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How The Web Can Change Education July 18, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Essays, News, Reviews, Trends.
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by Joanne KY Teoh
The Web has freed people from the “tyranny of time and distance” and is now poised to create a culture for learning innovation, expanding classroom walls to bring the best learning resources for kids of the world.

No surprise Rupert Murdoch of News Corp has been enthusing about the commercial potential of eLearning, using the e-G8 Forum “The Internet: Accelerating Growth” in Paris to talk up the Web’s power to transform education in his presentation.

Of course, Murdoch lauds commercial educational initiatives and products while ignoring Open Access resources like MIT OpenCourseWare, and many others. While one should beware ruthless tycoons peddling their wares, the point is that even Murdoch sees the future of education, and his words are accurate in many respects.

If schools today have not changed much, and the classroom is still defined by a teacher with a book and a blackboard, what should change? Computers aren’t enough. Software that engage students are also critical. If possible, equip students with tablets to let them become more interactive in their learning.

Digital technology allows for personalized or individualized learning. Students can work at their own pace with online tutors and videos featuring, for example, master teachers from anywhere in the world to monitor each student’s performance.

What does it look like when the Web positively impacts the daily practice of a learning community through communication and collaboration? Some schools have shifted their thinking to transform best practices, utilize project-based learning activities, and implement school communication initiatives that involve blogging, wikis, and social networking tools.

Education and creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson also criticized outdated schools in his classical 2008 A Change of Paradigms lecture at the Royal Society of Art. But he addressed technology from the viewpoint of its effect on cognition and culture, and how educational politics should take this into account. Certainly a more fruitful and far-sighted approach than Murdoch’s promotion of exclusively commercial tech solutions.

Animation: Changing Education Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson

While Murdoch advocates for less government in education as a software seller, Lawrence Lessig advocates socially ethical “less government.” Below is a video of his e-G8 keynote which focuses on his slides.

We should say to modern democratic government, you need to beware of incumbents bearing policy fixes. Because their job, the job of the incumbents, is not the same as your job, the job of the public policy maker.

Their job is profit for them. Your job is the public good. And it is completely fair, for us to say, that until this addiction is solved, we should insist on minimalism in what government does.

The kind of minimalism Jeff Jarvis spoke off when he spoke of “do no harm”. An Internet that embraces principles of open and free access, a neutral network to guarantee this open access, to protect the outsider.

But here is the one thing we know about this meeting, and its relationship to the future of the internet. The future of the internet is not Twitter, it is not Facebook, it is not Google, it is not even Rupert Murdoch.

The future of the internet is not here. It wasn’t invited, it does not even know how to be invited, because it doesn’t yet focus on policies and fora like this. The least we can do is to preserve the architecture of this network that protects this future that is not here.

Lawrence Lessig, Professor, Harvard Law School

Keynote – e-G8 from lessig on Vimeo.

Reads
e-G8 – Rupert Murdoch: Education Is the Last Digital Holdout

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