It just amazes me to be a witness to the emerging power of digital communication technologies in the early 21st century. Despite the frustrations many of us feel for the apparent lack of broad-based change in Schools in 2007, part of me remains VERY optimistic that we are going to see the sea change we’re hoping for in the ways our schools are structured and learning is coerced rather than encouraged in many situations today. The unbelievable power of web technologies which are now accessible to “the masses” in a relatively egalitarian (although the digital divide still certainly exists) way as long as a person has access to the web is just mind-blowing. Every person a reader, every person an author, every person a publisher, every person an actor on the world stage…. If they choose to accept that role. We’re certainly a long way from such a dream in most of our schools today, but I think we are getting closer — faster than we might imagine.

This evening I spent much my time at home online in a skype webcast and later in a live meeting held in Elluminate. During the Elluminate session, Drew Murphy mentioned the online video sharing and annotation tool MotionBox. (I think it was Drew who shared this.) I visited the site, and watched the featured video “A Fresh Wind is Blowing,” which is an interview with the videographer’s grandfather who emigrated to the United States in 1938 from Germany. Having access to this sort of first-person, oral history is phenomenal. I did not have to go to a library to hear this story, I did not have to get a special pass to a restricted section of a historical archive to experience it. I viewed it on the web. Because this story was shared in a very personal way, and was in an easily “digestible” bite-sized chunk, I watched the entire video and am sure I’ll be remembering the words of Klaus Brill for some time.

MotionBox is different from many other online video sharing websites because of the ways it lets you ENHANCE your video. According to the site:

Motionbox makes it easy to upload, organize, enhance, and share your personal videos with family, friends & groups. Personal video is about more than just home movies; it’s about capturing life — in motion and on the fly. As we all know, life doesn’t always happen in perfect, 30-second clips. So how do you dig through all your videos to get to the moments you care about most? We don’t think you should have to learn complicated editing software to share the best parts of your videos online. That’s why we’ve developed smart, simple ways to help you make the most of what you’ve shot.

Motionbox is now the seventh tool in a linked list I’ve started on my digital storytelling wiki curriculum page for tools which permit people to “edit digital stories online.” The ability to tag and annotate sections of a video, and then comment on sections as well, is VERY powerful.

ALL the students in our schools need their own laptop computers, so they can have access to digital content and the tools which permit them to not only CONSUME but also CREATE and REMIX ideas. Why are more leaders in our nation (I’m speaking as a citizen of the United States) not talking about 1:1 learning?! From what I’ve been able to tell, most public school districts in the United States are spending somewhere between $5000 and $10,000 per pupil each year for their education. Despite this phenomenally large figure, compared to the per capita expenditures on public education in many other nations, the popular perception is that 1:1 computing is just not affordable in the United States. That perception is HOGWASH.

The issue of 1:1 computing in U.S. schools is not a matter of cost, it is a matter of priorities. I’ll elaborate on this more in the next post I want to write, which specifically addresses this issue in light of expenditures on textbooks and testing materials– but for now I’ll close with this thought.

If your school district is not already supporting a 1:1 laptop learning initiative for students, it is WAY behind the curve. If all the teachers in your school district do not already have their own laptop computers, they (and your school district) are/is way behind.

Priorities. Vision. Leadership. We need all those things in great supply in our schools, and unfortunately, from where I sit they appear to be in SHORT SUPPLY in many cities and towns.

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