The Urge to Merge in The Age of Connectivity

© 2001 by Lou Fournier and Lynell Burmark. All rights strictly reserved.

Abstract:

The world wants to connect. That's no small reason why technology is so appealing: suddenly much of the world is just a mouse click away. Yet connectivity must come to mean more than just machines that transcend national borders. Our technology must help us construct creative connections. This presentation explores neurological, technical, pedagogical, and humorous connections, discusses how they impact us in the classroom and in our daily lives, and shares how we can merge without becoming submerged.

The connection to neurological research was made for educators by Howard Gardner when he published his seminal work, Frames of Mind, in 1983. Thousands of teachers, as well as parents and educational researchers, embraced the concepts that the human brain houses separate capacities or "intelligences," and that each child's intelligence is actually a unique combination of these "multiple intelligences." Then, with her examination of a slice of Einstein's brain in the mid-80s, Dr. Marian Diamond provided compelling evidence that specific areas or capacities of the brain can be enlarged or increased by mental exercise. More recent research has confirmed the "plasticity" of the brain – the fact that we can continue to build and train it throughout our lives, for as long as we remain mentally active.

Technological connections provide the underlying circuitry for our high tech world. From the Coke machines in Tokyo that "modem" the warehouse with their refill orders, to the "smart" appliances whose built-in chips record performance and report problems needing repairs, devices in our daily lives are transparently "wired" to the services that keep them operational.

And what does connectivity mean for classrooms? Certainly, having access to the Internet has opened classroom windows to the world. We examine some of the more awesome resources that students now have at their fingertips. How the students use these resources is where the real excitement begins. By establishing a pattern of building connections, of creative juxtapositions, we can nurture young minds and lay the neural pathways that will empower them to be the creative geniuses of the next century.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention how the humor that enriches our lives is all about creative connections - juxtaposing words and images in new ways, that cause us to think along new lines....

Those who can see the connections, who constantly construct new, creative connections, will be the leaders in the Age of Connectivity. They will be the wise and happy citizens who enrich and empower society (and themselves!) in the twenty-first century.

Presentation type... keynote or general session
Audience................ all
Duration................. 45 to 90 minutes
Handouts................ no

Dr. Burmark will gladly tailor any presentation to your specific needs.