How many geeks?
I've been giving a lot of thought to just what 6geeks.net should be as a company, now that I'm freelancing full time. I've met with a lawyer and an accountant to examine options for incorporating that will save money on taxes, but, more importantly, as I move towards the creation of 6geeks.net, Inc., a corporate philosophy that goes way beyond writing like crazy for ZDNet and not getting screwed by Uncle Sam has emerged. 6geeks.net will be an umbrella for all of my writing, of course, and any income that generates. However, a number of consulting opportunities are already coalescing through which I can give real life to this corporation and where my business and educational philosophies can play out as well or better than they can in my writing. Consider the following a manifesto, if you will, for 6geeks.net, Inc., that will evolve into a clear vision and mission for this new company (and for this new phase in my professional life):
6geeks.net is more than just a domain name. 6 Geeks and a Luddite is the story of my life, an evolving tale surrounding my 5 children and the wife and mother that the 6 of us are dragging into the 21st Century kicking and screaming (we’re the geeks, she’s the Luddite). Ultimately, it will be a book, but for now, it’s an idea. If students of the 21st Century are our focus, then it’s time we changed our approach to how we educate them, not just putting computers in their hands, but guiding them towards working together successfully in a brilliantly connected world.
There are plenty of people who say this is the wrong approach to education, that we need to go back to the days of work within our own tight-knit communities, eschewing technology in education in favor of rigor, the arts, recess, or some combination thereof. My wife, our Lovely Luddite as I call her, is one of them.
However, I don’t see how these views have to be completely incompatible. The idea of community is alive and well. Technology just allows us to form communities that might not otherwise be able to exist and our lives can be richer for those communities. It’s important to note that our lives are richer for the communities, not for the technology that enables them.
In the same way, technology allows us to differentiate and individualize instruction for our students. It allows our students and the teachers and administrators who support them to collaborate more closely, forming communities of their own and ensuring that learning doesn’t have to end when the final bell rings. This doesn’t have to mean Japanese-style tutoring and study for hours a day outside of school. Informal, community-driven learning enabled by social networks and modern communication tools has extraordinary value for students and builds skills for interpersonal relationships, collaboration, teamwork, and lifelong learning. All of these are the true 21st Century Skills we hear so much about, not simply being able to create a PowerPoint presentation or put together a gnarly spreadsheet.
6geeks is a philosophy that I carry with me, whether I’m writing about educational technology or Google for ZDNet, consulting with schools and learning organizations, or writing some fictional work that I might eventually finish. It’s the idea that we can bring together the best of what technology has to offer with the best that humanity can create to make something bigger and better than we could have without the wonders of the 21st Century. It takes a Luddite to keep all 6 of us Geeks grounded. Just because we’re grounded in humanity, though, doesn’t mean we can’t seek out new and innovative solutions for our students, our colleagues, our businesses, and our communities (no matter how geographically distant they might be), riding on the tools of the Internet to make it all happen.