The Disappearance of Location-Based Learning

Speaking of coding (as I was in the previous entry), Wired recently posted an interesting opinion piece speculating about how Software is Reorganizing the World.

The whole article is worth a read for the author’s observation of how people today are “migrating” their lives into cloud communities, not unlike their ancestors who moved physically between continents.

However, what caught my attention is his central thesis, one that could very well apply to our education system.

Technology is thus enabling arbitrary numbers of people from around the world to assemble in remote locations, without interrupting their ability to work or communicate with existing networks. In this sense, the future of technology is not really location-based apps; it is about making location completely unimportant. [emphasis mine]

Take that idea and substitute learning for apps: “the future of school is not really location-based learning; it is about making location completely unimportant”.

“Location-based learning” is pretty much the definition of school. What happens to our traditional concept of “school” when technology advances to the point that location becomes completely unimportant to learning?

Something to think about.

Comments

  1. says

    This may be true for more urban areas (and east of the Mississippi), but as someone who does a significant amount of work with rural schools, I don’t see place-based learning going away anytime soon. For example, with 1 in 6 of Washington districts having less than 200 students…many in areas where there is only dial-up Internet outside of the school (and no cell phone towers)…technology really isn’t a transformative factor.

    Maybe the bigger story in all of this is what happens when only some kids have access to anytime, anywhere learning.

    • Linda says

      I agree with Tara. Here in Vermont, a sense of place is critical to the learning that happens every day in my K-8 school. Our school grounds contain a nature center, an 80 acre forest, and a river. The place-based learning focus we have integrates technology in an effort to transform perspectives and learning. Dr. Zhao has urged us to find our local niche and go global with it through technology — and that is exactly what we are trying to do. That would be impossible without our place-based focus. Location, location, location…..

    • says

      You’re right that, at least in the near term, the more important story may be the divide between students with enough bandwidth (home and mobile) to have options of where and when they learn, and those without. We may see that group with options disappearing from physical school sooner than we expect.

  2. says

    “What happens to our traditional concept of ‘school’ when technology advances to the point that location becomes completely unimportant to learning?”

    Um, we rely on the justification of child care rather than learning for the existence of schools?

    • says

      Based on parent complaints when we have weather-related school closings (like today for extreme low temperatures), we probably already have a small set who view us as little more than public child care. :-)

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