There is a river. On one side there are educators and on the other side there are companies building educational technology.
The river is fast-flowing, its currents are frigid. It has carved its way through stone for many years separating the two distinct lands.
On one side of this river stands a citadel, a city surrounded by tall gray stone walls. Inside these walls thrives a community of skilled craftspeople, toiling to create new tools and technologies for others to use.
On the other side, is a camp of artisans, diligently working to grow and nurture their community and ensure its future success.
Motivated at times by the potential for profit and at other times by altruism, the craftspeople of the citadel peer out from their perches, high in the towers and watch the enterprising artisans, pondering what types of tools they might need, what they could sell them, what they could share. There are times when they approach the water and yell across the river to a few nearby artisans but the roar of the rapids dulls or confuses the answers to the craftspeople’s questions. The craftspeople return to their workshops and build new objects with little knowledge of the artisan side.
Regularly, the craftspeople wrap their newest inventions in cloth and take them outside the castle walls. The packages might be covered in gold leaf or wrapped with eloquent proclamations. Regardless of its decoration, a trumpet always announces the new inventions, flags are raised and ripple in the wind. The craftspeople crank back the heavy wooden arm of a catapult and aim it towards the other side of the river.
The first trumpet blast provokes a variety of reactions on the artisan’s side. Some scramble about trying to predict how the next package might help them, where it may land. Others worry about the trajectory of the new delivery, worrying about the damage it could incur or the struggles that may ensue. Others are skeptical and remain stationary, doubting this new invention. They remember days when the trumpet would sound and nothing came. They peer cynically towards the mountainous pile of objects, previously launched from the castle, now discarded and neglected.
The trumpet sounds again and the package is launched into the air. It lands with a thud, the depth of the sound when it makes contact with the ground reveals its weight before any artisan sees the contents. The artisans find bricks and horseshoes within the gilded cloth. Some immediately pick up the objects and test their use. Some watch and slowly follow. Others sit outside their tents, merely watching the clouds move across the sky.
Soon the artisans realize the bricks do not match their architecture, the shapes are incongruent to their own They go about hacking at the bricks and bending the horseshoes to make them work as best as possible. They use the horseshoes to hammer the corners off of bricks that do not fit. They use other items from around the village, sticky resin from trees to ensure the misshapen bricks stay in place. They go about patching, combining, and mending.
Soon, however, the artisans arrive at the futility of these actions. In response to this disappointment, they yell across the river, but the rushing water swallows their comments. They send doves with messages tied to their ankles. Some don’t return perhaps plucked from the air by falcons. The artisans craft calligraphic notes, roll them into hopeful bottles and toss them from the river banks. Numerous bottles are swept away downstream, dancing in the current until they disappear out of view.
One day an enterprising artisan turns back aways from the river and stares at the pile of detritus from past packages. She decides, “We should build a bridge.”
June Labs is building a bridge that connects the designers and developers of the tech industry with teachers and administrators. We are crossing the moat and knocking on the front gate. We are creating a phrasebook so that the artisans and craftspeople may converse for the benefit of both sides.