Friday’s Chronicle of Higher Education article “E-Mail is for Old People” raises again the issue that digital natives have moved beyond email as a communication modality and now principally embrace instant messaging, digital social networking, and cell phones. (Link via CogDog.)

I think email is still highly relevant, however, especially for digital immigrants (like most teachers.) So many new tools continue to come on the scene, now we have a growing group of people talking about interactions they are having in “SL” (Second Life)– and most people still don’t know what blogs and podcasts are, or how they can and likely should fit into a personal learning landscape.

My interactions and learning activities today as a participant in Global Learn Day have driven this home. I think it is fantastic that the synchronous presentations and dialog have been supplemented with a text chat environment provided via Tappedin.org. Tapped In is an extensive global network of educators that have been collaborating for years in primarily a text-based environment. Yes, podcasting, blogging, and streaming videos are powerful tools– but there is a lot to be said about “simplicity” and the communication modalities which remain “common denominators” for most people. Email fits into this category. Text-based chat may not be in the “personal learning comfort zone” of many teachers TODAY, but it may be for more teachers than currently consider themselves active members of the edublogosphere, for example.

I will be posting more on some of the thoughts I’ve had from the GREAT presentations shared during Global Learn Day soon– but for now I will observe that a big part of what we need to be doing individually and collectively is EXTENDING THE CONVERSATIONS. I may be in the minority here, but until about a week ago I had never heard about Global Learn Day, and it has been going on for 9 years. I sense that there are many groups “out there” in the world, online, and not online, with shared goals for improving access to and the quality of educational opportunities for learners of all ages. Our collective abilities to collaborate and share with the formidable and growing array of communication tools at our fingertips is extremely exciting. It is also quite heady to be sitting at home on a weekend here in Edmond, Oklahoma, and be participating in a global conference event.

I started a Global Learn Day wiki to provide a space for documenting identified issues and solutions (real takeaways) during the event. Feel free to add to this if you want.

Amidst all these conversations, my initial point was: Email is still relevant! Tools are changing and will continue to change, but I think we have to have a good level of understanding and respect for the comfort levels of involved learners, and utilize communication modes which are not TOO far “out there” on the bleeding age of innovation. The Global Learn Day organizers have done a great job of this, providing people with the option of calling in to the event via traditional phone lines, via skype, or listening in via webstreaming audio.

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