Message aside, a skeptic may point to this very session as an example of the perils of distance learning, primarily due to inadequate technology: a video-based WebEx conference with accompanying speaker-phone. Although we comprised two invested parties, a combination of poor audio and video fidelity compromised communication. This became immediately apparent when Dr. Bonk began referring to invisible slides, prompting an investigation of the technology itself. This resulted in an agreement wherein we would manually advance the presentation slides at his direction. More critically, we found it particularly difficult to pose inline questions, as most attempts to visually or aurally gain Dr. Bonk's attention were met with failure.
Nonetheless, further reflection suggests that this learning opportunity provided a net positive value, particularly given that we formed a mature, willing, and engaged collective. Despite technical difficulties, Dr. Bonk's message, and, more importantly, his passion, were evident to those of us in the audience. We clearly learned from this exchange, and at least one student walked away with an increased understanding of the state of web-based collaborative technologies and their potential to enlighten the world.
One example of the proliferation of ideas that would not have been possible without this exchange, commenced with Dr. Bonk's casual reference that multiple notable innovators (ranging from Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com to Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google) emerged from Montessori educational systems. This reinforced, in me, the critical role played by creativity in the advancement of society, and caused me to wonder if the Montessori curriculum expressed some of the elusive characteristics of the Creative Domain of Learning (which I proposed in Week 3, and expanded upon in Week 6). As a result of the transmission of a single idea, I commenced a cursory search of the Montessori methodology, and found the following relevant assumptions (source):
- Children are capable of self-directed learning.
- Children learn through discovery to correct their own mistakes instead of relying on a teacher to give them the correct answer.