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Underlying tension for millennials against standardized education

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Posted on 3rd August 2011 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Golden Age of Learning and Networks

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The way Millennials live their lives — creating their own iPod playlists, designing their own Facebook pages grates against one-size-fits-all, industrial-era public education policies . . . . The preceding words are adjusted to education from a point made this week by conservative columnist Michael Barone:

In the wake of the 2008 election, I argued that there was a tension between the way Millennials lived their lives — creating their own iPod playlists, designing their own Facebook pages — and the one-size-fits-all, industrial-era welfare-state policies of the Obama Democrats.

Instead of allowing Millennials space in which they can choose their own futures, the Obama Democrats’ policies have produced a low-growth economy in which their alternatives are limited and they are forced to make do with what they can scrounge.

Every parent who has given a youngster his or her own mobile knows that an individual kid is empowered in important new ways by owning the device. That power is far more than the social connectivity the kids enjoy. As Barone points out, in the virtual world accessed through the device, the youngster is no longer constrained to a one-size-fits-all scenario such as school classrooms and curricula demand.

I think the empowerment that a personal mobile connection to the internet gives an individual is as fundamentally transitional as what occurred at these pivotal historical events:

The network science unfolding in the 21st century will continue to give us clearer understanding and a new perspective on the fact that human creativity and progress emerge from patterns of individuals. Top down power and patterns stifle, whether it is in a political campaign or a classroom.

The individual is a node in a network. We are just beginning to understand (see network science) how connectivity both gives power to nodes link out, and wisdom to crowds. Today’s Millennials are like the new Athenian voters, Brit serfs with new liberties, and America’s Minutemen — enjoying new individual liberty and ready to fight to keep it.

Great, great amounts of treasure are being poured toward giving every child a standardized education, and the system is not succeeding. Meanwhile, a new, better, individualized — and far, far cheaper — way of learning is already in the hands of Millennials.

The best that schools offer is never for everybody, mobile fixes that


Posted on 31st July 2011 by Judy Breck in Biology, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning and Schools We Have Now

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Until mobile browsers existed, there has NEVER been a way to proved equal schooling to all children. The usual situation is for elite kids to have better schools. The effect of that is for the highest achieving kids in worse schools often to get a worse education than the low end achievers in the best schools.

For decades in the United States there has been hue and cry to give equal opportunity to minority kids by providing them with equal education. Today a high percentage of minority kids are in relatively bad schools, where the top students are learning at a level far below that of their elite contemporaries in schools across town.

Across the world there are many places where children receive rudimentary education, or none at all. There is simply no realistic hope that each of the world’s kids will ever attend an excellent school. At best only some will; those who do will tend to be the children of the powerful and wealthy. Intelligent individual students from poverty and upwardly ambitious environments will mostly attend poor schools or none at all.

For a student to own a mobile with a web browser changes everything by making each child’s access to online knowledge equal with all mobile-equipped students. Take for example this website:

Life on Earth – Gorongosa

Led by E.O. Wilson, a team of scientists, educators, science writers, and wildlife biology students is working in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique until the second week in August to document a story of transformation in this “Lost Eden” of Africa. The expedition is gathering the lessons to be learned from Gorongosa about ecology and evolution, and will present Gorongosa as model biosystem in the upcoming online text book “E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth.”

Granted, students would need to read English to use this website, but the translations to many languages are coming. The fundamental point is this: Because it is on the web, this exploration of Gorongosa is exactly the same for everyone who learns from it. Every student who looks at it is on literally the same page as all the others who do so. This is true for:

The valedictorian of a top Seattle high school
A sophomore at a poor South Chicago high school
A college freshman in Kenya
A sixth-grader in Mongolia
A young teenager an India slum
…  you get the idea ….

In the mid-20th century the USA tried busing kids from their home neighborhoods to balance school equality. Affirmative action attempts to create more opportunity by admitting students who do not qualify for supposedly better schools. Civil rights have been advanced little by these kinds of measures.

Providing individual mobile access to the web to every student makes real the right of each to equality.

Golden Swamp goes big picture with


Posted on 28th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile Learning, Networks, Open Content and Schools We Have Now

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A new website has been spun off of Click this line to go there to see what is a big picture of exciting new serendipitously, wonderful brand new way to learn in the 21st century.

Here is why I created, from the About section of the new website:

Handschooling will — at last — break each individual child’s learning free to go beyond the control of education establishments. Sound scary? Nothing scares me more about the future than limiting yet another young generation to the analog, tradition-dominated, doling out of a bit of this knowledge and a bit of that knowledge by some remote priesthood (pedagogical, secular, ideological, political, — yes and/or religious too).

We should all be very afraid of education policy reigning from far away. The range of control and chaos these distant pedagogues cause is wide. There is the sort that pumps gushes of money into celebrating mediocrity which perpetuates an underclass the nanny standard setters can count on to keep them in power. There are tyrannies that nurture hatred and spawn fanaticism in the young, even to the horror of blowing people up. Settling for inferior, and even destructive, education for other people’s children is all too easy when those children are in other people’s neighborhoods and towns and beyond.

While we nurture our children up close, we should strive for equal opportunity to learn for each child. Serendipitously, wonderfully — in the 21st century there is a brand new way to do just that! Handschooling has almost suddenly opened the way for every youngster across the world to learn from a global commons of that is known by humankind.

Go to

Mobile access to school standards testing creates equality


Posted on 19th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Golden Age of Learning, Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning, Open Content, Politics in the swamp and Schools We Have Now

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Let any child anywhere use his or her mobile to take the school standards tests. All the time now the corporate training world, people learn, are tested, and are certified using their internet connection. Take a look, for example, at the Adobe Certification center.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the “Race to the Top” competition for federal grants to states for education is to increase to more than $6 billion. The core goal here is to measure how students achieve according to standards set for them. As the article reports: “Also, 48 states and the District have joined in an effort to develop a common core of rigorous educational standards to replace the current system in which states have wildly different benchmarks for what should be taught in school.”

Wow: one envisions layers and layers before the kids somehow learn — and prove their teachers have taught and they have the test answers — for whatever this common core is. Why not just put it all out there and let everybody develop and work on what students learn in the transparency of the open internet?

Why not just spend a few million dollars and put everyone’s idea of standard stuff we want kids to learn online, and test them there? Everything could be online: material that is rigorous, material that meets various benchmarks — Texas history for the kids there, and how to farm cranberries for the kids in Vermont. Very soon, tests that won respect of admissions departments and employers would emerge.

The reason this will work is that the individual mobile internet browser will belong to a single student. This ownership makes the opportunity equal for each kid who has a mobile because the nature (good, bad, or not there at all) of a classroom is taken out of the equation.

Each learner can come to the trough of online knowledge, and each can partake according to his or her own appetite. For sure, there are some youngsters in failing urban schools who could ace math tests at the college level. I have met them, I know this is true. There are struggling students in excellent schools who would benefit from studying, on the privacy of their mobile, subjects they “didn’t get” in earlier grades. Being able to get certified online gives them a way to catch up. There are young people in slums and poverty across the world for whom learning basics and more on a mobile browser is a key to their country’s future development. With a mobile browser in her had, a girl interested in astronomy, whose cultures forbids her to attend school, joins her global generation with access equal to every other student who is, for example, browsing images from the Hubble telescope.

A challenge for educators: Put online centers like the Adobe Certification webpages that teach, test, and certify school standards for math, science, technology, languages, humanities — and be sure to make those pages mobile friendly.

Learning basic history, science, math in kids’ hands

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Posted on 17th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning, Open Content and Schools We Have Now

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Every boy in the picture above (by Griff Witte/the Washington Post) can learn basic history, science, math and more — in spite of what is reported today in a front page Washington Post story:

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — With a curriculum that glorifies violence in the name of Islam and ignores basic history, science and math, Pakistan’s public education system has become a major barrier to U.S. efforts to defeat extremist groups here, U.S. and Pakistani officials say. . . .

. . . according to education reform advocates here, any effort to improve the system faces the reality of intense institutional pressure to keep the schools exactly the way they are.

How widespread is this intransigence toward changing schooling? This kind of stubbornness is not just found in Islamabad. Intense pressure to keep schools as they are ranges in different places and cultures from orthodoxy to tradition to profit issues by vested interests and control demands by unions and, most sadly, a panoply of corruption.

While we deal across the planet with the inertia and intransigence that promises to perpetuate failing schools for at least another generation or two of kids, why not let the kids trapped in these schools learn the basics with handschooling? To do that, we need to get a mobile that browses the internet to each kid, and focus more on sharpening the findability online of basic subjects. Every boy in the picture above could learn his algebra from a mobile friendly tutorial in Urdu, Punjabi – and one day the full range of local languages. My guess is that many Pakistanis of their generation are already doing some handschooling beyond their school walls — or when they have no school to attend.

Dwarf dance debuts new knowledge while standards setters lock in the old


Posted on 15th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning and Open Content

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Will school science continue to teach the long-standing problem in cosmology about how dwarf galaxies form? I don’t know if/where schools teach the dwarf problem, but I do know curriculum and testing standards lock in old knowledge to what is taught and tested.

When I watched the video above this morning, I was only the 302nd person to do so. I found it on’s The Great Beyond science news blog.

In this week’s Nature Fabio Governato and colleagues present computer simulations that appear to have solved a long-standing problem in cosmology — namely, how the standard cold dark matter model of galaxy formation can give rise to the dwarf galaxies we see around us.

The beautiful animation above shows how exploding stars are a key force in shaping dwarf galaxies.

Educators are long overdue in dancing away from locking students into subject matter that fossilizes into printed textbooks and their matching tests. As I lamented this week, Texas is doing that right now for history.

galaxyVideo180WThe education establishment has judgmentally held the internet at arms length for way too long. It is time for teaching to step into the magnificent ballet of what is known by humankind in the open internet.

And wonderfully, it is now possible to put knowledge like the dwarf dance into the hand of every child.

Five Star OER: Scientists explain their major new discovery about Walking Tetrapods

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Posted on 7th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Open Content, Paleontology and SEO

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NatureNews reported yesterday that the clock for four-legged creatures has been turned back 18 million years. Anyone connected to the internet can learn this new information from the scientists who made the discovery. The video above is narrated by one of these paleontologists and the report from NatureNews sketches the facts.

As OER (open educational resources) these materials are the footprints of the future. Previous educational resources, especially printed ones like textbooks, are now obsolete on the dating of walking tetrapods. They will continue to place walking tetrapods 18 million years later than they should be on their timelines — for months or years until they can be updated and reprinted.

scientistThe NatureNews report and video are Five Star OER because they can be used as a direct interface to students from big science in almost real time. In his narration of the video, Dr. Ahlberg says: “I have been working personally in this field since the mid-1980s. I have had over 20 publications in Nature. And this is the most important paper that I have ever worked on.”

Watch the video and I think you will agree that the learning experience is worth making sure paleontology students see it. I was only #352 to watch it on YouTube. What can educators do to make sure Walking with Tetrapods gets into the learning mainstream? There is a lot we can do by optimizing the video for learning networks and linking to it robustly. Educators can fundamentally upgrade global learning by concentration on Five Star OER, and letting go of analog resources with less learning star power.

Google and Apple innovations should be heads-up for educators


Posted on 3rd January 2010 by Judy Breck in Biology, Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, History, Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning, Networks and Open Content

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How do educators anticipate new tech opportunities? Do educators think ahead, or are they still “innovating” what was new tech quite a while back? Let’s see: At Edgelings today Michael S. Malone gives us peeks at the big, cool offerings from Google and Apple due out soon. They are sketched in the excerpt from Malone quoted below about these two big things coming down the pipe:

1. “‘Webphone’, a device that uses the Internet, a la Skype, as its transmission medium and thus escaping forever the tyranny of the phone companies.” Malone does not think Google will do the Webphone in its new Nexus. If/when it does arrive, he says such a device will “stun the tech world.” When the Webphone does arrive, it will stun the education world by ending establishment control of learning content. A student with a Webphone will have individual, free access to the internet in his or her pocket. Here are some opportunities educators should be preparing for in the coming Webphone era:

  • Only open educational resources (OER) will be findable online by Webphones doing searches.
  • Because educational resources will move to the cloud, they become globally within reach.
  • Connecting to any education resource can only happen via a single url (node) making it necessary to optimize nodes for findability (or, for sure, they will not be found)
  • You may think of others . .  .

2. Apple’s new “‘category-buster,’ . . . think of an oversized iPod Touch, but no doubt with much of the functionality of a personal computer (not to mention all of those iPhone apps). It will also no doubt, have one or two very cool and unexpected new features . . . .” Of course, the iPod Touch is already a wireless way to access the internet without phone company control. Webphone changes for education again come into play. Other factors educator might anticipate in mulling how to teach toward students interacting with stuff to learn through their Apple tablet that is interfacing the internet:

  • Should, and how should, curricula and pedagogy in general intrude into the natural patterning of knowledge subjects in the open internet?
  • Can, and should, education standards writers impose grade levels upon learning resources being directly accessed by students? Here, for example, are expertly curated learning resources online; what is education’s remaining role in standardizing them, if any?
  • Library of Congress Today in History
    Molecule of the Week

  • How else should educators anticipate the handschooling era that is fast upon us?

moleculeAs this image from the Molecule of the Week reminds us, patterns of networking nodes emerge to create much of the real and virtual worlds. Educators need capture this emergent abundance from within OER. To do so education must focus on two kinds of nodes: the ones online that form OER (not the just the bundled pedagogy) and the nodes that each are a student toting 24/7 access to the internet cloud.

. . . But if any could stun the phone world it would be Google.  It too [like Apple] is full of smart, arrogant people, the company has lots of dough, and because phones are outside its core business it can in theory take a big risk without worrying about legacy issues.  For example, as many industry insiders have suggested, Google could stun the tech world – and hit Apple at its weakest point – by coming out with a “Webphone”, a device that uses the Internet, a la Skype, as its transmission medium and thus escaping forever the tyranny of the phone companies.  There’s a lot of problems with that strategy, of course, but it would certainly shock the world, and put Apple on the defense.

Unfortunately, the early reports suggest that what Google will introduce next week, the Nexus One, will be a largely conventional smartphone.  That’s a pity, because I suspect Google will never get this chance again.

Meanwhile, strong on momentum and flush with cash, Apple isn’t waiting around for the world to catch up with it.  Two weeks from now, the company is expected to introduce yet another category-buster:  this time it’s rumored to be a tablet device – think of an oversized iPod Touch, but no doubt with much of the functionality of a personal computer (not to mention all of those iPhone apps).  It will also no doubt, have one or two very cool and unexpected new features that will make it a gotta-have for Apple fanatics everywhere.  Once again, Apple will have a new product that challenges convention, seemingly obsoletes an entire multi-billion dollar industry (in this case, handheld computers) while overwhelming a second, newer industry (netbooks, such as the Kindle) and yet is still stunning to look at.

UPDATE: Coursesmart has a video imagining Apple’s tablet from the viewpoint of textbook publishers.

Take online courses to advance your career.

Is open education stuff really open, nuanced, or decided at a table?


Posted on 1st January 2010 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Emerging Online Knowledge, Golden Age of Learning, Golden swamp defined, Networks and Open Content

openTableA very interesting, complex conversation about what open content for education means is underway among several of the top thinkers in the field. Back in November, David Wiley wrote a post called “Defining ‘Open.’” George Siemens weighed in with “Open isn’t so open anymore” in which he took issue with David’s statement that: “open is a function of gradients (”a continuous, not binary, construct”).” David responded yesterday in detail, George has responded there. There are many comments to the posts. The Reverend also wrote about the conversation yesterday; I grabbed the open table image from that post.



I thought it would be fun to toss  illustrations into the mix, if only because I am a “stubborn, irritating, aggravating visionary” of the sort George says we need in his introductory paragraph. So let me be aggravating: It makes little difference if pedagogy is open, nuanced, or behind a wall. Curricula, courses, textbooks, lesson plans — pedagogical content — are great to have online, but are essentially analog teaching tools. As the image to the left suggests, pedagogical stuff now draws some content from the open internet, but is not using the networking laws of the internet for cognitive organization nor to mirror ideas directly to a learning mind.

Pedagogical tools and the knowledge they teach are not the same thing! It is the knowledge that must be open for learning gold to emerge from the internet swamp. Knowledge itself is network of cognitive nodes that has nestled into the online open (only open) network.  This is the theme of my blog where I advocate that the time has come for education to engage the network power of online knowledge.

openBreckIn this third image, I have suggested a pattern of knowledge emerging from where it openly networks online. The huge change when this is allowed to happen in learning is that this emergent pattern mirrors directly into the networking mind of a student. Open (yes, binary open) is absolutely necessary for every node that participates in patterns of this sort. Proof that this sort of networking is real and very powerful is illustrated in the Los Alamos Map of Science, which I used in the above illustration. Here in a larger size is a portion of that networking, captured from the reality of what is going on online with cognitive knowledge:


Online knowledge organizes itself better than educators can do it

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Posted on 30th December 2009 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Networks and Open Content

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A recent post posits how knowledge for learning is growing as a superorganism from which everyone on earth can learn. That superorganism is a network that lives within the open internet. The first image (above) sketches how the learning mind, which is a network, can directly apprehend patterns of knowledge from the network that forms the superorganism online of what is known by humankind. That apprehending can be thought of as the mind mirroring patterns it encounters on the internet.

If the learning mind can apprehend knowledge patterns from the emergent knowledge online, why then is it that we spend $$ billions every year on systems of knowledge delivery to education that look something like the second image (below)? Would it not make more sense to curate the online knowledge nodes and network, refining them to signal among themselves to create cognitive patterns to mirror directly into learning minds?
The education establishment has assumed from the beginning of the internet era that it was they who should judge, select, and organize knowledge to be learned that is located on the internet. There is a fatal flaw in those assumptions: in the open internet, the knowledge self-judges, self-selects, and organizes itself better than those things can be done by educators because human knowledge is itself a network and obeys network laws. My statement here is radical, I know. It is also a fact of the internet that is morphing learning resources into the superorganism of what is known by humankind. It is a truth too beautiful not to be true and enormously hopeful for the global future.

Musings on how online networking knowledge mirrors our learning brain


Posted on 29th December 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Networks, Open Content and SEO

museBrainNetworkOur brain is a network. The illustration of the brain here is from Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. The Author Summary of the article begins: “In the human brain, neural activation patterns are shaped by the underlying structural connections that form a dense network of fiber pathways linking all regions of the cerebral cortex.”

museBrainNetworkThe knowledge that our brain takes in as we learn is also a network. The networking of knowledge — study subjects that form what is known by humankind –  is illustrated in the images here from the Los Alamos Map of Science. As we use the internet to learn, we can observe and learn the patterns that emerge from knowledge networking online. The internet is the first mirror medium of the networking of ideas we have ever had. It promises a global golden age of learning. We should be using it more in education and working to stimulate its cognitive networking.

museBooksBefore the internet mirrored the networking of ideas, the main way students had for locating nodes of stuff to learn by connecting ideas is illustrated here: We would get them one-by-one out of books and then make the network of their relationships in our minds.

museCMSSince the internet came along, educators have used content management systems, curricula, and the like to harvest learning stuff nodes from the internet and organize the nodes into patterns to convey to students’ minds. This approach should be understood and developed so as to include in the harvest the naturally networking patterns of the open internet.

The arriving choice for poor kids in inferior schools


Posted on 20th December 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile Learning, Open Content and Schools We Have Now


This week, Congress voted to end a proven program that was sending achieving District of Columbia students to private schools where they were successful students. The Washington Post headline called it ‘Duplicitous and Shameful’ in a report that begins:

The waiting is finally over for some of the District of Columbia’s most ambitious school children and their parents. Democrats in Congress voted to kill the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides 1,700 disadvantaged kids with vouchers worth up to $7,500 per year to attend a private school. . . .

In terrible schools across America, students are supposed to learn subject standards that keep going lower, and little help is usually available in learning even the less and less of government controlled expectations.

The illustration I have made and posted above indicates a new choice.

On the left, government — state and federal — decide what kids learn.

On the right, a student uses a mobile internet browser to engage unlimited knowledge.

As more and more kids put a smartphone in their pockets, they each can connect to the global knowledge commons. Students like those who were dismissed from good schools this week by the politicians have a choice to go where knowledge is selected in the open internet.

As to the knowledge available online, we should no longer let the education establishment hold the internet judgmentally at arms length. Every education energy should work to optimize the full range of study subjects online knowledge to be findable for those who teach and learn.

Education is overdue dealing with the data deluge


Posted on 16th December 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Networks, Open Content and SEO

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It is unacceptable to teach standardized dabs of school subjects to youngsters who will be confronted in their careers by the data deluge described in Science Times this week:

In a speech given just a few weeks before he was lost at sea off the California coast in January 2007, Jim Gray, a database software pioneer and a Microsoft researcher, sketched out an argument that computing was fundamentally transforming the practice of science.

Dr. Gray called the shift a “fourth paradigm.” The first three paradigms were experimental, theoretical and, more recently, computational science. He explained this paradigm as an evolving era in which an “exaflood” of observational data was threatening to overwhelm scientists. The only way to cope with it, he argued, was a new generation of scientific computing tools to manage, visualize and analyze the data flood.

In essence, computational power created computational science, which produced the overwhelming flow of data, which now requires a computing change. It is a positive feedback loop in which the data stream becomes the data flood and sculptures a new computing landscape.

The image posted above is from a screenshot of how Google’s “Wonder wheel” search feature offers related subjects for a search for “Organelles of the Eukaryotic Cell.” The search returned about 518,000 data links for organelles.

The education establishment has dealt with the abundance of data Jim Gray described primarily by screening and choosing for students. The practice has been to deliver pre-selected knowledge items via standards, textbooks, curricula, and courses — all of which are creatures of the analog age now almost over. Education has yet to embrace the reality that computing is fundamentally transforming the practice of engaging knowledge.

Education as the selective gatekeeper to learning inevitably will be swept away by the deluge of data available in the hands and pockets of essentially all students within a handful of years. Education must, as science must, give learners access to: a positive feedback loop in which the data stream becomes the data flood and sculptures a new computing education landscape.

A major step toward a more positive feedback to education is making resources findable at the node level at the time experts put their subject knowledge online. The effect of that is to open the gates of knowledge, connecting those who know the most to those who would learn their subjects.

Little open pieces of what is known will unify virtual edu


Posted on 19th November 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Golden swamp defined, Networks and Open Content

The natural granularity of knowledge itself will inexorably cause order to emerge out of the now chaotic jumble of online education. Click “open” and “shut” in the above animation to see the simple network principle: When little pieces of what an institution or expert knows are released into the online networks of ideas, these pieces follow network laws attracting them to link as nodes into patterns of related ideas.

For the past dozen plus years, there have been many sorts of “edu” stuff put online: museum exhibits, the work of science labs, webpages by college professors and departments, lesson plans, curricula, and courses. Some of this has been OER (open educational resources). Much of it is proprietary — for sale — to schools and libraries and/or generated at universities for use within their ivy firewalls. Most of it has been bundled in big pieces, trapping the nodes of ideas in bundles of pedagogy. Like proprietary resources and the building in the animation, a course or curriculum or textbook is shut. The bits of knowledge cannot release into the open  patterning network of subjects and ideas.

OPEN AND UNBUNDLED ARE THE FIRST KEYS: As little pieces are released, they enrich the global commons, and are vetted naturally so the best of the stuff is emerged from virtual chaos.  Network laws will force and form the global commons of what is known by humankind within the open internet. I call the open portion of the internet the golden swamp because of this phenomenon.

THE THIRD KEY IS FINDABILITY: If you are an expert in some area of knowledge, you can add to the commons by putting what you know online in open and unbundled webpages. But there is one more crucial step: You need to optimize those webpages so they are findable in the network. Here are a couple of articles I have written on this third principle:

The Curious Case of the Polio Virus Learn Node
OER: The Sleeping SEO Giant

And this is my favorite example of how the network naturally elevates what is known by humankind: Tables of Elements

The scarcity of learning sources is contrived, the best stuff is free.


Posted on 12th November 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile Learning, Networks and Politics in the swamp

The gushing spigots of money poured into analog educational materials manufacture a scarcity that belies the reality of 21st century learning resources. Billions alloted into the printed walled gardens of textbooks and digital walled gardens of for-pay school resources deepen economic woes — to say nothing of dumbing down kids because open online resources are long tail instead of bell curve, and are more and better.

Teaching and learning should now, and inevitably* will, use the open internet instead. An individual’s mobile internet browser will become the primary access to knowledge for each student and teacher. We should be working to make this happen soon. “Shame on us” when we do not do so.

I grabbed the “shame on us” phrase from a post today by Carlo Longino at a leading mobile blog called As I read the post, I realized the phenomena being described are inevitably going to reshape education. This bit is key:

The idea that “people will be more than willing to pay” is only correct in an environment of scarcity. But we’re past that point in the internet space, either wired or wireless. Any scarcity has to be contrived and manufactured, with things like walled gardens — which, of course, didn’t (and don’t) work.

Because education is “public” (socialism), the decisions about to paying are far removed from the minions spending the money. In this milieu, the scarcity myth endures, muddled up in politics, special interests, and bureaucracy. Billions are spent on educational resources that are or easily could be globally available for free online. Abraham Lincoln observed that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. How long will taxpayers be willing to pay?

*Even if the taxpayers don’t catch on, this change is inevitable because network laws rule. Now that learning resources are emergent online, it is only a matter of time before they break down the garden walls of learning resources. What broke the grip of the music industry and is now going on with main stream media will happen soon to educational materials. It has already begun.