Monday, May 26, 2008

The Borg of Education (Trek, not Travian)

I was reading Liz Davis's blog post on "Collective Intelligence" and was thinking about writing a related post. My husband jokingly told me that I should title my blog post "The Borg of Education" (I laughed out loud). For those who didn't follow Star Trek, here is a definition from Wikipedia:
The Borg are depicted as an amalgam of cybernetically enhanced humanoid drones of multiple species, organized as an inter-connected collective with a hive mind, inhabiting a vast region of space with many planets and ships, and sophisticated technology. They operate towards one single-minded purpose: to add the biological and technological distinctiveness of other species to their own, in pursuit of perfection. This is achieved through forced assimilation, a process which transforms individuals and technology into Borg, enhancing individuals by adding synthetic components.

The Borg were a collective, which is why Liz's title caught my eye. I think that there are teachers who view people in my position (technology integration specialists) as the Borg of education, trying to assimilate them & their ideas into the collective where they will lose their creativity and individuality to technology.

How can I/we help teachers see that being part of the collective, especially in technology integration, actually expands the horizons of creativity and gives each of us a place to add our own unique voice & perspective? Do they see assimilation where I see adaptation?

Sometimes technology tools do force us to conform. Wikis are sometimes rigid in layout options, for example. Electronic gradebooks force us to work within certain parameters. Search engines (used effectively) require a certain syntax. However, the ways we can use these tools are dynamic, robust, & infinitely creative. And when we can share what we are doing with "the collective," the collective itself becomes more dynamic, robust, and creative.

Perhaps I am part of the Borg of education, not in the ominous Star Trek way but in the collective intelligence way that Liz Davis has mentioned. I believe we're stronger when we share, and I believe that we have the power (as a collective) to make sweeping changes in an antiquated system. I believe that enhancing what we do with technology is incredibly powerful for learning because kids are already "wired."

And, ultimately, I believe that "resistance IS futile." ;-)