The trans­for­ma­tion in our cul­ture since the mass avail­abil­ity of the pub­lic Inter­net has occurred more rapidly than any pre­vi­ous change in soci­ety. Like all changes that bring about a trans­for­ma­tion, this one has, and con­tin­ues to take place in leaps and bounds rather than at a lin­ear, more man­age­able pace. These leaps are uncom­fort­able. They bring about feel­ings in us all that are akin to that which we feel rid­ing a roller-​​coaster — some nau­sea, an odd sen­sa­tion in the pit of the stom­ach, and not a lit­tle dis­ori­en­ta­tion. Get used to it. It’s still going on and we’re on the biggest trip ever. At least for now.

We live today in a world of rapidly increas­ing con­nect­ed­ness. We are con­nected to each other as indi­vid­u­als and in groups in a way that changes every­thing. And I do mean every­thing — edu­ca­tion, fam­i­lies, busi­ness, gov­ern­ment, causes, empow­er­ment, cul­ture, glob­al­i­sa­tion. Every­thing. This school, indeed any school, or any gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, organ­i­sa­tion or per­son that remains dis­con­nected for much longer risks an ever-​​increasing mar­gin­al­i­sa­tion in the face of a hyper­con­nected world.

Set aside for a moment that large parts of the world remain not con­nected to the Inter­net. Those parts that are are vis­i­bly, mea­sur­ably dif­fer­ent to how they were 15 years ago. They are even markedly dif­fer­ent to five years ago.

Of real sig­nif­i­cance amongst these changes, is the change in the way humans now learn. It is impor­tant to under­stand that the for­mal edu­ca­tion I went through, and the vast major­ity of those teach­ing today went through, bears lit­tle or no resem­blance to either the way we or our kids them­selves learn when left to our own devices nor to the way the real world oper­ates. The real edu­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion that needs to occur is a trans­for­ma­tion based on that understanding.

This con­nect­ed­ness, which began back in the mid-90’s with the intro­duc­tion of the pub­lic to the World Wide Web has intro­duced us all to a net­work of peo­ple, places and pos­si­bil­i­ties we sim­ply did not have access to before that time. And we now depend on that net­work. Deeply so. It’s about trust. About rela­tion­ships. And about being some­thing more than we are, intel­lec­tu­ally and per­son­ally, that we can be with­out the network.

I remem­ber my first hes­i­tant steps into the online world, around 20 years ago. As an early adopter, they were at 14.4K per sec­ond and on the pre-​​public Web world of Com­puServe. After 1998, Com­puServe was swal­lowed up in the rapid expan­sion of AOL, becom­ing just a part of that behe­moth. In the years I was online with Com­puServe before that, I was a part of a much smaller, yet no less fas­ci­nat­ing net­work of peo­ple, places and pos­si­bil­i­ties — inter­act­ing with peo­ple far and wide, as far away as remote north­ern Canada, Brasil and Scot­land on things that we were col­lec­tively fas­ci­nated by; sci­ence fic­tion, Terry Pratchett’s Dis­c­world nov­els and fitness.

I’m still fas­ci­nated by those and other things 15 years later. Though my com­mu­nity — the net­work I share those fas­ci­na­tions, and oth­ers, with — is now vastly larger and richer than I could ever have imag­ined in my early dab­blings on CompuServe.

Size and rich­ness are just two of the impor­tant mea­sures of the hyper­con­nected world we now live in. When we go online and choose to par­tic­i­pate in that global hyper­con­nected com­mu­nity, a third aspect takes form. We each become a cell in a great hybrid ner­vous sys­tem, elec­tronic and human, that often is dif­fi­cult to under­stand. But the core aspect of that ner­vous sys­tem. The very heart of it is col­lab­o­ra­tion. Sharing.

As nodes in this sys­tem, we are both sender and receiver, seeker and finder. And there is an expec­ta­tion that we col­lab­o­rate and share that which we both seek and find. And the very act of shar­ing, of col­lab­o­ra­tion, adds immense value to the net­work each time we par­tic­i­pate. That value goes far beyond the sim­ple, sin­gle act that takes place. The whole is very much greater than the sum of the parts. This shar­ing has been a part of what the Inter­net has been about since the first servers were switched on back in the late 1960’s. But now we’re in a posi­tion to do some­thing rather more substantial.

When we first went online, none of us were quite sure what to do. I remem­ber see­ing the per­sonal home­page of the per­son that intro­duced me to the web. It was a pro­to­typ­i­cal “About me” page. An early form of what we see today on any busi­ness web site and on the mul­ti­tude of blogs and other pro­files we cre­ate online. Who am I? What do I do? I like Veg­emite, do you?

Well, now we know. We know who you are. We know what you do. We share your love of Veg­emite and a cor­nu­copia of other things through shared expe­ri­ence online. Through tweets, blog posts, Face­book sta­tus mes­sages, pokes, likes, rat­ings, links.

This shar­ing, divorced from the tool by which it’s shared, but all borne on the same car­rier wave, is where things begin to get pro­foundly inter­est­ing. It’s not the tech­nol­ogy that’s the cool thing (though at times that’s cool enough), it’s what we do with it, together, that’s got legs.

Per­haps the crown­ing glory of the shared online expe­ri­ence is, rather than the color of your trac­tor on Far­mville, the in excess of 100 mil­lion hours of effort taken to pro­duce the Eng­lish lan­guage ver­sion of Wikipedia. In the words of my col­league, friend and edu­ca­tor, Mark Pesce:

“…what is new about Wikipedia?  Sim­ply this: the idea of shar­ing.  Wikipedia invites us all to share from our exper­tise, for the ben­e­fit of one another.  It is an agree­ment to share what we know to col­lec­tively improve our capa­bil­ity.  If you strip away all of the tech­nol­ogy, and all of the hype – both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive –from Wikipedia, what you’re left with is this agree­ment to share.”

This capa­bil­ity to share, and through shar­ing, trans­form cul­ture, is the thing that has become the most pow­er­ful, most entic­ing, most ter­ri­fy­ing part of what the online world offers us.

Inter­est­ingly, many schools and other edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions place so lit­tle value on the shar­ing, knowl­edge and effort that has gone into Wikipedia over its exis­tence, that they ban its use as a research tool. How quaint.

Of course, as humans, we don’t always make the most of the power accorded to us. Some of the shar­ing done online is less than edi­fy­ing — the excesses of pub­lic voyeurism through videos of bul­ly­ing and the defac­ing of Face­book trib­ute pages set up by peo­ple mourn­ing a loss and with­out the knowl­edge of how to curate that space to pro­tect and pre­serve its cul­tural value show that shar­ing need not be an act that adds to the world.

Those that share neg­a­tively have learnt the skill of shar­ing, but not the human attrib­utes that go along­side it of empa­thy, com­pas­sion, love, respect. They some­times lack a cer­tain matu­rity. Per­haps it is the case that the offline net­works into which these peo­ple share — their fam­i­lies, friends and phys­i­cal social net­works also lack that matu­rity. Per­haps too, they are unskilled in the ways of the online world and are push­ing its bound­aries as a child does with par­ents and teach­ers. Or per­haps they are just get­ting their jollies.

On the other side of the coin, those of us that share pos­i­tively do so with an astound­ing vari­ety. Some of us share inani­ties — our lunch, a new piece of cloth­ing. Other share deep feel­ings — love, anger, amaze­ment, joy. Still more act as cre­ators, gath­er­ers and gar­den­ers of knowl­edge, whether that’s as pro­found as cli­mate sci­ence, or as super­fi­cial as bet­ter ways to play World of War­craft. It all adds value. It all makes us senders and receivers.

If we are to send and receive, to act as a node, we must shoul­der a level of respon­si­bil­ity in the man­age­ment and dis­tri­b­u­tion of the sig­nal we carry. We must learn to become good dig­i­tal citizens.

As edu­ca­tors, the teach­ing of good dig­i­tal cit­i­zen­ship is arguably one of the most impor­tant skills you can pass to those in your charge. You have a hand, as big or big­ger often, in the devel­op­ment of those you teach than do their par­ents. Not only that, their par­ents are often lack­ing in the skills needed to teach dig­i­tal cit­i­zen­ship. Few of us were brought up with the Web as kids are today. Even five or six years ago, few online social net­works existed. You are in a posi­tion both envi­able and unen­vi­able; you get to be the first adults to teach the dig­i­tal natives how to be a tribe of nobles rather than savages.

Good dig­i­tal cit­i­zen­ship is a com­plex notion. It involves aspects of tech­ni­cal com­pe­tence, famil­iar­ity with changed cul­ture and emo­tional intel­li­gence all at once. Wrap­ping these together, and deal­ing with them well in the con­text of a rapidly chang­ing online envi­ron­ment is immensely com­plex. Yet, we’re all exposed to this envi­ron­ment, and from an increas­ingly young age.

There’s no way to exam­ine these three aspects in iso­la­tion from each other. They are inex­orably wrapped up in each other. In exam­in­ing one, so many aspects of the oth­ers are appar­ent that the taks is futile.

Tech­nol­ogy moves apace. The mobile phone I use today is barely that. Rather it’s a com­plex con­verged device pro­vid­ing tele­phony, mes­sag­ing (in var­i­ous forms), access to the Inter­net in famil­iar ways such as email, chat and the Web as well as less famil­iarly, with point solu­tion tools such as Foursquare, Twit­ter, Face­book, Wikipedia and the emer­gent aug­mented real­ity appli­ca­tions I can use. There’s sig­nif­i­cantly more com­put­ing power in my hand than sent the Apollo mis­sions to the Moon. And sig­nif­i­cantly more even than the first desk­top PC I owned in 1991. Let alone raw functionality.

I’ve another point to make about mobile devices, but I’ll get to that a lit­tle later.

We’ve already dis­cussed the cul­tural and tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion wrought by the Inter­net, but let’s remind our­selves. This thing that was orig­i­nally cre­ated to ensure the per­sis­tence of United States’ defence infor­ma­tion in the face of the out­break of nuclear war and pass eso­teric data between aca­d­e­mics has utterly reshaped West­ern soci­ety and is hav­ing no less impact in Asia and Africa, though the tools being used there to con­duct that impact are some­what different.

The Pew Inter­net and Amer­i­can Life project reported last year that 46 per cent of US adults have used a social net­work on at least one occa­sion, with 27 per cent using one within a day of being sur­veyed. Here in Aus­tralia, the lat­est Com­Score research indi­cates a mas­sive 96 per cent social net­work mem­ber­ship of some sort amongst Inter­net using adults. With more than a quar­ter of Aus­tralians with an active Face­book pro­file, there is a mas­sive com­mu­nity out there con­nect­ing and shar­ing. Granted, it’s not all deep, but it’s cer­tainly meaningful.

But how mean­ing­ful? The answer is very.

Being con­nected to each other online, rather than being a large pool of uncon­nected points, has had a num­ber of pro­found behav­ioral impacts. We now use social net­works more than we use email and search. This has sin­gu­lar impli­ca­tions for soci­ety; the very way we inter­act, share, relate, trust and learn has been trans­formed and con­tin­ues to undergo trans­for­ma­tion, much of which we can’t yet begin to imag­ine. The very behav­iors and changes we’re see­ing are them­selves emer­gent and unpre­dictable. And their impli­ca­tions are significant.

Let’s start early.

Today, chil­dren begin form­ing rela­tion­ships of real sub­stance in preschool. It’s at about the same time many of them are begin­ning to use the Inter­net. It’s not incon­ceiv­able that many chil­dren will estab­lish loose ties with each other at this early stage that will per­sist through hyper­con­nect­ed­ness across the span of their lives. I can see this in my own daugh­ter, Han­nah, who has main­tained a rela­tion­ship with her best friend from child care, Shan­non. They con­nect reg­u­larly from half a world away, and in just a few weeks, will see each other phys­i­cally for the first time in seven years when we visit them on a trip to Wash­ing­ton DC.

As she matures, Han­nah is adding more and more rela­tion­ships to the net­work she exists within. They pos­sess both phys­i­cal and vir­tual ele­ments, and will con­tinue to do so over the com­ing years. She has the oppor­tu­nity to fos­ter and main­tain a net­work on a scale that I sim­ply could not at her age, and can­not now, no mat­ter how many peo­ple I meet and enjoy the com­pany of.

The value of that net­work, as it grows and is curated; as she cherry picks who to be close to and who to be loosely asso­ci­ated with, grows in value with each node added. Each new cell in the sys­tem pro­vides value not only to its neigh­bors, but also to the dis­tant, loose con­nec­tions. It may be a con­nec­tion sev­eral years and many steps away from the hub that is Han­nah, that proves of spe­cial value at some point in the future.

But this also illus­trates a prob­lem. The sheer scale of the net­work that Han­nah will exist in is orders of mag­ni­tude greater than that of her grand­par­ents’ and still sig­nif­i­cantly larger than that of her adept, but still, dig­i­tal immi­grant, Dad. The only way this net­work will be able to be eas­ily main­tained will be through care­ful, ongo­ing cura­tion and break­ing of the net­work down into more gran­u­lar chunks — these are Debat­ing Club peo­ple, and over­seas friends, and swim­ming friends, and peo­ple I know through Mum and Dad. That kind of cura­tion is sim­ple at small scales, but incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult on the scale that Han­nah will need to manage.

On top of the vast num­ber of rela­tion­ships hav­ing to be man­aged, is an ever increas­ing vol­ume of data that needs to be made sense of — email, links, web sites, news, video, audio, pod­casts, and more. It’s sim­ply not pos­si­ble to store this in your head. The notion of our tools as “out­board brain” has real cre­dence; whether we’re col­lect­ing infor­ma­tion for a pub­lic speak­ing engage­ment as I did using Ever­note, or stor­ing eas­ily for­got­ten phone num­bers in our mobile phones, con­ve­niently synced with our con­tacts online, or mak­ing lists of friends and where they fit into our lives on Facebook.

So, how does this fit into education?

My belief, as some­one who is not an edu­ca­tor, but is pas­sion­ately inter­ested in both my own ongo­ing edu­ca­tion and that of my daugh­ter, is that hyper­con­nect­ed­ness has so fun­da­men­tally changed edu­ca­tion that the model we’ve oper­ated under to now is no longer rel­e­vant. We have lit­tle time left to change and it’s not going to come with the Edu­ca­tion Revolution.

As hard as it is to keep up with tech­no­log­i­cal changes, the emer­gence of new plat­forms and tools, and an under­stand­ing of the ben­e­fits and risks they may offer the net­worked teacher, stu­dent or par­ent, is a core skill for mod­ern educators.

Equally, an under­stand­ing of the cul­ture of the net­work is crit­i­cal. Who con­nects to who. Why? How? To what end? Where is the value? What is my role in this new world where the value accorded exper­tise is decay­ing as access to fac­tual mate­r­ial, and even rich inter­pre­ta­tion and con­text is becom­ing a triv­ial task.

It’s sim­ply not good enough to say “I don’t have the time” or “It’s too hard, I can’t keep up.” Oth­ers do, and are. And your stu­dents cer­tainly are. If you can’t be their guide through the tech­no­log­i­cal changes, you can no longer be the men­tor they need in the net­worked age of education.

The model for the class room, from a child’s first day at child care right through to the very end of ter­tiary edu­ca­tion is fun­da­men­tally bro­ken. We still oper­ate accord­ing to rules estab­lished in the 19th Cen­tury to train com­pli­ant work­ers for the fac­to­ries of England’s Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion. I’ve also seen it described more than once, so I don’t lay claim to the idea, as the “air­plane model”; get in, sit down, face for­ward and be quiet.

In schools now, too often, tech­nol­ogy is a part-​​utilised add-​​on. More often, it’s crip­pled. And the net­work of con­nec­tions? Ill-​​used and piece­meal, even in the best schools.

When I talk with edu­ca­tors, many know what they should do, but have lacked the resources to do so. We now have those resources at hand, if we use them and share.

Edu­ca­tion must become the place where the net­work is best utilised. Where use of tools is taught well and goes deep. We now have the resources to cre­ate an age where the bound­aries of the class­room break down, where the exploratory learn­ing we so value in giv­ing small chil­dren is extended to the class for older children.

The hyper­con­nected world has cre­ated a new way of doing things that run strongly counter to the power rela­tion­ship inher­ent in edu­ca­tion before now. The con­flict that this sets up will be the decid­ing fac­tor. Can edu­ca­tion change to cope with the open, shared, col­lab­o­ra­tive future of the hyper­con­nected world, or will it try to insist on main­tain­ing its posi­tion of power and thus dis­en­gage from learn­ers who will go about seek­ing their own learning?

Let’s then look at some real-​​world, prac­ti­cal exam­ples, begin­ning with one of my per­sonal bug­bears, block­ing and fil­ter­ing the school net­work and pro­vid­ing stu­dents and teach­ers with crip­pled hardware.

It was back in Feb­ru­ary 2009 that I wrote a fairly short piece enti­tled Block­ing never works. I absolutely stand by the core premise of that piece, which is that pro­vid­ing peo­ple with whom you work — in the con­text of schools that’s teach­ers, other staff and stu­dents — with a less than full access expe­ri­ence to their hard­ware, soft­ware and online access infan­tilises them. Imag­in­ing that this crip­pled expe­ri­ence is some­how bet­ter and pro­vides you shiny, happy peo­ple who will com­pli­antly obey your edicts is fool­ish at best and deeply dam­ag­ing in many cases. Bet­ter to, as I said in that article:

“…make sure your [peo­ple] are empow­ered to use social tools at work but also under­stand with crys­tal clar­ity what is and isn’t acceptable.”

Now, of course, I have no prob­lem with schools try­ing to block porn from their net­work. It’s a rare work­place that such access is ever nec­es­sary. But the sheer avail­abil­ity of such stuff and the ease with which it can be sought, and make no mis­take, it must be sought, it can­not be “stum­bled across” as the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter would have us believe, makes the task fairly point­less. Rather, I say teach proper behav­iors. Make stu­dents and staff aware that their Inter­net use can and will be logged. Being watched is as good or bet­ter fil­ter than a fil­ter itself.

Fur­ther, and research bears this out in a mul­ti­tude of cases, schools and work­places that have fil­tered Inter­net access are more likely to have cases of attempts at inap­pro­pri­ate access than those that have unfil­tered access accom­pa­nied by appro­pri­ate guides to behav­ioral expec­ta­tions. They also tend to have stu­dents and staff with less rich under­stand­ing of what it takes to be a respon­si­ble and safe dig­i­tal cit­i­zen with a well-​​managed and appro­pri­ately curated online identity.

Here in Aus­tralia, the NSW DET is noto­ri­ous as a par­tic­u­larly strin­gent restricter of access to hard­ware, soft­ware and the Inter­net. The peo­ple at the Depart­ment have obvi­ously not read the report from their British col­leagues at the Office for Stan­dards in Edu­ca­tion, Children’s Ser­vices and Skills, whose report, The safe use of new tech­nolo­gies, released in Feb­ru­ary this year noted in par­tic­u­lar that in respect to locked down sys­tems such as those being released under the lap­tops for schools pro­gram here:

“this approach had dis­ad­van­tages in the schools vis­ited. As well as tak­ing up time and detract­ing from learn­ing, it did not encour­age the pupils to take respon­si­bil­ity for their actions.”

Far bet­ter to teach some respon­si­ble behav­iors and tech­ni­cal skills in order to man­age the tools properly.

Addi­tion­ally, the same report noted that with respect to man­aged, but not locked down sys­tems, includ­ing hard­ware, soft­ware and Inter­net access, that an envi­ron­ment of col­lab­o­ra­tion and shar­ing, where respon­si­bil­ity was given and expected to be taken that it:

“…[pro­vided] them with richer learn­ing expe­ri­ences; and [enabled them] to bridge the gap between sys­tems at school and the more open sys­tems out­side school.”

In other words, block­ing access to the Inter­net, and par­tic­u­larly to social tools — the parts that form the third places in the net­work — may ulti­mately prove more dis­tract­ing — and poten­tially more dan­ger­ous — to students.

We hear, more often per­haps than we like, about how dif­fi­cult it is to engage kids with tech­nol­ogy. I don’t think we should be sur­prised at all. After all, the moment they enter class, we make it abun­dantly clear that the core piece of tech­nol­ogy that con­nects them into the net­work, their mobile phones, is anath­ema to the learn­ing expe­ri­ence. This too has been given the lie in sev­eral pieces of research. One par­tic­u­lar case in the US, mobile phones, ubiq­ui­tous amongst stu­dents, are used as a teach­ing tool, pro­vid­ing access to teach­ing resources of var­i­ous sorts and being used as a way to notify stu­dents of work due. This school finds they have less mis­use of the tech­nol­ogy than if they banned it.

And of course, this becomes pro­gres­sively more dif­fi­cult as stu­dents get older. You won’t find an adult edu­ca­tor who can suc­cess­fully get a class to switch off their devices. Far bet­ter to have stu­dents use them pro­duc­tively in class than sneak­ing furtive use when your back is turned.

Next, let’s look at the way kids learn and the ben­e­fits avail­able to teach­ers through the net­work of sharing.

For teach­ers, as much as stu­dents, the net­work or organ­i­sa­tions and indi­vid­u­als avail­able to them extends now well beyond the class­room, the school and even the city you live in. Fail­ing to take advan­tage of this net­work, plac­ing your­self both as the hub of your own net­work and as sim­ply a point in the mul­ti­tude of other con­nected net­works, does you a great disservice.

Imag­ine this net­work; you are con­nected to your peers through shared expe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and under­stand­ing, your stu­dents are con­nected to each other by the same net­work, you and the stu­dents are con­nected. And that net­work then extends out through a mul­ti­tude of nodes, each pro­vid­ing a slightly dif­fer­ence per­spec­tive, or pool of knowl­edge or set of expe­ri­ences. This net­work, which, given its scale, might as well be infi­nite, extends to par­ents, the com­mu­nity. The class­room stops being four walls, some desks and chairs. The phys­i­cal con­struct becomes as irrel­e­vant as the intel­lec­tual one. Nei­ther hold any longer.

The class, no longer bound by a room, can observe itself from the out­side, or observe and par­tic­i­pate in any other event or hap­pen­ing. The poten­tial rich­ness of this expe­ri­ence is lim­it­less. Equally, the out­side can observe the class, in con­text, in real time or after. Par­ents can see the magic happen.

Today, Hannah’s learn­ing envi­ron­ment is the entire world. Arguably it’s larger than that. More specif­i­cally, it’s this — Hannah’s learn­ing envi­ron­ment is the hyper­con­nected world she finds her­self a part of on a con­stant basis. She’s con­nected con­tin­u­ally to expe­ri­ences and groups from which she learns and con­tex­tu­al­izes. Most of those are not medi­ated in a class­room envi­ron­ment, and many of them are amongst her peers. This will become more so as her abil­ity to socialise and col­lab­o­rate with her peers increases in com­plex­ity and becomes more refined.

As a group they, and oth­ers like them, are entirely col­lab­o­ra­tive, con­ver­sa­tional and com­mu­nity focused. She’s con­nected into these learn­ing expe­ri­ences on a con­stant basis through mobile phones, her iPod, the tools she uses like wikis, blogs, online book­mark­ing and social net­works, and any one of the sev­eral ‘Net-​​connected devices she encoun­ters dur­ing the course of her day. Often, those expe­ri­ences are mas­sively par­al­lel — IM and text, while read­ing or edit­ing some­thing online and lis­ten­ing to some­thing else or con­vers­ing with the group in the room. Han­nah and her peers are a part of an envi­ron­ment beyond the class­room that empow­ers them and puts them in con­trol. That allows them to fol­low the white rab­bit down the hole of con­nect­ed­ness until their curios­ity is sated. This form of learn­ing is also multi-​​directional. Han­nah teaches as much as she learns. The net­work responds to her as much as she to it. They are, as Don Tap­scott puts it, “the ‘Net Generation”.

Arguably, her learn­ing expe­ri­ences in the class­room are becom­ing pro­gres­sively more irrel­e­vant as the learn­ing expe­ri­ences she under­takes beyond the class — delib­er­ately or coin­ci­den­tally — more directly pre­pare her and equip her with the skills she will need to suc­cess­fully tackle the 21st Cen­tury. She is more con­nected to, and more con­tex­tu­ally so, to what dig­i­tal ethno­g­ra­pher Kevin Kelly termed “The One” than any gen­er­a­tion before her.

In gen­er­a­tions to come, this will be seen as nat­ural. Right now, it presents an enor­mous chal­lenge to many edu­ca­tors and edu­ca­tion bureau­crats and pol­i­cy­mak­ers in the polit­i­cal arena as they strug­gle to keep up. Cer­tainly the Prime Min­is­ter and Edu­ca­tion Min­is­ter, as keenly inter­ested as they are in edu­ca­tion, by no means envi­sioned this as their Edu­ca­tion Revolution.

This approach is as acces­si­ble to teach­ers as it is to stu­dents. You can and ought to par­tic­i­pate in the rich­ness the net­work affords. Your own lit­er­acy in the tools, the cul­ture and the net­work itself is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of your abil­ity to men­tor stu­dents through the emo­tional, social and tech­ni­cal maze that they are nav­i­gat­ing. If you are left behind, you will, in short order, decrease in rel­e­vance to mod­ern learn­ing. That places you in an unen­vi­able posi­tion; unable to ade­quately men­tor your stu­dents and teach them not only the con­tent of their class but what it means in the greater con­text of their exis­tence as humans in the 21st Cen­tury, you may find your­self and your out­dated skills con­signed to the same scrapheap the Indus­trial Age class­room model finds itself.

To move to where I pro­pose teach­ing and learn­ing needs to go is no triv­ial task. It will require a sin­gu­lar will and no small amount of reimag­in­ing what the school expe­ri­ence looks like. But we’ve done this before, in so many parts of soci­ety, includ­ing schools when we trans­formed from the unstruc­tured learn­ing and one-​​to-​​one trans­fer of skills largely based around the fam­ily farm to indus­tri­alised soci­ety where we went off to work leav­ing our chil­dren in the charge of oth­ers to be taught. This will be no less a leap.

But now, we have the net­work not only to learn from, but to help us. Its value is man­i­fold. We can use the net­work and the shar­ing we do on it to trans­form edu­ca­tion as much as we use it as a tool of edu­ca­tion.

Imag­ine the possibilities.