The Internet as a Belief System

I stumbled across a great piece from Joichi Ito in the New York Time’s entitled “Innovating by the Seat of Our Pants” that focuses on innovation and the Internet beginning with this powerful sentiment:

“The Internet isn’t really a technology. It’s a belief system, a philosophy about the effectiveness of decentralized, bottom-up innovation. And it’s a philosophy that has begun to change how we think about creativity itself.”

And this is one difficult belief system to instill in schools where the Internet is most often seen as yet another tool – a place to visit, a tool to use at designated times.  Instead, what we needs is to foster a shift to which the Internet becomes a living, breathing part of education and shifting away from centralized instruction to “a process establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity” (Ito).

But there are schools embracing the Internet as more than a tool – schools like the one led by Jason Markey who recently wrote “It’s not just the web… It’s the WEB!“, which echoes Ito’s sentiments about the Internet as a belief system. And this belief system is important because “choosing the web is choosing opportunity for our students” (Markey).

Because those opportunities that Markey speaks about when Internet is more than a tool are at the heart of something bigger than where we stand today as Ito says so eloquently:

“Neoteny, one of my favorite words, means the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood: idealism, experimentation and wonder. In this new world, not only must we behave more like children, we also must teach the next generation to retain those attributes that will allow them to be world-changing, innovative adults who will help us reinvent the future.”

Don’t you think? And if so, how do we shift mindsets in schools to see the opportunities afforded by Internet are maximizes when it becomes a belief system that runs through the core of the community? How do we encourage a deeper discussion centered on the idea that the Internet represents a future minded classroom?

1 Comment

  1. Ryan, it’s not so much that it’s difficult to instill in schools themselves. It’s that even the digital advocates don’t get it!

    I work at the bleeding edge of Web as Classroom. Not web-as-text-book, or web-as-teacher, but web as “Here’s where I go to get the customized education I need, with all the blessings and approvals that the taxpaying public needs.”

    I’m in Ohio, where the legislature has uniquely positioned our students to take full advantage of the revolution that’s coming–via iTunesU, Khan Academy, MOOCs, and much, much more. But the teachers and students need a platform to make this happen.

    The thing is, even at the Digital Learning Day with Tom VanderArk, the hosts themselves didn’t quite see the need for this. Or they see it as something the State is somehow going to miraculously do on it’s own. In a year, I’ve not been able to raise a dime.

    In Ohio, half our black students are dropping out. Our college rate is just 23%. Much has been done, but students with Android are not going to hold on much longer.

    The belief system you speak of here predates the net. But oh the power and potential that’s just within grasp!


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