Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is "Convergence Education" a better term than "Open Education"?

Many educators are exploring the conceptual foundations that would build a model for "open education." The emphasis in open education is on the elements of participation and collective intelligence. I have begun to wonder if it may be useful to build on Henry Jenkin's "convergence culture" model as a basis for education. In his book, Convergence Culture (2006), Jenkins writes,

"This book is about the relationship between three concepts-- media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence" (p. 2).

He places alot of emphasis on the breakdown between movies, television, books, blogs and other forms of media that have traditionally been discrete methods of transmitting culture and explores the ways in which creators have begun to merge, blend or "converge" these methods of entertainment.

He writes, "In a world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms" (p. 3).

So how does this sound--

"In a world of educational convergence, every important intellectual story gets told, every teacher/institution gets sold, and every student gets courted across multiple media platforms."

A central idea in Jenkins book is the idea the breakdown of viewing cultural products and activities as discrete entities, but beginning to view these a part of a larger, more integrated fabric. Also, Jenkins suggests that rather than seeing video vs. books, or text vs. video, or amateur vs. expert, that the future lies in the development of models that are designed across platforms.

In education there is still too much discussion of the online vs. F2F teaching, informal vs. formal learning, open vs. closed education. Rather than continues these disputes, the idea of "convergence" helps us to recognize that the future is not a mater of "either/or," but a matter of "convergence."

For education, the simple version of this convergence would be thinking in these terms-- linking formal and informal learning, linking courses across semesters, departments, institutions; linking blogs, video, lectures, study groups; and building classrooms across age, gender, social class, states, regions, and countries.

This a not a brand new idea, but it may increasingly be a point of emphasis in the ways in which we structure the development of educational enterprises.

1 comment:

Lisa Neal Gualtieri said...

This is a fascinating post and analysis. Please consider writing a longer version of this for eLearn Magazine as an opinion piece or a review of Jenkin's book.