Monday, May 14, 2007

The Encyclopedia of Life - Wiki

The Encyclopedia of Life just crossed my desk and reminds me of how incredibly powerful the web has become as an information resource.

The Press Release page has some great media elements and information on the project.

From the press release:
WASHINGTON (May 9, 2007) – Many of the world’s leading scientific institutions today announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life, an unprecedented global effort to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. For the first time in the history of the planet, scientists, students, and citizens will have multi-media access to all known living species, even those that have just been discovered.

Over the next 10 years, the Encyclopedia of Life will create Internet pages for all 1.8 million species currently named. It will expedite the classification of the millions of species yet to be discovered and catalogued as well. The pages, housed at http://www.eol.org, will provide written information and, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information on each species. Built on the scientific integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the Encyclopedia will be a moderated wiki-style environment, freely available to all users everywhere.
So, we start with all of the species of the world and then perhaps we move on to Geology? All I know is that at some point ALL of the possible information required for K-12 will be available via the the net. So...then what? How are the educators of the old-school going to handle that?

This truly makes me wonder if David Williamson Shaffer is right?

Shaffer, D. W. (2004). Pedagogical praxis: The professions as models for post-industrial education. Teachers College Record, 106(7), 1401-1421. http://coweb.wcer.wisc.edu/cv/papers/TCRpedprax.pdf

Or how our children need to learn my "doing" and "becoming" from his book How computer games help children learn.

I'm not sure we can turn the ship that quickly, but from what I've seen parents are taking their kids off the ship. Virtual schools are growing like crazy, and home schooling is not so scary any more. School used to be a resource for learning. But today when your computer provides infinitely more learning possibilities than any brick and mortar can provide it makes me wonder why more aren't jumping off the ship.
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