NBN Co Blog
Fri 01 JUNComment
How ubiquitous broadband will reshape space
Posted on Friday 01 June 2012 by Steve Collis
The views and opinions expressed in the article are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect those of NBN Co.
I'm a High School teacher in the age of the internet. I can tell you, it's an exciting job! The ground is shifting, amounting to a revolution of 'power to the people' (students), where us teachers just try to get out of the way and support them from the side.
One way the ground has shifted is the capability of the internet to become a curated learning landscape. Teachers don't need to 'push' learning activities out to the students, because students can 'pull' what they need when they need it.
Schools around the world are blinking like possums in headlights, asking "What does this mean for us? Where do we go with this?"
It's a confronting question because we are all very familiar with the pre-internet paradigm of schooling. We all went through it as children, and see it still on the television, in soap operas, and unfortunately in many so-called 'visions of the future'.
These are often infected with classrooms with rows of desks facing the teacher. That's a one-to-many relationship you've got there. Not cool! In the age of the net, it's many-to-many connections.
A one-to-many relationship is inefficient, harnessing the initiative and agency of only one individual, while pacifying the rest. Classrooms with rows of desks are relics of the ancient regime. Wherever we're going, it's not there!
The way we configure physical space shapes the human relationships within the space. Think of a court-room, an elevator, a sports-field, a circus, a stage, or a prison, and consider how the space influences possible roles and relationships, cultures and codes.
I have a theory that technology is space. A telephone, for instance, creates a relational space where you and I can communicate, even if physically separated.
Gutenberg's printing press created a technological space (paper with words on it) that allowed one-to-many relationships. It enabled the age of the author.
(You can't have a communication with a book. I've tried - it gave me the cold shoulder.)
The internet is also a technological space, but unlike print books, it allows many-to-many relationships. Look at the hive-mind conversations on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. Watch the emergent knowledge-construction on Wikipedia, or crowd-sourced brave new worlds in Minecraft.
As broadband internet becomes ubiquitous in Australia I think there will be a revolution in education. Websites like 'Khan Academy' and apps like 'Show Me' provide a marketplace of explanations for students to access at will. With access to this market, time spent on-campus at a school will necessarily shift focus from information-delivery to collaborative application to real-world problems.
Such collaboration need not be limited to the local physical campus. Real-time video-conference collaboration, or indeed holographic collaboration, will break the tyranny of distance in powerful ways.
There's no one standing out the front acting as conductor, but the music is sweeter than ever.
If you are interested in learning more about how services provided over the NBN can help open up better learning opportunities for all Australians visit our newly launched education site: www.nbnco.com.au/schools.
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When we talk about speeds delivered over the National Broadband Network, we are referring to the wholesale speed to telephone and internet service providers. The speed you can achieve, and services you can use, on your individual connection will depend on many factors including the services you subscribe to, the software and communication protocols you use, quality of your equipment and connection to your home/business, the broadband plans offered by your telephone or internet provider and how it designs its network to cater for multiple users.
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