[nfbmi-talk] Education for Everyone

Fred Wurtzel f.wurtzel at comcast.net
Fri Apr 16 00:15:30 UTC 2010



Here is a good article.  I'm not sure about the degree to which this author
depends on technology, but the idea is right on.  The MCB college policy
team needs to read this.


Warmest Regards,




The Big Think: The Radical Notion of Making Education Free

GOOD Education


Peter Hopkins

 on April 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm PDT

Howard Gardner, educator

 and psychologist is fond of saying, "If you think education is expensive,
try estimating

the cost of ignorance." It's become all too relevant in today's struggle

a worldwide recession, intensifying global competition, and the
ever-mounting cost

of higher education.


Gardner explains in a Big Think interview

, the restriction of formal education to the elite made economic, if not

sense until about a century ago, when economic pressures did not require the

population to be educated beyond basic literacy. Today, however, with
massive transformations

in the nature of labor and communications, our world has grown far too
complex, and

the cognitive tools we need to thrive in our daily lives too protean and

to justify limiting education to only one segment of the population.

Yet traditional models of education, wherein teachers and students gather

the confines of a school for a set number of years, have been slow to
evolve. Access

to higher education remains glaringly expensive, and institutions are

to develop a form of pedagogy that is dynamic, flexible, and individualized

to prepare students for the staggering demands of life in this new economy.

At a time like this, when reform is frozen in political impasse, the latent

possibilities of new media must be taken seriously. Historically used as a

of entertainment, media in the 21st century needs to fulfill its role as a

for a world-class and worldwide education.

Operating in a realm shaped by the ideals of free and open, new media is

suited to democratizing education and distributing resources more broadly
than, say,

a traditional academic venue. The absurd inconsistency of, for example,
being able

to access almost any song or TV show for free online, yet having to pay,

and compete for high-quality information and knowledge-based training, can

be corrected through existing technology.

And yet, the emergence of "smart media" companies gives us perhaps the
greatest learning

tool to appear in centuries. The ability to combine an array of mediums-from

to graphics to text-and render information in innovative and compelling
ways, means

that we can do more to keep students engaged than ever before.

Just as importantly, we can tailor this engagement to suit each student's

educational preferences and abilities-consider, for instance, analytical

services that detect how individuals interact with the information being

to them. These tools are able to gauge and predict, with unprecedented

the manner in which a viewer engages with the content on their screen,
defining which

methods of presenting information resonate most compellingly for each
viewer, and

the approaches that do not.

These technologies-currently used almost exclusively by online marketers to

digital advertising networks, such as Google, billions in revenue-have the

to dramatically impact our understanding of, and expectations for, student

And in this way, make way for a form of media that appreciates and evolves
with the

individual needs of students in the digital age.

Finally, making education free, engaging, and of the highest possible
quality is

the driving vision behind Big Think. As eloquently expressed by a recent

Princeton scholar Cornel

West (see above): "No school has a monopoly on truth."

We are lucky to live in a time when revolutionary changes to education are

The only question is whether we can embrace new media with enough
enthusiasm, intelligence

and creativity so that it might achieve its true potential.

Peter Hopkins is the co-founder and President of Big Think, an online

portal committed to developing the growing conversation about where we are
and where

we are headed.

Read More from GOOD Education

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