[iDC] how to open up education

Stephen Downes stephen at downes.ca
Sun Jun 20 00:21:32 UTC 2010


 From the book...

> So let us be specific. We propose significant sums of federal funding 
> be used to
> extend the open source realXtend code base, and to create a network of
> community centers, two for each state. These bricks and mortar 
> buildings, and
> the business that will grow up around each center, will support all 
> maintenance
> costs for a next generation immersive Virtual World (iVW) system. ...
> The "EducationWorlds.com" branding may be developed so that people 
> will know
> about the Bridge between High School and College. Once this branding is
> established, continuing funding will be generated locally as a 
> function of these
> state funded community centers, and for profit franchises that are 
> proto-typed by
> the two centers. The two centers per state will prototype tea and 
> coffee shops,
> where significant telecommunication capacity will be open to the 
> public. In each
> state, the community center will be franchised with the branding 
> Second School
> ^(TM) Coffee and Tea Shops Inc. These businesses will form a business 
> co-op in
> each state.
> The Bridge is a fully monitored and dedicated peer-to-peer iVW system. ...

This is exactly the opposite of what I am recommending, and not 
congruent in any way with the approach and philosophy I describe.
It appears to be a book dedicated largely to a commercial enterprise, 
and is simply attempting to free-ride on the current discussion.

-- Stephen

On 06/19/2010 10:03 AM, Paul Prueitt wrote:
> On Jun 19, 2010, at 7:09 AM, Stephen Downes <stephen at downes.ca 
> <mailto:stephen at downes.ca>>t wrote:
>>> We don't (as we all know, right?) consume an education, but our
>>> education system has become based on the model of consumption, so 
>>> much so
>>> that even the critics of it can articulate only about how hard it is to
>>> create the consumable.
>>> This is why we - George and I and David and Alec and Dave and others 
>>> - are
>>> working on opening up education. Not because we think it will reduce the
>>> cost of the consumable to zero, not because we think we can package and
>>> deliver an education more cheaply and more efficiently, but because we
>>> understand that, unless an education is open, unless it's precisely 
>>> *not* a
>>> consumable, it's not an education at all. And while *this* 
>>> observation, that
>>> education is not a consumable, is hardly new or unique, our approach 
>>> to it
>>> appears to have been (though you know if you go back into the history of
>>> education you can find a great deal about self-organizing learning
>>> communities and the pedagogies based on such models).
> In /The Education Bridge/, www.educationWorlds.com/bridge.pdf 
> <http://www.educationWorlds.com/bridge.pdf> the notion of induction is 
> developed, along with the related notions of non-locality and emergence.
> A thesis is framed.  Our educational system is an induction machine.
> This induction is backward looking and centered on serving the supply 
> system.  It is not anticipatory, and thus the education system does 
> not have the properties of an intelligent system.  There is 
> a denial that individuals have unique qualities.  It is within these 
> unique qualities that one sees "intelligence".
> We trace this limited systemic nature of the 
> current educational philosophy to Dewey, Darwin and Newton.  We see 
> education is being anti-democratic in its practice and consequences. 
>  It carries the "big lie", that the physical universe 
> is deterministic.  This lie then allows a few to pretend as if they 
> are in control.  It, the educational system, has the nature of 
> a fundamentalism.  It, the educational system, is hijacking the 
> democracy.  it does this while also providing us with great benefits.
> The distinction is then made that there is a supply mechanism 
> called advertising which allows supply to control demand.  The 
> systematic violation of the individual is then enabled.
> Part of the hijacking of the intention of the individual by these 
> mechanisms requires our citizens to be ignorant about the nature of 
> individual self.  The action-perception cycle is interrupted to such 
> an extent that the individual (sometimes) becomes incapable of 
> understanding the self.
> We give up the self so as to be a participant in a consumer 
> based social structure. The educational system assists us in giving up 
> our expectation that intention be expressed in a pure form.  In fact 
> we are taught that intention is necessarily evil, unless shaped by the 
> supply side.  This "teaching" is part of the fundamentalism.   The 
> media and our literatures goes to great lengths to given evidence to 
> this assertion about individual intent.  We are fed a continuous 
> supply of evidence as to our unworthiness.  We accommodate this 
> feeding as we become ever more incapable.    This process is one that 
> must eventually reach the point of absolute absurdity.
> Maybe we are now "here".  Maybe it is time to turn the corner and 
> evolve in the opposite direction, to re-establish the concept of 
> governance by the People and also to not over react.  Might we reform 
> without extreme reaction?
> The Education Bridge makes the proposal that teaching using supply 
> side methodology creates acquired learning disabilities, specific at 
> first (1950-1990) to mathematics and science, but now non-specific. 
>  The entering freshman are rejecting the very notion of learning 
> anything.  They wish to just graduate with the credentials that allow 
> them to earn a living and consume.  We pretend to teach and they 
> pretend to learn.
> We move away fro the notion of a meritocracy. The remediation to this 
> trend is also proposed.
> The remediation is to develop Socratic,constructivist and 
> participatory pedagogy that asks the individual student to demand 
> specific topics to be discussed, rather than to be forced to consume 
> the material in a specific order and using a very rigid syllabus.  If 
> the demand is from a desire to understand self, then this demand will 
> lead to capacity to serve self and others.
>>> how hard it is to
>>> create the consumable.
> /The Education Bridge /suggests that we no longer create a regime of 
> consumables that are forced on the student, but rather develop a set 
> of focus topics, the complete set of which would be the "curriculum". 
>  There is guidance, not all notions of "supply" are lost!   The 
> framework for curriculums is provided, but choices are allowed.
> We then allow students to select which of these consumables he or she 
> wishes to internalize and then to re-express.  The re-expression 
> involves an induction, the localization of non-locality and the 
> emergence of creativity.   The methods that might support this "demand 
> pedagogy" are illustrated in the /Bridge/.
> The objective we may choose to share is to balance a system that is 
> now 95% supply side and create a system where a 50-50 balance between 
> supply and the aggregated pure intent of individuals.  How is this 
> aggregation to occur, so that we as a society anticipate the future? 
>  The answers we give are surprising at first.
> We would be pleased if this list would focus on this proposal, as 
> stated at www.educationWorlds.com <http://www.educationWorlds.com>.
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Signature 	Stephen Downes
Research Officer, National Research Council Canada
100 rue des Aboiteaux, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada E1A 7R1
Website: http://www.downes.ca ~ Email: stephen at downes.ca 
<mailto:stephen at downes.ca>

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