“A third of all American adults own a smartphone and for many minority and low income users, those mobile devices have replaced computers for Internet access.” So beings an article in today’s Washington Post. As usual, education is overlooked in the discussion — yet from the facts in the article the implications for engaging students in knowledge rattle the foundation of education as we know it. And that is a beautiful thing.
Those groups who are most under-served by schools today are carrying the world’s knowledge in their pocket — accessible there through their smartphone’s web browser. Minority and low income kids have not been lavished at home with cool PCs (in the olden days of the 1990s) and laptops (more recently). Their internet access has too often been in dysfunctional school computer labs where their online time has been limited or nonexistent — and controlled by curriculum and filters.
Of those who solely rely on smartphones to surf the Web, most are minorities, younger than 30 and have low incomes. They’ve found mobile devices as a suitable replacement for buying expensive computers and paying DSL or cable modem bills every month. . . . Cable and DSL remain faster, but that difference may not be big enough to justify their high costs for some consumers.
The implications here are global, and the trends are breathtaking serendipity. Here are the big steps as they have happened:
The internet began.
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web (the web) in which anything can be connected to anything.
Experts have been pouring everything known into the web for nearly 20 years.
Cellphones have morphed into smartphones.
Smartphones have web browsers — so everything known can be looked at by their owners.
AND NOW –
The smartphones are proving the cheaper, and thus preferred web access.
Minority, low income, and young users are carrying smartphones.
And, best of all, knowledge delivered through those smartphones is post racial!
One of the big, simple, marvelous truths about the future of global learning is that knowledge itself will be post racial.
Post racial knowledge is not dollops of parts of subjects measured to form standards for the average student in a school or state or nation. Post racial knowledge resources for learning are not tailored to kids expected to learn not so much — as happens routinely in inner city public schools. Post racial knowledge is not conformed to a particular religion. Post racial knowledge is not designed to teach students to be loyal to a tribal chief or to support a nation’s tyrant.
Yet almost never considered in the schooling milieu is that fact that what can be learned has become readily available online at little or no cost students. A wonderful aspect of this ready access of knowledge to learn is that the experience is post racial when a student uses online sources. The internet, and the mobile online browsers kids around the world increasing use, have no idea who is holding a connective device in his or her hand.
The learner has no need to tell the device who his daddy is. The expectations for each learner are just the same if he or she is a Harvard grad student, a projects resident in the Bronx, or a small gnome from Neptune.
Judy Breck, is convinced that:
“everything begins with the smallest unit, the individual. Like microlearning: ideas, meaning, and appropriate political action networks emerge as the patterning of micro nodes. Individual sovereignty is the unalienable civil right of each person.
The mobile computer can deliver what is known by humankind to each human node — each micro unit. The mobile device, unlike many school and social settings and networks, liberates the individual. The mobile device does not know or care about your color, eyes, or who is your daddy.”