Saturday, April 19, 2008

Digital Nomads - Knowledge Workers of the Future

I have been up since 5:00 am reading blogs, Twittering and changing the appearance of my blog and avatar. I really don't have time to all of this but it's becoming a compulsion. However, I have been limiting it to the weekends. Sometimes I wish I were more of a Ludite :-)

The Economist magazine ( April 12 -18) had a 14 page special report section on Mobile Telecoms (this is the print version - we get it at home). You can access the opening article online and the other articles are posted to the right of the page on a side bar.

We now have a third term to add to our 2.0 vocabulary: digital nomads (the other two are digital natives [kids who have grown up with technology] and digital immigrants [us]). When we think about how our students' future will look, the era of office cubicle may be coming to an end. Basically the report outlines how more and more business is being transacted through Blackberries and mobile phones, how paper documents are no longer needed because they can be stored online and accessed from anywhere. In Working from Anywhere (one of the side bar articles), the author states:

"James Ware, a co-founder of the Work Design Collaborative, a small think-tank, says that nomadic work styles are fast becoming the norm for “knowledge workers”. His research shows that in America such people spend less than a third of their working time in traditional corporate offices, about a third in their home offices and the remaining third working from “third places” such as caf├ęs, public libraries or parks. And it is not only the young and digitally savvy. At 64, Mr Ware considers himself a nomad, and accesses the files on his home computer from wherever he happens to be. "

So what does this mean as educators? We need to re-think how we ask students to do things and incorporate 'digital workplaces' if we want to prepare students for the future. How can we use our libraries as meeting places and collaborative spaces (libraries as corporate offices - interesting thought)? Again, I see the tools of blogs, wikis, google docs, RSS, etc. as being ways to support students for this new information landscape (David Warlick's term).

Lastly, I just have to share this link to an article in the Journal of the Research Centre for Educational Technology out of Kent University. It's a small study that outlines how they used technology in a primary research project - very short article but clearly outlines the project and provides links to pdf files that can be used in the classroom. It's called Using Digital Tools to Support Children's Inquiry. This was posted by M. Guhlin on Twitter.

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