The World Is Open

I am reading about the book by Carl J. Bonk, The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education, that came out last month. I have not read the book yet, but many of the reviews I have seen read like the year-end and look-ahead posts that we see at this time of the year. That's probably not the fairest way to read or review the book, but it is a book that looks at where we are with education and technology and where we might be headed.

Some reviewer's say that it is an education follow-up to Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat. I am a supporter of open everything, and open education is part of that. An open education model is one with widespread and uninhibited accessibility to educational opportunities and resources. That includes learning that does not lead to promotion and degrees. In Bonk's word, it would mean ‘‘anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime.’’

What are the things that are moving open learning ahead? The list of things being used and potentially being used is long. Many of them are things I have covered here, and I suspect that the others will be the subjects for posts in 2010.

networks of personalized learning
large data points
access through mobile devices
lifelong learning, learning clubs and learning beyond those traditional "student years"
personalized learning and portfolios
shared learning resources and shared learning teachers/mentors/coaches facilitators
learning served through social networks
learning served by non-traditional sources
a further blurring of the work/leisure/learning divisions
more blended learning

I believe that education provided by schools at all grade levels will become a smaller part of the overall learning world. Perhaps, our concepts of degrees, credits and certificates will need to change. Much of this learning will be available for free - and schools had better think about what will mean to them.

Will sharing educational resources and the process lead to new forms of trust and collaboration among the people of this planet?

When and where we learn will change. So will when and where some of us teach. Work time versus learning time is already happening, but it will need to be formalized. Google's corporate policy of allowing workers to use 20% of their "work time" at topics of their own interest might be a model.

What Bonk calls "super blends" means mixing delivery platforms, courses, discussion groups, and also students and resources from different schools, institutions, and corporate training institutes.

The shift from the mastery of instructor-based content to real problems being solved and authentic products being created.

The opportunities are there, but what is most unclear to me at this early stage is who will provide the leadership for this movement. Traditional institutions of learning would have a tough time breaking away from models that have been used for hundreds of years, but the movement will not solidify on its own.

Carl Bonk's site is


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