Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Digital Age: Internet Access and Education

This title is more abstract and promising than my actual thoughts at the moment. I have been having a lot of trouble with my internet access, so posting may be spotty over the next couple of days. However, I have been reading some interesting thoughts on education.

When I finished Phrasikleia while I was proctoring an exam on Sunday, I began reading a free kindle book that I downloaded called The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. The book is a study of sorts, done with collaboration from UC Berkley and Duke and I think published by MIT that discusses the nature of education in an era of participatory technology. The study itself was placed on a website for a year where readers could leave comments, and many of these suggestions were incorporated into the document itself.

I have really enjoyed the study thus far. It notes that although there is a significant amount of participatory technology available and some of it has been put to educational use (like wikipedia), teachers and institutions are still focusing on the top-down form of IT (information technology) rather than the participatory technology platforms.
The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age
I think this educational dilemma is very interesting. There is obviously a lot of value in a top-down system of learning, but as the study points out the US has a ridiculously high dropout rate and perhaps some of the participatory technology (often not accessible to the type of low-income students who drop out of school due to lack of computer and internet resources) could be incorporated into the educational system to help update it and increase graduation rates.

Some of these ideas about participatory technology are already being employed by educators such as Sugata Mitra (see my blogposts on his TED talk: #1, #2). I also discuss some of them in my blogpost on textbooks and opencourseware. I am excited to read the rest of the study and see where it goes.

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