The World is Flat

Thomas L. Friedman published an updated and expanded edition of his The World Is Flat A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century book in April 2006.

What Friedman means by flat is connected: the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet.

Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete–and win–not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well.

…Friedman has more to say about what he now calls uploading, the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. — Amazon.com’s Editorial Review

So what does this have to do with education? The technical and creative training that will be required for our students to compete in the work force will include collaboration and communication with people outside of their physical space. Our students need to experience collaboration with people in another geographic location. Technology is making this so easy! The Internet has evolved into a read/write web empowering its users to have conversations in synchronous or asynchronous situations, to collaboratively develop a document or web page, participate in virtual meetings, or publish a podcast or a blog to which others subscribe.

To see just how easily you can connect your students with an expert in New York City (pronounced just like that old salsa commercial), another classroom in Bangladesh, or another classroom in Missouri, register for my summer workshop, Collaborative Projects, on August 1. We will use a webcam and Skype to have a free video conference, locate virtual field trips, explore collaborative projects available for your students, and more.

Image: Lars Plougmann. “Double flat – P1030029.JPG” Larsz’s Photostream. 12 Dec 2006. 27 May 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/329918332/. 12/19/06>

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