“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love”. – Hamilton Wright Mabie
It’s Christmas Eve – so I thought I’d spend a moment contemplating on something other than eLearning and the use of ICT in education. This will be the first Christmas that I haven’t had my full family around me – the picture above is of a corn-doll nativity scene which we have set up in our house, a gift from my second eldest daughter who is spending Christmas helping out in an orphanage in El Salvador where she spent 3 months of last year also.
Thus the reason for the quote above. We truly live in an age of paradox, where here in NZ the big news of the evening is that we’ve broken all records for spending this Christmas, while in other parts of the world there are those who are starving or victims of war and disease. It can all seem a bit depressing and overwhelming – yet there is evidence also that this season, despite its crass consumerism, evokes, for many, a strong feeling of concern for others which is exhibited in a variety of ways.
I really like the notion of a conspiracy of love. At our Christmas Eve church service this evening we took a special offering for the TEAR fund project in Darfur, where over 2.5 million people are caught up in the most devastating humanitarian crisis of the century so far. I found myself thinking about the work I do with eLearning, and what a distant thought this must be for those involved at the heart of such tragedies. Sure, education must be a part of the restorative journey for these people – but only after they’ve been fed, clothed and housed. And then only after the causes of the wars and famines are addressed in the first place. Imagine what could be achieved there through a conspiracy of love?
I began thinking how easy it is to become excited about the fact that Twitter now has a new feature called “TwitThis”, or that Google has added new features to its Google Reader, or that Google has added 23 language translation ‘bots’… but at the end of the day, what are these things really worth to us unless we are able to use them in ways that contribute to the development of a decent society, and the spreading of this conspiracy of love?
I believe that eLearning and ICT does have a role to play – particularly in educating our 21st century learners about what is happening in the world around them, and engaging them in ways of finding solutions and taking action. There are, of course, the obvious things we could do, like make greater use of online activist games in our classrooms, engaging in Global Classroom projects such as Taking IT Global or using e-media as a catalyst for dialogue and social change.
Perhaps there’s a challenge that I can make for the year ahead – to take these wonderful tools and resources that we have access to in the eLearning world, and use them in ways that may profoundly alter the ways in which our students think about the world, their part in it and the things they might do to help spread a conspiracy of love within it.
Merry Christmas to you all!