Friday, October 7, 2011

I saw the world go flat and didn't even notice......

Currently I am taking a course at the University of Northern Iowa, Emerging Instructional Technologies, and we have been talking about the concept of a Flat Classroom. For those of you reading who may not be in the same class the idea of a flat classroom is one that through connectivity and technology can exist with students from all areas of the world. Students from India can work with students in the United States on projects because the barriers that once prevented this from happening have been removed due to technology. For additional information on the flat classroom click here Flat classroom Project for a more in-depth look. The concept of flattening that is going on in the world was articulated by Thomas Friedman, see his in depth discussion on flattening here The World is Flat.

Friedman identifies ten items that he calls flatteners, or things that have happened to bring down thee barriers of distance and accessibility for the people of the world. During this video and reading up on this flat concept I realized that I was a part of, or merely a cog in the wheel of a part of, flattening. I had a front row seat to some of his observations and I did not even know it.

From 2003 until 2009 I was employed by a company called Pindar in the Cedar Rapids area. OK in reality it was called many things during that time but for consistency in the story we will call it Pindar. Pindar was the ad design and prepress division of YellowBook USA. The same YellowBook USA that once a year delivers a phone book to your doorstep that you can use for a beverage coaster, paperweight, or in some rare cases to locate local business and personal addresses and phone numbers although I hear this internet thing does the same thing without the hassle of physically turning pages. While working there a couple things happened that, at the time, didn't mean all that much. First off in 2003 when I started the company had just started to send work to the UK (Pindar was based in the UK) for the artists to complete the ads. Later on the company began sending more work overseas. Eventually the majority of the work was being sent out to be completed, Bangalore, The Philippines, and areas of Peru. At the time it was happening I never fully grasped the idea that was underlying, the world was getting flat. According to Friedman "Offshoring: Running with the Gazelles, Eating with Lions" is one of the flatteners that he describes. The fact that during the dot-com era everyone was laying the groundwork for connectivity, and that these countries that were once so far were now only a click away.

I was watching it all go down and I never truly grasped what was happening. I never looked at it in the way Friedman explains. I wonder in all of my time so far, what else did I miss? Anyone else see this happen but not see it happen in a similar way? I hope I'm not the only one, I always thought I was fairly perceptive.


  1. Sometimes I think this may happen to the traditional classroom teacher. I feel as if I will be able to adapt even more than I already have, but I can see the termination of the traditional school. Some day in the future, every town could have that ghost building that used to be a school. I wonder what they would do with all the empty schools? Maybe that won't happen, but as you said, it can sneak up on you pretty quickly.

  2. It is true. Inexpensive tutoring and instruction are already available online from India, Japan, Mexico, or anywhere in the world. It is weird to see this happening right before your eyes and not recognize it. That is what happened to Friedman. Now that we see what is happening, we can do something about profiting from it.