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The World is Flat

“The World is Flat” is the title of a book by economist Thomas Friedman, but it is also a comment on the way the economic landscape is changing. With the increase in power of personal computers leading the way, we now have tools such as desk-top 3D printers, such as the one we use at school, desk-top DNA sequencers, and consumer cameras capable of detecting the motion of exo-planets:

David Schneider recently detected a planet orbiting a star 63 light years away using naught but a hinged plywood base, a stepper motor, some gears from an inkjet printer, an arduino microprocessor, and a digital camera (with telephoto lens).

So, when I say, “the world is flat,” what I mean is that every day, we are leveling the playing field. It used to be that only rich industrialists could produce the goods needed for consumers, but now we are learning how to print what we need at home. It used to be that only rail barons could deliver products to cities across the country, but now we can deliver packages with automated drones. It used to be that only high-income elites could be driven where they wanted to go in their own cars, but now we have smart automobiles that will take us just about anywhere while we read, sleep, or watch live television on our phones. It used to be that publishing giants dictated what was news and what books people would get to read, but now we can post our opinions to be examined by just about anyone on the planet. It used to be that we had to harvest the world’s oceans for fresh seafood and rely on farmers for fresh produce, but now we can install aquaponics systems on our roofs to have fresh food every day (http://www.gizmag.com/globe-hedron-rooftop-fish-farm/22492/).

Traditional education is still designed to prepare students to become employees in a hierarchical work force, with top-level managers deciding what tasks front-line employees should engage in, but now, just about any person can look at the world, figure out what work needs doing, and get to it. Agile Learning Centers are educating students for this flat, more entrepreneurial and more collaborative economy.

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