinese Backstreet Boys that have shown up on YouTube....they have become instantly famous by recording their lip synch of the boy band's song.
Hackers and thieves we know the power of what an 18 year old (or younger) person can do with some knowledge and tools. They can bring down large corporations and reign havoc throughout the world with created viruses.
Global integration.....global free flow....goods (your clothes are made from all over the world. ie: Walmart can't claim made in America anymore), people (you can access anybody anywhere in the world and you can contract people to do work for you online from anywhere in the world), money (do you know where your investments are anymore? With a push of the button trading is anywhere.
Our students are affected by global forces, cultural clashes, and different value systems. What kind of talents and attitudes should we breed?
Today, China imports about 400,000 experts....there is a global exchange for talents and a definite market for these people.
- identities: nationalism, virtual, and physical (what is patriotic? chinese workers for microsoft...loyal to microsoft or china?)
- global reach (our students...future students...will be in the workforce in 5, 10, 15 years...what will happen then? As soon as they are online they have a global reach. They have access to people who behave different and believe in different things. How will they react?)
- returning to the agricultural mode of production? (going back to individualism...being your own boss. Huge increase in self-employment in the US. Have your own company and outsource employees from around the world. Children from very young age can produce in the true economical age....the farming age (kids can help with planting, animals, etc...)
- accept the role of the machines (today we have not been able to accept the idea that computers can do things as well if not better than humans. We still think education is a human industry and all computers are just tools. We apologize sometimes when we use computers. Plenty of research that computers can do certain things better or as well as human beings. But not all of them. We have to rethink how to change this.