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.



Will the future be different? Or like the 1970s thought it would be?

I recently came across PaleoFuture, about the “the future that never was”.  They look at the history of predictions of the future.  These forecasts always seems to be more utopian, depicting a bright and shiny future more rosy than it actually turns out to be.

There’s always going to be conflicting opinion about whether or not the future will be better than the past, but it’s worth viewing the comments on the blog.

In 2008, with the global economic panic, there is more room for pessimism.

At the same time, there is room for optimism that we can avoid the distopian futures projected in the 1970s.

  • We can connect another billion people to the internet to help educate and solve problems
  • We’ve seen the excesses of fundamentalist thinking along the extremes capitalism and communism, and are ready to explore more cooperative approaches
  • We have the capacity for rational thought, and can design creative ways to solve pressing global issues

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:

Avoiding the federal reserve? Try a local currency

There are, in some cities, local currencies that can serve as alternatives to Federal Reserve Notes.

Ithica hours are the most famous example, but there is a long tradition of local and community-based currencies, some based on utopian ideals of how community members should treat each other.

These local currencies have the advantage of keeping commerce local, since the notes historically have limited utility outside the community they can be redeemed in.

Several communities were established in the early 1800s, that experimented with this concept. For example, Cincinnati Time Store notes were implemented in Cincinnati, Ohio. These were initially redeemable at one store in Ohio, but the concept spread to other communities throughout the Ohio River basin.

Cincinnati Time Store Note image

Cincinnati Time Store Note image

This part of Cincinnati’s history wasn’t something we studied in high school. The Cincinnati Time Store was a project of Josiah Warren, who also helped found the communities of:

So it’s been proven that these work at the community level. How would they work in the societies of today?


Town of Felton, Calif to switch to Linux for a week

On July 28th, the community of Felton, CA will switch to Linux for a week. Some installations started July 14th. has details, and the main site seems to be

Here are the represented GNU/Linux distributions:

  • AntiX
  • Fedora Project
  • Mandriva
  • Ubuntu
  • Wolvix

I wonder what the results of the ‘switch’ campaign will be.