Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Classroom-less World: The World is your Classroom

The information age will be more about disruptive innovations or reconfiguring specific social activities via decentralized platforms. 

This should apply to education where online classes may be a transition towards a more decentralized paradigm: ‘Socialstructed learning’ or the world as your classroom.

Socialstructed learning as defined by Ms. Marina Gorbis writing at fastcoexist.com “is an aggregation of microlearning experiences drawn from a rich ecology of content and driven not by grades but by social and intrinsic rewards. The microlearning moment may last a few minutes, hours, or days (if you are absorbed in reading something, tinkering with something, or listening to something from which you just can’t walk away). Socialstructed learning may be the future, but the foundations of this kind of education lie far in the past.”

How the possible transition will go about, again Ms. Gorbis
Today’s obsession with MOOCs is a reminder of the old forecasting paradigm: In the early stages of technology introduction we try to fit new technologies into existing social structures in ways that have become familiar to us.

MOOCs today are our equivalents of early TV, when TV personalities looked and sounded like radio announcers (or often were radio announcers). People are thinking the same way about MOOCs, as replacements of traditional lectures or tutorials, but in online rather than physical settings. In the meantime, a whole slew of forces is driving a much larger transformation, breaking learning (and education overall) out of traditional institutional environments and embedding it in everyday settings and interactions, distributed across a wide set of platforms and tools. They include a rapidly growing and open content commons (Wikipedia is just one example), on-demand expertise and help (from Mac Forums to Fluther, Instructables, and WikiHow), mobile devices and geo-coded information that takes information into the physical world around us and makes it available any place any time, new work and social spaces that are, in fact, evolving as important learning spaces (TechShop, Meetups, hackathons, community labs).

We are moving away from the model in which learning is organized around stable, usually hierarchical institutions (schools, colleges, universities) that, for better and worse, have served as the main gateways to education and social mobility. Replacing that model is a new system in which learning is best conceived of as a flow, where learning resources are not scarce but widely available, opportunities for learning are abundant, and learners increasingly have the ability to autonomously dip into and out of continuous learning flows.
The good news is that the radical decentralization of the educational process will translate to its democraticization. With learning resources becoming more “abundant”, this means prices will fall towards zero bound— yes free education. And this means that education will span to cover greater number of people who will have access to specialized learning. This will also mean lesser politicization of the industry.

On the other hand, education service providers will have to discover other sources of revenues.

Also traditional education institutions will need to redraw their business models in order to adapt with the current changes otherwise face extinction.

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