Despite a few technological hiccups, the opening session of SXSWedu "On the Horizon: Harnessing Emerging Technologies in Education" demonstrated the usefulness of connectivity in sharing ideas via LifeSize (Logitech) teleconferencing services.
The audio-video link allowed SXSWedu to join the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) in Washington, D.C., and Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) in Austin for a three-way conversation about technology and education. The session dialed in on global networking and how it affects learning and teaching, as well as the importance of how the world links together to share new ideas.
Dr. Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium gave a discourse on the findings of the "Horizon Report," which documents emerging technologies. (You can download the NMC Horizon Report app on iTunes.) He said that “our strategic thinking is based on a world that no longer exists” and that it is critical to better understand trends of how students, young children and educators interact with technology.
Johnson also stressed that there is a new distinction being made between being a user of the network and being the network itself, saying, "the network is us." He used his personal photography as metaphors to display the idea that while much of the world is in the "light," there are still some dark spots and shadowy perspectives on technological progress.
Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader 21 and founding president of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, spoke about technology allowing people to connect philanthropically.
He shared an anecdotal story about his friendship with poopstrong.org founder Arijit Guha, a 31-year-old Ph.D student at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University who has been fighting Stage IV colon cancer for the past year. Through the internet, Guha was able to raise enough money through private donations to pay for chemotherapy treatments.
The speakers' messages seemed to be that technology, despite some of its drawbacks, is ultimately a good thing and a useful tool for the betterment of society.