The future history of the Education Commons

MIT Press has released a PDF version of the book “Opening Up Education”, (new link here -on dropbox) which is a series of articles on open educational content.

I found the most interesting piece was David Wiley’s “the OpenCourseWars” – 2005-2012, some speculative fiction on what will happen with the open content movement over the next few years.



The education challenge – economics vs. decentralization

The success of the ‘industrial age’ school model is working against success in the ‘digital age’ school model.  Recent books by

Here’s what the Internet makes possible:

  1. What one person knows, everyone knows.
  2. Students can collaborate with other students, and teachers
  3. Students control the pace of their own learning

In the United States, the high school movement of the 1880 and early 1900s have led to a locally-controlled system of public education, but your student experience depends on these factors:

  • Your state’s willingness to provide a standardized curriculum
  • Availability of an approved distance education program in your state
  • The willingness of citizens to fund school programs through property tax levies
  • The state or local school board approval of programs that use technology to change how education is delivered
  • The willingness of school administrators to promote or accept innovations in course content and methods of delivery

Recent surveys of the education gap suggest that the decentralized system adopted as part of the ‘high school movement’ in the early 20th century are working against increased levels of attainment by students in the 21st century. 

Harvard educators Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz analyze the reasons for the education gap
The Race between Education and Technology

I found the review of Goldin and Katz’ book here:

Innovations in open source textbooks

The clash of idealogies is coming to a head in the textbook publishing world.

On one side is the walled-garden experience available on the iPhone and Amazon Kindle, enforced by DRM technology. If you wonder if the iPhone is open, ask Apple when you can run Java applications on it.

On the other side is the open philosophy represented by creative commons, which is very compatible with the academic goal of distributing knowledge. I suspect that the tension between proprietary education material sand open education resources will exist for a while, but the early adopters will realize significant economic benefits for their school systems:

Here are some early open text/open education sites:

Other sites:

Global Text books

Education: It’s about vision first, and practices later

I’ve been working with a local school board, to advance their technology program from the 4-PCs in a classroom model supported by the state of Ohio, to something more appropriate for a 21st century education. This lab and 4 PC per classroom models means that access isn’t common or universal, particularly at the Junior High and High School.

There is a “universal access” model that is appropriate to consider now in education. People in corporations use PCs in their every day work, and create documents, models, and tools to solve problems. Why would we expect students to act any differently as we prepare them for the world?

Take this into the school setting, and can see the possibility of new ways of learning. Here’s a sample vision of what we can do in the school setting (from Papert/Caperton)

The primary commitment of education should be about vision. Every citizen should enter the world with:

  • A proud vision of self as a powerful life-long learner,
  • A vibrant vision of a worth-while life ahead,
  • An optimistic vision of a society to be proud of, and
  • The skills and the ethic needed to follow these visions.

Our group has arrived at the following conclusions:

  • Using a powerful vision to inspire professional development is essential
  • Due to limited budgets, allowing children to bring their own laptops to school makes sense.
  • Laptops on carts can supplement what the students bring.

Parents, teachers, and administrators will create the conditions that create learning communities. Students will inherently want to do this for themselves, not limited to the four walls of the classroom.