Saturday, February 09, 2008

An Extension of Kevin Kelly's Qualities for Education

Here are some addtional thoughts I have had about Kevin Kelly's article, Better Than Free, about values of information when copies are free and lots of information is available.

At least in educational settings the quality of "interpretation" can be expanded to include the ideas of "guidance and explanation." The value of a good class is not the syllabus, the text or the classnotes, it is the value of the instructor. It is the opportunity to seek further clarification or to get to ask questions that link your current knowledge to some new idea.

This is why MIT can afford to give away its course content and still find students willing to buy the opportunity to be in the classroom with an instructor.

Somewhere is the qualities of "accessibility" and "findability" is the quality of organization. The value of an article in Wikipedia is more valuable than the same article that stands alone because the article embedded in the organizational structure of an encyclopedia can be easily linked to deeper information and related ideas. There is great value in this "organizational structure."

One of the commentators on this article also identified "community" as another possible quality that would be of value beyond the information itself. This again has lots of applicability in regards to education. We are still trying to figure out ways to replicate online the "community of scholars" aspect of F2F education. We don't yet have all the tools we need to create this experience online and one of the dangers of creating online graduate degrees in particular is this missing piece. The value of synchronous, spontaneous, or serendipitous conversations that can occur in a lab, classroom, hallway can easily be overlooked in the design of online education. The variety of educational experiences in traditional, campus-based education is still much richer than the online world.

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