Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Foggy Ideas

Most of us know about disruptive technologies—those innovations like cell phones and MP3 players that upset the old way of doing things. Disruptive technologies often start in one domain and then jump to another as creative users put them to new purposes. Inevitably, these technologies make their way to the classroom where educators can either embrace them as learning tools or spend time trying to outlaw or confiscate them.

But what if we turned the tables and went looking for disruptive ideas to shake up learning environments? Here’s a wild idea that seems ripe for borrowing—at least metaphorically.

In the desert highlands of Chile, villagers use a device that looks like a giant volleyball net to harvest clean water from the cloud cover that hangs over the region. Fogcatchers use polypropylene mesh to capture this precious resource, one drop at a time. Water droplets eventually fill community reservoirs, supplying this once-parched region with a clean, sustainable source of water for drinking and farming.

What does this have to do with education? Imagine being able to somehow “harvest” those learning opportunities that seem just out of reach. A fogcatcher for the classroom—can’t you almost see it? Don’t you want one?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do want one. I want one at night to catch those ideas that I have (brilliant of course) that trail off into the ether never to be seen again. I want one for the unspoken ideas that float around a group when others are talking. I want one for just outside the classroom, in the community, to catch the possibilities of connections of people walking by, and what they may have to offer kids... great idea. What woul dit look like?