Before you go on reading this post, consider checking out Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat”.
“When Columbus set sail, he apperently assumed the Earth was round ….” (Freidman, p.4) An American journailst Thomas Freidman, however, after his first trip to India told his wife, “Honey, I think the world is flat.” And in his book he takes us to a histroical journey during which the earth has flattened and like him, most of us were most probably “asleep” while that was happening. (You can listen to Thomas Friedman explaining the flattenng of the world himself here).
Friedman, then describes the 10 forces which according to him flattened the world: 11/9/89, 8/9/95, Work Flow Software, Open-Sourcing, Outsourcing, Offshoring, Supply-chaining, Insourcing, In-forming and the Steroids. I would recommend reading the whole book and about all the flatteners because those do give an insight on where we are now as human beings and how we reached here. The book also begins a pretty comprehensive discussion about “glocalization” and globalization and the advantages and disadvantages of those.
In this post though I would like to focus on two of those flatteners: In-forming and Steroids. As my blog is more about technology in the classroom we will talk today about the flatteners which are affecting how the teaching and learning processes are happening “in the flat world”. In Friedman’s own words, “in-forming is a new way of collaboration through Google, Yahoo and MSN Web Search”. Can any of us imagine their life today without these search engines? Most probably, no. Google has answers to almost all of our questions. As teachers and as learners we “inform” ourselves everyday by searching topics on the Internet. Due to this systems almost all the information, world knowledge is now available to anyone with a computer and internet connection in just few seconds. Building on Freidman’s idea, we could say that through the in-forming process teacher-learner, teacher-teacher and learner-learner communications have changed drastically. “In-forming is about self-collaboration-becoming your own self-directed and self-empowered researcher, editor, and selector of entertainment, without having to go the library…” (Friedman, p. 153) Every day more and more people connect to this flat space of information and knowledge seeking and every day more and more people connect to each other, build communities to learn together, to teach, to collaborate.
Together with all this comes the 10th flattener, The Steroids which are “new technologies that make everything digitial, mobile, virtual and personal”. How have they flattened the learning process? Virtual classrooms, file sharing possibilities, ebooks, podcasts, artificial intelligence. I myself am a very fond user of many libraries’ digital materials, when creating a lesson plan me and my co-teacher don’t even have to meet: Skype, google drive become our meeting places… Nowadays you can easily have co-teachers or get peer reviews from all over the world. The world has indeed become “flat” and every day everybody who uses the interent technologies to inform themselves or to connect with others, to access the digital and virtual information online contributes to the creating of even flatter world.
Thus, we all do are part of flattening both as teachers and as learners, we contribute to the process by having new needs and requirements from the technology and by using those later in our classrooms or study rooms. Almost 70 percent of my life is now online and that’s the case, I assume, with most of the people even if we exclude the social networking websites. Online learning platforms, MOOCs, language learning softwares emerged due to the flat world and they are becoming more and more real as they become part of the traditional classrooms.
And even though I am still dubious about all this (and I will explain the reasons in future posts) I would defiitely recommend everybody to read the book “The World is Flat” and see what’s your role in the flat world.