Wednesday, December 30, 2009

World is Open-- Not your parent's education--1

Today I began reading Curt Bonk's, The World is Open. There is much to learn from this book, but it is important to take a thoughtful look at Bonk's characterization of the the promise of the web for learning.
"If we could travel back in time with him [his grandfather], we would see that the educational opportunities of a century ago were phenomenally different from what we have today" (p. 13).
Bonk then lists the things that were not available to his grandfather, they include:

1. podcasts made of his school lessons in case he missed class;
2. instructors who waxed eloquently in their blogs about how a particular class was going or supplemental course links.
3. email messages that linked him to wondrous electronic course resources.
4. no virtual worlds to explore for hours on end.

He sums up this paragraph with
"Grandpa George and his classmates could not move about to computer labs and media rooms in accordance with their interests and learning pursuits or think about entering and exiting a course at any time of the day" (p. 13).
Of course, most students today don't have this experience either. In fact, very few students at any level of learning routinely have the experience that Bonk is describing. There are certainly examples of teachers who are providing this type of experience, but few students regularly have this opportunity.

This doesn't mean that this experience should not exist or could not exist (and Bonk wants us to catch this possible future), but at present today's student is mostly having the same experience as his grandfather. One of the questions we should be asking is why are more students not having this experience?

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