When I found the podcast, I thought it is interesting because it is hosted by International Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk, one of only 11 women in the world to hold that title. You get to hear her recount the recent world championships and talk about strategy.
First of all, this demonstrates the ability to connect through the land of the Internet. A few years ago, an erudite world like chess would have been far distant from a boy living in a remote small town like me. Now I can go to her website, listen to her podcast, download hear latest games, and even see the photos that have been posted in her galleries (all 6 000+ of them!). Second, this also speaks to me about the ability to position a podcast, a website, or any other networked electronic resource in a specific niche. If you can make it, it will have an audience of some size.
. . . This demonstrates the reality of the changes in communication. It is not about the information produced by "dead white guys." It is our information. Our Stories. Being produced around the globe. Now.
I haven't talked about the "long tail" yet (had to save something for next year!), but this is another example of it. I think this is very important to keep in mind for our students' futures (and ours) for two reasons. First, because of the incredible resources that are (and will be) available to them. It truly is a different world than the one we grew up in and I don't think our curriculum and teaching practices reflect that. Did you have the opportunity to learn from a Russian Chess Grandmaster when you were a kid?
Second, I also think we need to be careful not to lose sight of the idea of our students as producers of information as well. The long tail works both ways - they can take ownership and responsibility for producing high-quality information that is presented to a small (or large) audience on the web. In either case, it's more of an authentic audience, and I think that's critical. As long as our students still see their schoolwork as something they produce for their teacher, we will rarely (if ever) see the kind of work (and thinking) that our students are capable of. It's that type of work (and thinking) that they will need to be able to do in order to be successful in the 21st century. And if they can't . . . well, I'm afraid it's checkmate.
Listen to the podcast.