The Evolution of the Internet

It’s an interesting time, because the myspace.com uproar and response have made us all a bit more conscious about formal and informal student computer use. Overall, I think this is good, as long as we don’t fall asleep again once the news moves on to the next “bleeds it leads” story.

My general feeling is that VREs (virtual reality environments) are going to be a significant part of our future. As the general processing power of our systems increases, as well as our bandwidth, what other profitable horizons are there? According to Wired, there are some who have already found a way to make a living in SecondLife: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70153-0.html.

If I’m not mistaken, there are some companies that have opened stores in SecondLife, so that you can research, discuss, purchase and have goods shipped to your home. If the Apple Store were to move into this environment, and the imagined growth in enrollment occurs, I wonder if we’ll laugh someday about the quaint “2D” Internet we used to use.

As for students, I hope that the entire IM scenario doesn’t play out again. We can all ignore SecondLife and it competition, be reactive instead of proactive, and in general allow new communication mediums to be shaped more by our children than by our social or educational systems. Jason’s correct that this is simply an evolution of gaming software and 3D environments that many kids have already spent considerable amounts of time to explore.

As educators, we can’t track down every new development, and I’m not in perfect agreement with Prensky. However, I’d rather be proactive and thoughtful before new systems reach critical mass (myspace.com, and others). Not all will become part of the educational experience, but it seems unlikely that none will, unless we all decide that the bunker approach is fruitful and rewarding.

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