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Learning About Technology, Public Engagement, and Independence ... From a Comedian

Real world success stories are the most convincing testaments for the potential of technology. We can learn a lot by examining the success of specific individuals and see if any lessons can be applied to education.

The latest success story comes from comedian Louis CK. While learning about technology and education from a comedian might seem different, this comedian is very insightful when it comes to looking at how we use technology in our lives.

His classic technology rant "Everything is Amazing and Nobody's Happy" is humorously and uncomfortably accurate.

This week, Louis CK has given us new insights on technology. He created, produced, and marketed his latest comedy show online directly to the people for $5, bypassing all traditional media companies.

The result? Over $500,000 in sales in the first two days.

But it was not all about money. In his personal statement reflecting on this project, Louis CK is honest in pointing out that given his status, he could have made more money just being paid by a large entertainment company, but the fans would have paid more for the content. He was also upfront in the not using any digital protections, instead appealing directly to his fans to just pay the modest $5 and not pirate the show.

The success of this project was significant enough to be publicized on CNN and Business Week.

This is an example of an individual bypassing the traditional media companies. This is about direct access and financial independence.

Louis CK's effort is now considered an exemplar on the power of technology to reach the public directly.

Can educators and classroom teachers use technology in similar ways to engage the public about education?

Louis CK gives important insights on what it took to create his video. There was a high level of production and expertise required in securing a venue, creating a professional recording, and securing a method for the public to access and pay for the video. There was considerable upfront investment in time and money.

Of course, Louis CK has a level of celebrity status that ensured people would be interested in such content, making the initial investment worth the potential risks.

So with the right status, message and means, this direct engagement with the public is possible.

Teachers, Technology, & Independence

Perhaps, someday, more individual classroom teachers will use technology to amplify their knowledge and expertise about education and learning. Public access and technology will allow a level of voice and financial security.

It's already happening in some parts of the world with examples such as the teacher millionaires in South Korea who earn money from subscribers.

Will this level of success and independence happen in the United States?

These are the great hypothetical questions for the future of education. After all, if teachers don't develop this voice, independence, and level of direct public engagement, who will control how education and learning is designed and accessed in the future?

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