technology that brings learning back to the living

Every reference I can find for the etymology of the word technology has to do with, “art, skill, or craft.” Technique comes from the same root. Any system of making or doing requires qualities such as dedication, skill, and patience. Technique/technology is all about purpose and cleverness. Tools and computers are sometimes included, but not required.

But whenever I hear people talk about education technology they focus on the latest software that promises to accelerate learning.

Halloween Tech

In this way, most edtech is a lot like Halloween: false, passé, and occasionally dangerous.

On Halloween people dress up as something they’re not and demand treats for their effort. We act as if the ritual is perfectly normal, because tradition.  We make light of their intended deceptions and throw treats in their pillowcases, plastic pumpkins, IPOs, and crypto wallets.

Maybe it’s because we don’t know better. Or we’re afraid they’ll TP our house or troll us online.

Halloween is commercial. Like many Americanized holidays, Halloween sells consumption of plastic, sugar, and alcohol. Celebrate! Lower your inhibitions and get crazy, yeah baby.

The history of Halloween hardly ever enters the conversation unless it’s Ichabod Crane or the Great Pumpkin.

Modern is sometimes overrated.

Dias de los Muertos Tech

Los Dias de los Muertos, like Open-Source Learning, is all about integrating worlds and honoring our connections with people.

Watching the light dim and the plants die at this time of year led brings death to mind. Historically, as people opened that door in their thinking and looked past their own boundaries, they came to believe that the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world thinned as well. Like Beltaine and Samhain in Ireland, Los Dios de los Muertos celebrates the thinner boundary between worlds that makes it easier for the spirits to join us in celebration.

The Technology de los Muertos – the means through which people symbolized this belief system – is designed to reveal, not to conceal. Instead of wearing masks to conceal our real identity or assume a different one, Los Dias de los Muertos costumes and ofrendas are designed to call attention, to invite the spirits and each of us into connection.

Say Hello to my Little Ofrenda

The ways we design and construct ofrendas combine pre-Hispanic Aztec rituals with more recent additions from Catholicism and popular culture. Posada didn’t draw La Catrina until the early 1900s. However, the marigolds – called cempasúchil by the Aztecs – have been used for centuries to call the dead back home.

The ofrendas we build, the food we make, the clothes and makeup we wear, and the music we play – these are all forms of social media. We bring our attention to symbols that convey belonging and meaning.

This is the ofrenda in my house:

Open-Source Learning Tech

When they’re sitting in closed classrooms, students are no more connected to the off-campus community than we are to the spiritual world. Or Antarctica.

Open-Source Learning thins the veil between your learning community and the rest of the world. We can connect with peers, resources, and even mentors in faraway realms that were once closed to us.

The OSL tech game is bigger than the players and it’s all about integrity. When we curate our learning, we’re not dressing up as something we’re not – we are creating offerings that put ideas, skills, and people on display. To paraphrase (the spirit of) Newton, if we can see further it’s because we are standing on the shoulders of giants, many of whom are no longer with us.

Lastly, OSL – like Los Dias de los Muertos – is all about using the tools of our age to tell a story compelling enough to bring worlds together. A decade ago we used the basic public internet. As tools and popular culture evolved, so have we: Blogs. Mind maps. Digital whiteboards. Etherpads. The Fediverse.

We now have the Open-Source Learning Academy Protocol – protocol, not platform – because we understand collaboration and curation is about much more than tools. It’s a process. First, we acknowledge each other and work to clarify our purpose. Then we select the right tools for the job, and we purposefully use those tools to bring our visions to life.

Students are passive, obedient players of the school game, shuffling around with their backpacks, playing tricks and hoping for a treat. If there is ever a zombie apocalypse, I guarantee it’s going to start in passing period hallways.

Today – every day, really – we invite the learning dead to unite in the world of the living thinkers. Join us! Explore and curate an interdisciplinary legacy that will be remembered as long as there is a server to store it.