MIT Press

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Jane Park, June 26th, 2009

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) announced a new report called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age,” now available at MIT Press. The report is in response to our changing times, and addresses what traditional educational institutions must know to keep up. From the announcement,

“Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg in an abridged version of their book-in-progress, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges. This report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.”

A central finding was that “Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

Not coincidentally, one of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education: “Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The report is available in PDF via CC BY-NC-ND.

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H-Net Reviews

Jane Park, September 29th, 2008

H-Net is “an international consortium of scholars and teachers…[creating] and [coordinating] Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. H-Net is committed to pioneering the use of new communication technology to facilitate the free exchange of academic ideas and scholarly resources.” Recently, H-Net took a step towards facilitating this free exchange by licensing their online scholarly reviews of various books in the humanities and social sciences CC BY-NC-ND. Normally, scholarly reviews take a while to come out in print journals, so the online reviewing system of H-Net is effective in not only providing timely access to these reviews but also in stimulating response and discussion via their discussion networks, where each review is also published. 

ccLearn supports this step towards increasing openness and hopes for greater progress from H-Net in the future. MIT Press also recently licensed their publication, “Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge,” CC BY-NC-ND—but unfortunately the No Derivatives term prevents remixing and adaptation for different contexts and needs. The ability to change and build on educational resources is a freedom that educators, students and researchers find not only incredibly useful but integral to the nature of their work. We hope to see more in this vein from both H-Net and MIT Press in the future!

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“Opening Up Education”

Jane Park, September 18th, 2008

is the new publication by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and MIT Press exploring “the potential of open education to transform the economics and ecology of education.” Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge is a collection of thirty essays written by leaders in the open education movement. From the press release:

[They] reflect on current and past open education initiatives, offer critical analyses, share the strategic underpinnings of their own work, and delve into open education’s implications in three areas: technology, content, and knowledge. Together, they address the central question of how open education can improve the quality of education.

Co-editor M. S. Vijay Kumar is also quoted:

A look at the landscape tells us that efforts with open education so far have been largely confined to attempts at improving what we already do. While this is certainly valid, we encourage consideration of approaches that transcend traditional practices, organizations, disciplines and audiences.” 

John Seely Brown agrees in his Foreword, “We need to reconceptualize twentieth-century education models, and at the same time reinforce learning outside of formal schooling. This book provides real leverage for open education, and is a major step toward creating a culture of learning for this century.”

The book is also edited by Toru Iiyoshi and is available for download at MIT Press under CC BY-NC-ND.

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