In fact it seems to be a predominant principle of all social interaction. We form and cultivate networks, whenever we get into communicating with somebody. The form, the strength and the rules of engagement may vary, but actors in a network are, in one way or the other, dependent on the corresponding actors and the design of environment, were the interaction takes place. This is nothing new, as so called new media have entered this field on an irregular basis throughout human history. Think about which impact the first books, printed with Guttenbergs movable letters had on the availability of information in the long run. The first nationwide radio broadcasts or televison shows? Every medium had it’s era of novelty and wonder and yet we think, being online is all that revolutionary. Why is this, I wonder?
The new media of the 21. century have brought forth a form of near omnipresence – the internet, with all it’s favors and quirks. Near omnipresence is the term of intrest here, because allthough we think of our world as getting all the more digital by any passing minute, we tend to ignore the fact, that a good percentage of humankind has as of now been decoupled from this evolution of information and communication. I don’t know if those, not yet connected would see this as a drawback or not, if they would knew what lies in that mystical world beyond the screen. Maybe they would ask, what the bravado is all about. After all it’s just a – admittedly quite highly – sophisticated form of smoke signals, isn’t it?
If we talk about social inequality regarding the availability of an internet-connection, or better the lack of it, we tend to miss the fact, that we have adapted ourselves to measuring anybody and anything with a scale, that’s been formed by our experiences which in return are at least to some point a product of our socialisation and the environment in which it took place. I can’t imagine, what it feels like to be a beduine, a mining worker in south america, or a fisherman in southeast asia and yet sometimes I think, if being someone like that I would miss what I have here, being a german paramedic and pedagogy student. Can you see the paradoxon lying in those thoughts? Humans should be equal when it comes to human rights – and we are still damn far from that goal – but they aren’t the same. We need to take the individual needs and desires, which in return are somewhat dependent on the environment into that equasion, if we want to talk about equality.
There’s no doubt, at least in my opinion, that the internet and it’s associated new media could help a great deal, when it comes to the development either socially, politically or economically of countries, which are today part of what we call the third world. But we can’t just take the experiences that were made here in the industrialized first world and simply try to solve their problems the very same way. That won’t do any good!
And yet it should be a foremost goal of anybody associated with education, to think in which ways the skills of interdisciplinary thinking and problemsolving, the ability to evaluate one’s individual situation and adapt strategys accordingly could be deployed globally, for everyone. The capability of learning existes in everyone; but to bring it to live, so that it could be useful in helping to the betterment of our human existence, thought as a whole, is taxing, problem-ridden and does come with setbacks sure enough. But it’s worth the effort, because education for everybody – done with equality, independence, individuality and humanity in mind – will unlock powers that can help make our world a better place.
The actual contemporary goal of education wordwide is to serve the needs of the ever-hungry industrial complex for skilled personal to do it’s bidding; to invent, to produce, to distribute, etc. so the cash keeps flowing. And what’s done to pupils in most schools on earth serves this purpose quite well. But the future goal must be to serve the needs of the pupils, their lust for knowledge, their creativity and their capability to participate in every aspect as equal members of the society, they live in. Their ideas of how a society operates, of what it is composed and who may take influence for what reason must evolve from the status quo, because one thing is for sure: if we don’t change humankinds modus operandi, and soon, there won’t be much of a future for the generations to come.
Thus interconnectedness, although it is as old as humanity, is still crucial to that idea, because it has been improved by the new media. Information exchange and communicating ideas, ideals and idols can be accomplished faster than ever before. This could be kind of revolutionary for education too, if it would be accompanied by learning environments, that incorporate concepts, highly adaptable to rapidly changing settings and needs. Obviously this seems to be the task set before those, about to enroll as professionals in the educational world. Yet one question remains: are we willing to work or even fight for a change?
Education can’t be discussed ignoring power issues. But contemporary new media have one attribute, that makes them appealing to be part of a solution to that problem: Their usage is somewhat democratic in as much, as there are no limitations, who can broadcast his ideas, ideals and idols, as long as the technical perequisites are met. I know these words show a somewhat idealistic view on the subject, as censorship and simple lack of the ressources limit the range of my ideas as of now, but for the purpose of motivating myself and others to work for the better educational systems it shall suffice to perceive the idea. This means, spreading the word is a beginning, but to get positive influence on decision-makers is the goal in the long run. I’ll try to do my very best to help bring about such a development.