Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Informal learning models supersede institutional learning

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." – Albert Einstein

"The new age of education is programmed for discovery rather than instruction." – Marshall McLuhan

Traditional education is increasingly obsolete for four reasons: speed, content, format and information availability.

1. Learning institutions cannot redesign themselves, their processes, their topic areas and curriculum content fast enough to keep up with the imperatives of the changing world. Ideas, technology and concepts are evolving too quickly. An example of this shift is traditional journalism school being perceived irrelevant as writers garner audience influence by blogging.

2. The vast majority of material at traditional learning institutions is past-focused not future-oriented. Of course there is value in learning the trends of history and the contexts in which events happen but there should be much more effort devoted to tools and abstractions for acting in the future.

3. The most interesting and important current topics are not taught in university courses but are only available via self-learning. As discussed in previous posts, the creative class engages in a massive amount of continuous self-learning and has a shared body of knowledge. This is a tremendous potential resource is already facilitating human collaborative endeavor. Some of the most interesting learning comes from evolutionary biology and other science areas, modern economics, emerging social structures and science fiction. Also, it is not clear that books and lectures are the best delivery mechanism; with today'’s faster speed of thought, books and lectures should be supplemented with blogs and interactive tools such as simulations, etc.

4. The explosion of free information on the Internet offers a great alternative to institutional learning and promotes exploring highly individualized interests. Society changed dramatically after the last explosion of information availability, the advent of the printing press. Information wanted to be free (e.g.; available) in that day, now it still wants to be free (e.g.; costless). Maybe the full live education experience cannot be replicated with the current Internet experience, but probably lab and other hands-on experiences can be simulated. All of a sudden, a lot of people will start having significant knowledge without university degrees. Peer review and reputation networks are a helpful proxy, but real world degree equivalents will need to be conferred and some means of testing and validating self-learning is needed.


Snipaw said...

Should we do away with traditional universities and meet for small group discussion? I agree with you but the question is where do we g from here and how do we get there?

LaBlogga said...

re: Where do we go from here?

For individuals, its incumbent on us to do a lot of self-learning, to stay current with thought in our interest areas and generate new thoughts. Also to identify what new things we should be learning.

For existing education providers and entrepreneurs, there's an opportunity to develop businesses/websites/content to make it easier, fun and available for everyone, particularly seniors for example to learn new things. One example is Clark Aldrich's Virtual Leader simulation for teaching leadership in a fun way. I've been surprised that U of Phoenix & other distance learning companies still offer degree-only programs, not the possibility of taking a course here and there in a particular interest area.

For society as a whole, I think universities will still exist but have a different role. Do Ivy League schools still matter if everyone passes equivalently challenging exams on the same course material? Universities do not need to be dismantled, the market constraints of capitalism will force their evolution.

Snipaw said...

As for my story of the 410 shotgun ... I clipped it out and sent it to the Tonight Show. It accully made "Headlines" on a Monday night. Still the people around here didn't get the humour of it.

LaBlogga said...

Dan Gillmor has also remarked upon the phenomenon of traditional print media shrinking, in this case partially pressured by Wall Street.