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The Network Is The Computer

When I started my research Web 2.0 technologies as part of the process of teaching and learning, I am reminded of an incredible foresight, John Gage, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems. In 1984, he uttered a phrase that has become the mantra of the Sun. "The network is the computer" Put that date in perspective, 1984 was the year of the first user interface of the mass market of computer graphics (Macintosh) is published. It would be more than ten years before the graphical browser (Mosaic) would make his first appearance. The networks were the province of universities and defense. What was your thinking about Gage?

Now with the advent of Web 2.0 technology and ubiquitous WiFi access, it is very clear what it meant to Gage. For activities which most of us do most of the time, the network we have access to far more important that the entity through which access is achieved. Online, we can write (and shop and work together) documents, build spreadsheets, save and share photos, maintain collections of bookmarks, develop and deliver presentations, to publish his own work, read the news and correspond with others with almost any device that can access a wireless network. For this work, it does not matter if you use Mac, Windows or a version of Linux you just need a Web browser. Rising, he did not even need a computer in connotative meaning Phones, Pocket PCs and game machines, even can perform most of these functions.

Web 2.0 has created a major change in my thinking on the web. In the "old days" I saw the Internet as a book with a very good index. It was exciting to be able to quickly find updated information, but like all books, the information was static and one-sided. I was an observer and did not participate.

Now I see the web as a laptop, a place not only find information but also for storage. action, and even participate in its creation and dissemination. Tools like Google Notebook JetEye and allows me to keep (and share) the notes I am researching online. I can add my knowledge or comments about wikis, blog comments, access pictures of my former students, attend meetings, and subscribe to a variety of interesting information via RSS. My access device could be my laptop, but also could be my PDA or cell phone. As these devices increasingly converging in terms of functionality, it is hard to imagine a single device, without much in the form of local storage or operating system that will do everything possible. Then, the network will actually be the computer.

As educators, we must consider how to take the functionality of the web tool for students. E 'common practice in K-12 education to make "web search", in essence, a guided tour through some of the pre-selected web pages designed to answer some of the issues identified. It has 21 century equivalent to "read the chapter and answer the questions," we all suffered at school. Many teachers think that because students are encouraged to use the safety guide to find the answers, but they are "to integrate technology in classrooms." This is a "book" on the network, of which above. The problem is that most students, this approach is so twentieth century. I went beyond its own use of the Web (think Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc.) and expectations about how the web should work for them. For them, the network is an interactive medium, and have become accustomed to the participants.


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