When does the game change?


05 August 09

When Dan Otedo was talking to our team about what he’d like us to do whilst we’re here working with teachers from Suba, he said, “Inspire us.”

No small order.

We’ve attempted to include some sort of “wowza” factor each day using a tool that’s within reach to the teachers here. To put “within reach” into perspective, on the news last night, it was announced that non-urban areas would be experiencing planned blackouts starting tomorrow from 6 AM to 6 PM because there’s not enough water to power the country’s hydroelectric plants. (The news announced that the blackouts would be two days each week starting Thursday, but left one to wonder what the other day might be.)

Today, we showed them Skype.

We’d tried the North American ubi-tool in South Africa with a 50 percent success rate. Knowing the likelihood of Kenyan wireless modem bandwidth being enough to support video or even audio chat, I opted for good ole’ text chat.

When we started here at around 8:30 AM, it was 1:37 AM on the east coast of North America. Still, Dean Shareski was awake (I don’t know why). Tyrone (an SLA student) was also online, and Chris Lehmann popped on after a plea on twitter(I love my principal). The team assembled, the exchange was interesting.

My workshop today was on using cooperative learning in the classroom, so I asked what our guests considered collaboration’s role in learning to be:

Chris Lehmann: 08:42:11

    Simply put — it means that your idea and my idea are both made better for their interaction.

Dean Shareski: 08:42:13

    Collaboration is the connecting of ideas and information with human beings. We used to just call it research.

Sharon Peters: 08:42:42

    Some called it cheating

Dean Shareski: 08:43:02

    I cheat everyday.

Tyrone Kidd: 08:43:02

    it can be.

Chris Lehmann: 08:43:05

    cheating, to me, is when person takes another person’s ideas without contributing anything.

I have to tip my hat to Chris for this last one. One of the things I’ve been bringing up over and over again here is the proposition that, if I share an idea with you, then you don’t really own it until you add to it.

A few minutes later:

Sharon Peters: 08:46:05

    question from a teacher: What do you know about Africa – Kenya in particular?

Tyrone Kidd: 08:46:22

    Not much

Chris Lehmann: 08:46:23

    Honest answer: not enough.

Dean Shareski: 08:46:35

    not much. Our view would likely be very stereotypic

Dean Shareski: 08:46:46

    This is why Skype and tools like it matter….

Dean Shareski: 08:46:56

    to be able to learn from and with all of you

Chris Lehmann: 08:47:07

    Much of the knowledge I have of Kenya beyond what I learned in school and what I see in the media is from the people I’ve met.

Tyrone Kidd: 08:48:13

    I really don’t know much about  Kenya. Would love to learn about it though.

(That’s why I love our kids.)

I was hit most, though, by two things.

1) The ability to connect and communicate in this way could will be a game changer. That goes for Kenya and North America as well. If Michael Malone is correct in The Future Arrived Yesterday and the second and third million participants in the global marketplace are about to arrive, both sides need to start having much deeper conversations about what it’s like to be us.

2) I have no idea when that game is going to change. Every school we visited last week was lacking electricity and plumbing. Two had generators, but no way to buy fuel. One could literally see the power lines, but was waiting for a transformer to be installed somewhere down the line. When we asked about the timeline for the transformer’s installation, the teacher we were talking to rolled her eyes and said she’d been told within the year, but that they were working on “Africa time.”

When it happens, it’s going to be overwhelming. When it will happen, I know not.

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