I recently read The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin. In a nutshell, the book makes the argument for the need for society and business to prepare today for the convergence of communication and energy technologies that will once again lead to another “Industrial Revolution.”
Rifkin proposes that the next Industrial Revolution will come about when five different elements, which exist today at different levels of maturity and highlight advances in communication and energy technology, will be brought together in a new way.
He sees this happening through a convergence of renewable energy technology – buildings of all types capable of becoming micro power plants, the ability for those buildings to store intermittently generated energy combining with ability to share and consume energy by plugging into an energy sharing “intergrid,” and finally linked by transitioning the current transportation vehicles such as cars and trucks to share and consume power in this two-directional intergrid.
One of the keys to making this a reality, Rifkin believes, would be changing the educational experience. This would require moving from the current focus of helping students become competitive, autonomous and economically productive to an experience that is more focused on distributed and collaborative learning.
This approach would mirror the way students share information, ideas and experiences on the Internet in open learning spaces and social media sites. Rifkin sees this distributed and collaborative learning effort as critical preparation for those who will be participating in an economy that operates on the same set of principles and will eventually lead to a more inclusive community with empathy for the sustainability of our biosphere. The Bialik Hebrew Day School Israel Interactive Centre, under the leadership of Nurith Sela, is putting this new learning approach into practice through an International Education and Resources Network (iEARN) project known as the Daffodil and Tulip collaborative global education project.
This project was originated by Ruty Hotzen in Israel and is one of many global projects that iEARN provides for schools around the world.
In November 2011, Grade 3 Bialik students planted daffodil and tulip bulbs in the front of their school and Grade 3 students from Hashalom-Yitzhak Rabin School in Jerusalem also planted bulbs in their schoolyard.
Students from both schools will collect, communicate and share information through an iEARN provided and supervised online discussion capability. They will explore common parameters affecting plant growth at both locations, including air and soil temperature, sunlight and pollution. This collaborative learning activity is connected to Bialik’s Grade 3 science unit about plants and soil and meets the new expectations of the school’s technology curriculum for technology operation and communication, such as using digital media to communicate collaborate and share information.
This project provides the students with the opportunity to develop 21st-century learning skills. The live correspondence in Hebrew with their peers in Israel provides them with the opportunity to enrich their Hebrew vocabulary and enhance their ties with Israel. Their understanding of environmental impacts to sustainable growth, in this case of daffodils and tulips, will be a lifelong lesson.