Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Learning on Demand

The world of education does a marvelous job of ignoring and resisting modern fads and trends, serving up instruction in more-or-less unchanged ways for over a hundred years. It will be interesting to see if we can hold out against the trend of "on-demand" that has affected so many other areas of modern life.

We've already seen the authority of the gatekeeper erode in face of on-demand publishing, whether in print or online. Anyone who has something to say can now get heard...if anyone cares to listen. We've seem the authority of the editor erode in the face of ITunes, Netflix, and other methods of getting entertainment in self-selected, bite-sized chunks.

Now we're starting to see some early attacks on gatekeeper/editor authority in schooling. We have the many videos of the Khan Academy; now we have modular college courses. Get what you want, when you want it, at the level you want it. Test out of it if you can prove you know it.

In a world where 8-year-olds already know how to reach out into the cosmos and grab information whenever they're curious about something, does "sit-and-get" classroom education really have a future? Will children even think of schools and teachers as unique repositories of information and learning anymore? Or will schools need to transform into places where kids can work together to play with, manipulate, and analyze the information they've gotten elsewhere, learning from teachers how to use what they're learning in exciting and meaningful ways?

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