BETT 2009
And the Four-year-olds Shall Lead Us …

Red-eyeing it from Boston to London last night, I read in the Guardian about today's opening of BETT 2009 [British Education and Training Technology], advertised as the biggest and best show of its kind in the world—the collection of global education ministers expected to attend gives cause to take the claim seriously.

What's up?
In a word, everything.

The article led off with this little vignette about 4-year old Multimedia Masters of the Universe, part of a Global Surge re-inventing education. Or should I say, better yet by far, re-inventing LEARNING & LIVING:

"In Blackburn, four-year-olds are making podcasts. In Suffolk, the sometimes tedious and impractical ritual of morning Assembly has been replaced in one school by a news video compiled by pupils; posting it on YouTube means parents can watch as well—and they do. ... Learners at all stages and ages, from all over the world, are downloading free tutorials while they replenish their iPods, courtesy of iTunes U. ..."

Among many other things, the key ideas are hyper-creative group collaboration on the one hand—and, on the other, completely customized, "user driven" learning, starting by, uh, age 4. (Or less?)

Other examples are more "ordinary" (by the standards of the distant past, say 2007 or 2008). Consider:

"MirandaNet is pioneering the concept of 'braided learning'—digital exchanges using instant messaging and social networking where members contribute their comments, judgments and evidence to create shared insights to influence current professional thinking. ... Braided learning allows professionals to create their own knowledge that can be used locally, regionally and nationally; they become activist professionals."

Again group-crowd sourcing-learning and production and 100% customized knowledge are the keystones.

Naturally, some education systems are way ahead (parts of the UK are at the front of the front of the line), and others trail miserably, even if their scores on national technological sophistication are high. Our British friends see the chance for global leadership in an enormous industry ticketed for fast growth over the next 10–20 years.

As I prepare for a seminar tomorrow to a company involved in and dependent upon information collection, analysis, and dissemination, I find that the kids, wee kids in part, from Blackburn and Suffolk are my principal source of inspiration. Dear God, do they have a lot to teach us!

Right now!