To start this series of podcasts I will be speaking about the book The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. Podcast 1 will discuss chapter 3 E-Demand Around the Globe.
Bonk says “Why write a chapter on the demand for e-learning when my friend Jay Cross points out that formal courses are dead? Instead, one should look at informal courses, which comprise 70 to 80 percent of our learning” As these courses are dying and e-learning is blossoming there is a need to facilitate this learning. To quote Bonk again “Clearly, Cross and others leading this death march realize that e-learning is one of the key instigators or mass burial”
Since the time of Plato technology has been changing how we learn. From writing to ships carrying lessons of Norwegian instructors, the printing press, telegraph, phonograph, radio, television, satellite, computers, and the internet education continues to evolve. In 1885, John Heyl Vincent said “the day is coming when work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than done in the classroom of our academic colleges.” Bonk says today courses are not only available by correspondence but “via real-time Web conferencing tools, radio CDs and DVDs, television, online chat, mobile phones,” and more. I even recently had a student tell me she would not need to take her book on a sport trip because she would have her phone and could access our classes materials via Moodle on her mobile phone. Will the need for me to be in my classroom soon be unnecessary, I think perhaps.
The NotSchool.net is an alternative online school for at risk none traditional students. Bonk quotes Ivan Illich’s book Deschooling Society “we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school…Universal education through schooling is not feasible.” Illich said that “educational webs” would “heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning sharing, and caring.” This could not be more true today with life- long learners and social networking allowing all to share their experience across the Web. Illich thought there was three purposes for an educational system. 1. to offer unlimited resources 2. sharing of knowledge and expertise with those that want to learn and 3. allow anyone who wants to share or present an idea to do so. The NotSchool program was started in the Ultralab by Professor Stephen Heppell in the UK who was making Illich’s vision a reality. In America the Indiana University High School an experiment in the 90s today enrolls about 4,000 students taking many classes for their diplomas. A student can sail the seas and still not fall behind in high school. Assignments can be upload at different ports after being completed on the open seas. Bonk highlights Bridey who was a student who did just that while her sister Caitlin blogged her accounts of the trip and shared it for activities and discussions in geography at a school back home. Bonk quotes Bridey who said of her experience:
Studying while sailing gave me the chance to explore the world outside my comfort zone, while I remained a student. I am proud that I learned how to organize my time and be in charge of my education. My teachers at IU encouraged me to contact them when needed and they bent a lot of their rules to talk to me outside their office hours to fit better with when I was in port.
I am also proud that I did something most of my friends thought was outrageous. My friends said that they would never want to be stuck on a boat with their parents, without their friends and social life changed drastically. My sisters and I became closer and a really great evening was sitting on the tramp on the front of the boat watching the sun going down over the ocean, hoping to see the elusive “green flash” as the sun dips below the horizon.
It seems that today the world of learning is becoming limitless as many have imagined it could.
In chapter 4 It’s a Free Software World After All Bonk talks about how free and open software are changing education. In many countries including our own education is free or at least used to be free. Brian J. Ford states that though education was free more and more people are not able to get an education do to the costs. The internet is changing this allowing many to obtain a free education.
The internet gives us a new form of anti-commerce. What’s always mattered in the past has been the mighty dollar, the buck. How you can take your product… and make money out of it. Suddenly, the Internet offers people something for nothing. A generation ago, if you wanted a great thing, it would cost you 500 pounds. If you wanted a small watered down version, it might cost you 100. If you wanted the kid’s trial version, it might cost you 50 pounds. Now, if you want Photoshop, it will cost you 500 pounds. But if you wanted Photoshop LE, it will cost you zilch. Nothing. That has never happened before and its turned, it’s reversed, the way in which commerce has always progressed for the last two centuries.
Today companies like Google and Yahoo are free and do not sell products yet they make billions of dollars. These companies give away free emails and online storage they like social networking sites and You Tube allow people free services on the internet to share stories, knowledge, and their lives. Bonk quotes Chris Anderson “Altruism has always existed, but the Web gives it a platform where the actions of individuals can have a global impact. In a sense, zero-cost distribution has turned sharing into an industry.” This is true even for education it to can be free. Finding free educational resources on the web is easy on the Web. There are many open source tools now for education that include wikis, podcasting, blogs, and YouTube videos.
There are two free resources that are dominating the Web free software movement and open source movement. The open source movement allows many to collaborate on the Web with wikis and learning management systems like Moodle. It was so important that software and the Web be free that a group called the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was formed. Bonk quotes one of the creators of the group “it is an ethical imperative for software to be free.” FSF is dedicated to making sure that there are no restrictions on software. That it can be copied, redistributed, changed by allowing the source code to be shared with anyone. FSF has a “General Public License” it provides four basic freedoms:
Freedom 0. The freedom to run the program as you wish.
Freedom 1. The freedom to study the source code and change it to do what you wish.
Freedom 2. The freedom to make copies and distribute them to others.
Freedom 3. The freedom to publish modified versions.
These freedoms were meant so that computer programmers and users would have a culture of sharing. Richard Stallman one of FSF founders wants people to understand this is not free commerce, but philosophical freedoms that allows people to learn, share, create, and improve on software and the Web. Through these movements we now have Linux and Mozilla. In
In education there are many benefits to free and open source software. We now have Wikipedia, Moodle, and other education resources available. As an educator we know how important free educational resources are. Universities may be able to afford Blackboard or other extremely expensive and inflexible learning management systems but the open software Moodle allows high school teachers like myself to benefit from the Moodle Philosophy as Bonk quotes:
Once you are thinking about all these issues, it helps to focus on the experience that would be best for learning from the learner’s point of view, rather than just publishing and assessing the information you think they need to know. It can also help you realize how each participant in a course can be a teacher as well as a learner. Your job as a “teacher” can change from being “the source of knowledge” to being an influencer and role model of class culture, connecting with students in a personal way that addresses their own learning needs, and moderating discussions and activities in a way that collectively leads students towards the learning goals of the class.
As we progress towards creating a world of free learning and learners who are accountable for their own learning while teachers become the facilitators sharing and exchange is essential. In comes Creative Commons created by Larry Lessig in 2001 allows for the sharing of free use resources that include images, audio, video, text, education, and geodata. Bonk states, “Copyright designations found at Creative Commons help protect public and private universities as well as individuals from for profit entities that may rip off their intellectual capital.” It has opened up more educational resources for the world to share. There is now a We-All-Learn model in education that has been provided by the free software and open source movements, and as an educator I hope it continues on for a long time to come.
MIT in Every Home Chapter 5 in this chapter Bonk explores the movement of open courseware (OCW). Anyone with access to the Web can now find entire courses open and free to take and use. OCW allows instructors to put up lecture notes, syllabus, tests, and other course materials free for anyone to use. MIT was one of the first institutions to commit to having all their courses online and free to use. All of MIT’s curriculum 1,890 courses are now free to all learners around the world. Since reading this chapter I have started researching some of these courses. When I have more time I will continue my research and add MIT to my PLN. I have to teach physics next year and I now know how I will learn physics so that I can teach it to my students.
MIT has begun a web of spinoffs even in Pakistan. In Pakistan students were using MIT courses as self -motivated learners. It has allowed access by students in Pakistan of supplement materials that they could otherwise have never afforded. Students from Pakistan, India, Nigeria, and Venezuela have all downloaded OCW resources and brought them into their classes to be shared and used to benefit others in the class. Universities in many other countries are now putting content on the Web and others are translating the MIT courses into their languages. Bonk states, “Yes, MIT did indeed start a revolution. It is one that we can join casually from afar and without anyone taking notice, or one in which we can directly take part. Which will you choose?’
In Taiwan the Opensource Opencourseware Prototype System (OOPS) project was created. Lucifer Chu had translated the Lord of the Rings into Chinese and made a lot of money doing it. He took that money to help start the translation of MIT courses to Chinese. Now OOPS has many volunteer translators working on translating those courses to traditional and simplified Chinese. Chu embodies the WE-ALL-LEARN motto helping the Chinese people to have access to a free online education. Not only is OOPS helping people learn but it provided a humanitarian response in the wake of the 2008 earthquake in the China by researching health related documents on surviving catastrophe, and translating them for the people. Bonk quotes Lucifer, “We couldn’t really go in the place where it was hit most severely. So, as a group of volunteers who shared knowledge, we tried to do what we do best.”
There are now over 100 universities uploading their content and allowing free use as OCW. These universities include Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Utah State University, Tufts University. Japan has jumped in with Japan OpenCourseWare Consortium with seventeen member institutions with more than 1,000 courses online. Bonk provides testimonials of OCW posted by Tufts University from “Colombian nephrologist, a tuberculosis and HIV researcher from El Salvador, a Spanish instructor of law and diplomacy, a physiology professor from Iraq, and Brazilian faculty member interested infectious disease… technology professor from Turkey” all praise Tufts. One states “With the tremendous changes that we are seeing in medicine, we need to have a network to discuss and share experiences.” Another instructor from Turkey praises Tufts social responsibility and care, “I think OCW and online learning are key for the world’s peace.”
Even Yale University now has OCW in topics that include physics, psychology, religious studies, and political science. Here’s another resource for me to learn physics there may be hope for me and my students yet. There is still a lot to be done, but this is a beginning and learning is available to many even though you can’t get a credential you can get the knowledge you need to get into a good university. The movement is starting in secondary education as well. Eventually more will become aware of OCW and the potential for free education to all. As a teacher it is becoming more and more important to teach our students how to learn and to provide them with the resources to do it on their own. Students need to know that as Bonk says “Open access is one of the key ingredients now helping people to learn… We are all learners for life. Open access to information will make technology-enabled knowledge sharing ubiquitous and help us all to learn.”