05/12 Education 3.0
I recently held a lecture about what I have chosen to call Education 3.0, without a specific definition. The following presentation will offer you few, if any, conclusions, but hopefully raise a number of useful questions. The text below are my notes, and should be seen i relation to the slides. The big picture is the development from what we may characterise as"education 1.0" towards the imaginary "education 3.0". Even though we probably left the mindset of education 1.0 several decades ago it will be a fundamental misunderstanding if we also dismissed every method and insight from previous generations of educators when we are approaching new technologies. Education 1.0
Mainly a one-way process
Technologies of Web 2.0 are used to create more diverse education, but within the framework of 1.0.
More free and open systems, open content and a new understanding of learning.
Happening in sectors not dominated by the current mindset?
Education 3.0, or whatever we choose to call it, is not like we are inventing something like the wheel. It is more like we are enhancing the performance of the vehicle. This, however, will influence our practices and how we think about the use of the vehicle - education.
At least two lessons learned:
Things are not always what they seem
The "best" technical solutions are not always what makes it into a technology
This can be examplified by thee “Holtzer-Cabot” was one of the first successful electric vehicles. It was one of the first to feature a steering wheel, and it was manufactured as a commercial venture, not only for demonstration purposes. It was built i the 1890s, but it was the T-Ford that really defined the car-market, about twenty years later. Their appearance are pretty much the same, but the underlying technical solutions are very different. When the technical solutions meets social practices in society, they defined a technology - cars - with profound implications on the development of society. Cars have been changing since the early 1900s: they became designed, got stronger engines, they went at faster speeds , and after a long while they even became safer. Still, when it comes to issues like fuel economy today´s cars are not much better than the T-Ford.
What to learn from this. Sometimes parts of an evolving technology is falling behind.
Education has changed, and will change profoundly, just like cars. Still, to the observer, things may look pretty much the same. We have to be able to identify the differences between the development of the parts of a technology that meets the eye, and the development of the underlying technical solutions. This is true when it comes to cars, and it is true when it comes to education. Education is a technology or at least a mixture of related technologies.
What changes in education is perhaps visible at the surface, like in the classroom, in the way we give assignments and how we evaluate student works. Many argue that there are few substantial changes in education, but - as with cars - what is really changing might be less visible, coming in under the radar.
So, the question becomes: How do we look for the solutions that might be the potential gamechangers in education?
Of course, the only sure thing about predictions about the future are that they are most likely wrong. This is where Alan Kay´s saying come in handy. Kay's vision for the Dynabook was that we all become able to experiment with technology, but he also hopes it will create, what he calls, a "skeptical man." It should be possible for every kid, student and educator everywhere to test what he or she is being told either against arguments of others or by computer simulation. To facilitate the skeptical man Kay came up with the concept for the Dynabook in the late 1960s. The Dynabook was not only the idea of the first personal computer. Kay also wanted the Dynabook concept to embody specific learning theories. He was inspired by Jerome Bruner, who in his book Process of Education stated that 'knowing how something is put together is worth a thousand facts about it." The vision can be summarised in "learning by doing", that is producing and experimenting with information and technical solutions, to invent technology instead of waiting for it to happen.
Following this vision with the purpose of developing useful content and services for education, we need to be deeply rooted in the practice of education. Not necessarily the current practice, but we have to be able to continuously test our creations in a real life environment. Only when this practical foundation is there we can make learning theories really useful, and compare these theories with the potential in technology and then finally make somewhat qualified decisions about design. Hopefully for an outcome that, more or less, answer the visions given by theory.
With this in mind I will try to look into some of the solutions that may facilitate Education 3.0. Like the electric car we can be pretty sure that the concepts, the technical solutions and the necessary theories are already there. It is up to us to make the right choices and merge some of it into useful educational technologies.
At the top of the list we find "Collaboration". Every professional learn by implicit collaboration with a large number of more or less known contributors. This is nothing new: we have always been copying, transforming and maybe, from time to time adding something new to the work of others.
To try to understand how learning in general is influenced by increased collaboration I try to look at education as communication. I try to stand on the shoulders of Jan Bordewijk and Ben van Kaam, who in the 1980s, when the media landscape was rapidly changing, explained the new possibilities given by communication services with a model that describes the relationships between information providers and information consumers.
Rather than studying media's technical characteristics, genres or content, Bordewijk and van Kaam came up with their model answering two initial questions about the “provider” (e.g. the educator) and the “consumer” of information (e.g. the student):
Is the information owned by a information centre or by an individual information consumer?
Is the transmission and use of the information controlled by a information centre or by an individual information consumer?
These are questions about the power-relations between different actors, and I believe they have relevance to how we think about the use and the design of learning resources.
Bordewijk & van Kaam saw that within the framework of the coming communications systems users could be in dialogue with one another in new ways. Various implementations of the concept Personal Computer was a substantial contributor to this broader frame of reference.
Without going into more detail: Before the World Wide Web, public media was very centralised. Individual production did of course exist, but there were no really effective channels open to individuals. Users were consumers.
This level of control is of course no longer possible. Or, is it?
As a scholar interested in the development of media I find that this model seem to reappear within many applications. Combined with some service providers control over hardware and software distribution we look into something, which do not seem to be very different from the old regime. I will not jump to conclusions, but these perspectives are worth thinking about.
In education we can see a somewhat similar level of control. Or at least: a wish for control. Wikipedia, which in many respects is the ultimate collaborative tool, and a superb information resource, is often banned in education.
Today the questions about who control information give much more complex answers, because we no longer can limit the scope to "information centre" and "individual users". What the Internet has brought into the loop is the users as a collective. Of course it will be extremely naive to claim that this is something that came into society only because of the Internet. The relationship between the users as a collective force and media was arguably introduced by Gutenberg. The printing press led to the scientific revolution, mass media and the idea of an national state governed by representatives elected by the public.
Nevertheless, what is profoundly new is the ability to collaborate in large numbers in close to real time. Collaboration and information sharing that can not exist without networked devices. In education one consequence is that there will almost always be possible to find information that one can add to what is given by the curriculum. What can be characterised as a strategic control of communication and thereby knowledge creation is no longer possible.
The information society favors those who are able to develop tactics that enable them to process large amounts of information and its relevance in many different contexts. An important skill is the ability to reformulate information in order to meet specific personal needs. The most successful are probably going to be the ones who are able to use information that initially is presented in separate contexts (including separate media), and reformulate this content so the new “text” fulfills a specific set of communication needs. In other words: collecting, condensing and evaluating different sources of information with the use of technology and the help of others turns into a fundamental part of Internet literacy.
Access to learning is a challenge in many parts of the world, and innovation in giving larger groups access to education is increasingly an expectation of governments. Innovations in these areas are increasingly coming from other parts of the world, including India, China, and not at least Africa. In many of these areas the cellphone is the most important, maybe even the only accessible communication device.
As an example: Higher education participation in parts of Africa is currently about 7%, where OECD states that 40-50% is needed for rapid economic growth. For the right players there are literally hundreds of millions of potential students worldwide. The most successful institutions will probably be those who become able to take advantage of technology to grow into these, completely new markets.
9 million have graduated from the Open University of China during the last 30 years. 1/10 of chinese students in higher education is from the Open University. As elsewhere the chinese also go for the global market.
In all parts of the world access to open and distance learning is the key to lifelong learning, and that the current international development forces traditional institutions to "open up". The infrastructure is there, but online accessibility has to be taken further, and it must be implemented as an institutional strategy to be really successful.
This is already happening as web-based teaching and flexible learning is growing rapidly internationally. By 2015 one expect that more than half of American students will get some of their education online. The Americans go for the global market too, and one weapon seems to be open learning resources and open courses.
The questions of access is closely connected to openness, one of the original virtues of education. At the same time, increased openness implies that authoritative sources lose their original position. Education will not be where you have to go to get information, but hopefully it will continue to be where students find curation and other forms of validation to help them make meaning in specific contexts.
This far the Internet has been fostering continuous innovation of numerous services with different characteristics. From many business perspectives one would like the Internet to be closed - almost like a pay per view channel - where commercial content providers will be able to give special treatment to paying customers. There are a number of potential gatekeepers, who all want to be able to get paid, both outside and inside education. Closed applications is an example of such a development.
There are a number of initiatives where institutions encourage open resources. Maybe I am being unfair, but it is my impression that many open repositories in education and research often end up relatively small and diverse, even when one try to join forces. At least when compared to some private initiatives. Of course Google is monitoring it all, so maybe it does not matter that much in the end.
Google is also the owner of the largest repository of them all - YouTube. A free and easy to use service, as long as I accept their terms of service. This is perhaps reasonable, given that it is a free service, but nevertheless I am not in control.
Apps for phones and tablets are the latest news, but when it comes to openness and content distribution this is quite consistent with the old regime, where information was paid for in physical, closed units. The visions for Education 3.0, with openness as one key element, may contradict with the idea of controlled applications.
A very local perspective on openness. The Centre for New Media at Bergen University College have a few webcourses, some of them publish the learning material open for everyone on the web. We also want the students to embrace the same kind of openness, asking them to publish their works on the web. Our argument is that public display add some important value to the communication. However, due to the students' right to privacy, this seems to be a practice that might have to end.
Copyright vs copyleft
To be able to decide whether something should be published open on the web, one has to be the holder of the Intellectual property rights. These are given by the laws that give creators some economical and moral rights, and thereby encourage content creators to make new works publicly available. On the other hand, the same laws are designed to secure that individuals get access to these works and allow use of works made by others for some purposes.
Today it seems fair to say that the legal notions of intellectual property lag somewhat behind the practices common in society.
Copyright have a long history. The British Statute of Anne, of 1710, was stating that printed books got a minimum protection of 14 years from the first publication, and if the author was still alive at the end of the 14 year period the protection was extended for a another 14 years. The same principle was used in the American Copyright Act of 1790.
Note that this was at a time when the cost of producing physical copies of books was extremely high compared to the printing of books today, and almost not possible to compare to the copying and distribution of digital content.
In this situation up to 28 years of exclusive copyright was considered enough, making it worthwhile to invest in creating and publishing books. In fact, when the same principle was used in the United States in the early nineteenth century only a small minority of the right-holders renewed their copyright after the first fourteen years. Today, economical rights to intellectual works are automatically protected for the creator's lifetime, plus up to an additional seventy years.
Copyright is good, but it is reason to discuss how long a creator should hold the exclusive economic rights. The negative side-effects of long lasting rights is that many works simply disappear from large parts of society. This chart shows a distribution of 2500 newly printed fiction books, selected at random from Amazon. A lot of books published in the 20th century is missing.
Beginning in 1923, most titles became copyrighted in the USA. Books from before 1923 tend to be in the public domain, and the result is that Amazon carries lots of them.
When it comes to audiovisual media things become even more complicated, because the number of rights holders is often huge. The Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein died in 1948, and his relatives no longer have any economic rights to the film October, made in 1927. Still, when someone puts music to this, originally silent movie, things changes.
I will by no means claim that the concept of copyright is a failure, but there is also historical evidence that tell us that a strong protection of intellectual property does not foster innovation, and it benefits countries with a strong position within a capitalistic system.
This elitism of intellectual property favours those owning the means of production and distribution. We can see still these differences between parts of society, between countries and not at least, between different parts of the world. In an age where so much of our digital content are in the cloud, and often clouds in different legal jurisdictions, the very concept of intellectual property becomes blurry.
Determining when it is legal to use a work, and when it not can be quite difficult. And if you have to get clearance from the rights holders, you must be prepared to use a lot of time and resources. In education we most often do not have the time nor the money to do this. We need another way to be sure that it is legal to use a work.
One of the reasons why I use the picture- and videoediting suite Adobe Elements for my students is the licensing on their help pages. As long as I do not take paid I am free to translate the texts and modify them if needed. This makes my life easier, and is a simple example of how it is good for business to give something away for free, when taking paid for something else.
To collaborate effectively you have to give up some of your intellectual property rights to those you are going to collaborate with. Connextions is a project which for several years has facilitated collaborative writing of textsbooks. This kind of collaboration often happen between people not known to each other, with limited possibilities to make formal agreements: Licensing regimes like Creative Commons makes it a whole lot easier to give away some rights.
Online collaboration and the sharing of resources require shared computer power, storage and continuous access. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over networks facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Storage and bandwidth have become "too cheap to meter" - a few paid, premium services pays the expenses for a large number of users who do not pay.
Free storage, bandwidth and computer power generates new services, in education and elsewhere, and the way we think about the use and value of information changes. One hour of video footage is uploaded every second to YouTube, over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day, and an open resource like Flickr holds more than 7 billion pictures.
Our expectation is that the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. There are some limits to most services, but to the average user there is practically limitless storage and bandwidth available for free. This influence on what different actors will be able to take paid for.
There is a rise in informal learning as communication with few limits redefine parts of education and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, even in higher education. Credibility and control are no longer given when learning takes place outside the educational systems.
Is it possible to imagine something like Hole-in-The-Wall in higher education? The Indian project places Learning Stations at playgrounds, and employ a collaborative learning approach to encourage children to explore available information. What would this look like in a Western society? Kahn academy is perhaps a part of the answer, using video and YouTube to make students able to explore specific problems in their own pace.
The Internet is becoming a global mobile network. Predictions says that by 2015, 80% of people accessing the Internet worldwide will be doing so from a mobile device. This is already the reality in many areas of the world, where the mobile network is the only way to get access to the Internet. There are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion have mobile broadband as well, and most new devices can access the mobile web.
Mobile learning is more complicated than just using a mobile device for E-Learning. It requires an entirely different approach. But many countries have a huge incentive to introduce mobile learning, even before building traditional institutions.
The value of a huge user base can be illustrated by the difference between two photo-services. Hipstamatic has been making money ever since they started in 2009. Instagram, o the other hand, has never made any profit, but was able to get a huge number of users - fast.
We know the rest of the story: Istagram was recently bought by Facebook at 1 billion dollars.
What is the right price for education if the only thing you are going to get paid for is an online service accessed on cellphones?
New business models
Online learning can be characterised as a disruptive technology in higher education, allowing both for-profit and traditional not-for-profit institutions to rethink the education model.
A disruptive technology is an innovation that improve a product or a service in ways that the existing market does not expect. Typically this happens when someone begin designing for a different set of user expectations and then enter an existing market by lowering the prices or with completely new services.
Universities without robust funding are facing a financial risk when high-quality online learning become a less expensive alternatives to traditional studies. In some areas changes in how accreditation is valued will come, and new institutions that are able to respond cost-effectively to the changing and diverse needs for higher education, will be taking a larger share in these markets.
Udacity is an example of a private educational organization founded with the goal of making free online university classes available to everyone. It is the outgrowth of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford University. As of 2012 Udacity has six courses running, and the founders hope half a million students will enroll, after an enrollment of 160,000 students in the course at Stanford, and 90,000 students had enrolled in the initial two classes as of March 2012. A small team is responsible for the site, and tens of thousands follow the courses online. If one become able to sell additional services to a fraction of these students one is probably going to make money.
I recently heard a talk by Jeremy Bailenson, from Stanford university, who discussed how virtual reality is changing social and psychological experiences. One example that I found extremely interesting was the use of avatar teachers making it possible to make lectures feel personal. Much of this technology is becoming cheap, like image recognition, behavioral filters and holograms.
Avatar teachers may sound like science fiction. However, the solutions are improving - fast. A few weeks ago long-dead hiphop star Tupac Shakur performed "live" at a festival. What is amazing is that the hologram was not a projection of existing footage, but a simulated avatar.
Combined with some of the examples Jeremy Bailenson talks about, where they put various behavioral filters on an avatar it becomes quite easy to imagine the personalised lecture. The teacher moves fast when the student is easily following, but spends more time as soon as there are signs that the student have difficulties following. This kind of teacher will be better than the real thing - the educator of education 3.0.
Still very relevant this illustration, form Joseph Licklider's article “The Computer as a Communication Device”, published in 1968, envisioned how computer technology should enhance communication.
So, whatever Education 3.0 may become we can try to invent the future by embracing the technologies that make a positive contribution to the values that we believe characterise good education.