The Shift Happens folks have been producing thought provoking videos since 2007, they currently have produced five versions on the same theme. The theme is the globalization and shifts in society. The question I always come back to when watching these is how do we as educators answer to these shifts? Below is the fourth version of their video, published in fall of 2009.
One of the key points that Shift Happens continues to hit upon is that "individuals have more control, more capacity to create and to connect than in any era in history" (Siemens, 2006, p. 72). With the vast amount of information available to humans at their fingertips, learning at this point in history is radically changing. Siemens outlined in the video Future of Distance Education that one of the hallmark characteristics of the identity of distance education is collaborative interactions. With the increased possibilities to connect with other people the potential for collaborative works are at an all time high.
The Internet is the main engine that has expanded the possibilities to collaborate. Prior to the Internet connecting with others was limited by the network of people that you worked with, or knew. Today, collaboration is limitless. So the potential for collaboration has evolved from the network of people you knew within your own physical space, to the never ending reaches of the Internet. There are social networks where a person can connect with people who share their same interestes. There are countless blogs, forums, and websites dedicated to the most obscure topics. From these blogs, forums, websites, and social networking sites come the potential for collaboration.
Once the connections have been made via the Internet to collaborate, the people do not ever actually need to meet in person to accomplish their work. Through the use of video conferencing tools such as Skype, or online chat programs such as AOL Instant Messanger, and online collaborative word processing software such as Google Docs a collaborative project can be completed without ever having to meet in person. Prior to the advances of the Internet these collaborative projects would either have to be emailed back and forth through attached documents, or mailed through the postal system. With the advances of the Internet collaboration is literally at a persons fingertips and only limited by the imaginations of the people working together.