It has been amusing for the past 10 years to smirk and say “Well, this internet thing – it’s just a fad…” when discussing educational policy with print advocates. The reality is far more sobering and frankly more uplifting than the arch cynicism of the joke.
Below is a chart showing internet usage around the world and the growth since 2000. Staggering growth is an understatement. While we reach saturation in North America (at about 70% of the population) Africa is only at 5.6% and Asia is at 17.2% and already has has the most users of any area even at this low penetration level.
I’m inspired by this data – it speaks to a potential for building connections between people that is expanding at a dramatic rate. In the world of education this brings home how essential the skills of communication, team building, and diversity already are and how central they will be to the world today’s First Graders inherit.
This growth also means there will be millions more voices we can listen to easily – making sense of this is one of the central challenges of our time as educators and as a culture.
Let’s use our powers for good.
Hat tip to John Hamalka for this graphic at the Life as a Healthcare CIO blog. I find his insights about IT in healthcare provide advance warning of what we will see in education. He also does a “Cool Technology of the Week” post every week that I enjoy.