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“How Technology Evolves” and Montessori Education

Many people wouldn’t associate computers with Montessori education, but students in our STEM program explore the connections between technology integration and the needs, interests, and possibilities of work students in Montessori settings might do.  Here one of our graduate students explores material that dances with various considerations of how to conceptually understand today’s technology. 

 

After watching and listening to Kevin Kelly give his presentation titled “How Technology Evolves”, I was struck by the connections to the Montessori curriculum, specifically in the area of biology. He theorizes that technology could be considered the 7th Kingdom, in addition to fungi, plants, animals, etc. I must admit, I was skeptical at first. I thought, “How can technology, which to me seems so mechanical and man-made, be thought of as a kingdom, as something that is living?” However, as he explained his theory, it began to make sense. Organisms move toward specialization, and become more complex, diverse and social; the same is true of technology. For example, the internet is not just used for finding or posting information, but it is also used for connecting and collaborating with other people (i.e. social media, the growth of online classes).

Kelly makes another interesting connection to the Montessori curriculum when he talks about technology being a cosmic force. Hmm….seems to me that Maria Montessori had some ideas about cosmic education. In his lecture, Kelly says, “Somewhere today there are millions of children being born whose technology of self-expression has not been invented.” (2005) Furthermore, he shared a power point slide that expressed that technology provides us with options, choices, opportunities, possibilities and freedoms. As educators, can we incorporate the use of technology in our classrooms to help give children a cosmic education, one in which they can explore, discover, create and imagine?

In the You Tube video “The Machine is Us/ing Us”, Michael Wesch, an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, explains how the web has evolved from a “read only” platform to an interconnected platform where people can upload and share not just text, but also photos and videos. I learned a lot about how at first, web sites were written in HTML, and now they are written in XML. What’s the difference? With XML, data can be exported because form is separated from content, making it possible for everyday users to upload content. It’s not only text that can be exported, but also photos and videos (think blogs, You Tube).   Good thing a person can pause, rewind and replay these videos!

What is the semantic web? I found that in order to understand “A Story about the Semantic Web” by Kate Ray that I had to look up the word after I watched the video. Then I watched the first part of the video again for a second time, and it became more definitive. First of all, the semantic web is an idea that the web can be more intelligent and even more intuitive about how to best serve users. This concept is an idea of the web inventor, a physicist by training, whose name is Tim Berners-Lee. I had not known this previously, so I found it very interesting. At the beginning of the video, the narrator says, “The core problem is our ability to create information has far exceeded our ability to manage it.”   This statement expresses perfectly my conundrum with technology! How do I use it in a way that will actually make me more efficient? How can I easily incorporate technology into my classroom, without having it consume endless amounts of precious time? The idea is to transform the web into more of a database, an index of sorts. Back to tried-and-true technology, the old-fashioned index located in the back of reference books!

Kelly, K. (2005). How Technology Evolves. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_kelly_on_how_technology_evolves

Ray, K. (2011). A Story about the Semantic Web. Retrieved from Vimeo: drop.io/web3point0

Wesch, M. (2007). The Machine is Us/Ing Us. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLIGopyXT_g


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