A new book from Anya Kamenetz looks at the crises (rising tuition, falling standards) and opportunities (cc content, blended learning) that institutions of higher learning are confronting.
This examination is thoughtful and thoroughly-researched. It avoids the apocalyptic predictions that Tapscott and Williams (and I might add, a David Wiley and Stephen Downes) continue to make. For example, Kamenetz does not predict –and much less give an expiry date for—the university’s demise. Instead, she sees trends like “technohybridization” (blended learning) and the “personal learning paths” as central to DIY in higher ed. In fact, arguing directly against Wiley and Downes (whom she cites directly), Kamenetz concludes:
The protestant reformation did not destroy the Catholic church, and the DIY educational revolution won’t eradicate verdant hillside colonial colleges, nor strip-mall trade schools. DIYU examples will multiply. Most likely, in bits and pieces, fits and starts, traditional universities and colleges will be influenced by them to be more open and democratic, to better serve their communities and students.
That changes the way that things like PLEs, connectionism, and e-learning 2.0 are to be understood: They do not supplant dominant practices, but at best, augment and modify them. There is much to say otherwise about Kamenetz’s book. But (with apologies for shameless self-promotion), I close this post with a short passage about one presentation at Open Learning 2009 in Vancouver
At one point, I Twittered a compelling quote from the presentation I was watching on historical precursors to open education, by Norm Friesen, who holds the chair in e-learning practices at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.” The woman next to me saw my tweet pop up on her screen, looked over at me, and winked. The quote was from Paolo Freire, the Brazilian radical educator and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the 1960s he invested in slide projectors to teach reading to peasants using evocative pictures; later, in the 1990s, as the secretary of education for Sao Paulo, he established the Central Laboratory for Educational Informatics, and added televisions, tape recorders, and microcomputers to his arsenal for empowering the poor through knowledge.’ The quote that struck me? “The answer does not lie in the rejection of the machine, but rather in the humanization of man.”