This is a very thought provoking excerpt of an interview with Joshua Cooper Ramo in the Chronicle. You can listen to the interview from there as well. He touches on some important themes, one of which is the power of networks. So in one sense it comes down to, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know, your network. I think this has been a theme in technology circles for awhile. If you know the right people those connections are more important than a degree. We can see this in technology, if you know how to program, have connections, you can get a job through those connections. And I think keeping this idea in mind is important, as I said yesterday as we’re at or nearing the 27th day. But as educators we’re also at a point where that isn’t quite yet true. You could have lots of connections and without a college degree and state certifications you can’t teach, or be a medical doctor, or an architect. Or as a society do we yet want a teacher, doctor, or architect only with connections? So yes, this is something which is occurring, it is something which will presumably occur more frequently which we should keep in mind for its impact on education, but for many of our students they don’t have those connections nor will they be filling jobs which see it like that. For now.
What about that old skill notetaking? I’ll admit I am very bad at notetaking, but luckily good at listening and remembering. That doesn’t mean most people are, and it is a skill which needs practice. Should I write down everything? Will it be on the test? And so George Williams in the Chronicle offers some thoughts and a little advice on helping students take good notes, reminding them (or telling them for the first time) why they should take note.
We should admit when we were wrong, so I’ll go ahead. In 2007 I wrote a paper for a graduate class on global Englishes. The paper was talking about a, then, new book by David Crystal. In it he postulated that within a decade we would have devices, like the Babblefish from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series, which would allow live translation of foreign language. And as a newer graduate student with some knowledge of technology and languages I was absolutely sure that this renowned scholar was wrong, that could never happen. And over the last decade I have seen some impressive Google translations of text, Skype live translations of Spanish, and now the Pilot from Waverly Labs. (which is a lot like an inanimate Babblefish) So I can now say that the renowned scholar knew more than the newer grad student. Of course as this technology expands and improves it will have a massive effect on foreign language programs. We will say, well learn Spanish or German because it helps you think better, or score better on this graduate school exam, just like Latin. Of course it will also open numerous opportunities for people to exchange information and share around the world. So now I’m a lot more open to things like this and excited about them. And I finally grown up enough to say I was wrong and David Crystal was so right.
Finally I’ll share a joint blog post from OOCRL and CGS at the University of Illinois. For full disclosure I did present at one of the events over the summer, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting faculty from around the country. I think it is important to consider who our students are. When I work with faculty on redesigning courses one of the first steps is identifying situational factors. If most of your students are minority students, or first time college students, or male or female it should be in your mind as you design your courses. This does not and should not have an effect on the rigor of a course, but could effect your design, or potential scaffolding within the course. So as the first part of the post discusses, it is important to remember our student demographics, and think about that as a resource and opportunity as we help others learn about globalization.