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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

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Volume III – Chapter Eight

(Last updated June 18, 2008)


We know very little and understand even less. – Lewis Thomas.

There is only one way. Build and test a prototype. – Michael Dertouzos.

The problem still remains of teaching tomorrow’s citizens to think for themselves…It seems unlikely that the political structure of the public school system will ever allow the kind of critical thinking necessary… -- Howard Rheingold

Poverty is the villain. -- Jack Hollander

This chapter summarizes. At the heart of economic poverty is a poverty of education, and `news poverty, the fact that most people lack accurate and comprehensive information about the world we live in, its problems and crises, and alternative ideas about solutions. One interesting new idea is the Integral Institute and its  `Integral University. . Another is an effort to enlist some developing world youth in developing ways to use information technology for community development in poverty areas: <Youth future shifters <http://www.futureshifters.net/> In  a 2005 UNESCO online virtual university conference, key people in 87 countries discussed issues in free `open source online content.' Since education often involves graft, educators were interested in <http://www.sed.manchester.ac.uk/idpm/research/events/PoliticalCorruption/>.better governance to reduce graft.

The Internet could, indeed, bring education to everyone on the planet but a vast number--even of youngsters--cannot take advantage of the opportunity because of their lack of income. Eight hundred million that ought to be in school must work all day for family income. Hundreds more cannot do well in school because they are hungry. We should end these three volumes with a summary chapter to `bring everything together,' global research and planning on poverty, environmental pollution, global health care, and more, but perhaps the best we can do here is point out (1) that education is crucial for coping with all such human problems. (2) That a `grand research  on everything' concurrently is s difficult at a `theory of everything' in Physics but (3) perhaps the development of a global-scale education plan can demonstrate  the possibility  in other areas as well.

The massive destructive hurricane that demolished the great city of New Orleans in late summer 2005, and the tsunami tidal waves that were so destructive in South Asia may remind us that it is time, for example, to quit arguing about what causes global warming--or poverty-- and get on with doing what must be done to better prepare our planet for all kinds of impending disasters. The phrase angry planet. can also remind us  that tglobal-scale planning must take account of an increasingly angry young generation, billions facing unemployment, hunger, disease and ineffective global politics and planning. Education is crucially at the center of any plans to meet such global-scale needs, but it must be research-based education that deals concurrently with all the major social crises.

In Volume I we called for an international online conference, perhaps on the scale of the 1997 Paris UNESCO conference on the university, or the GK 97 conference in Toronto that made provision for the participation of many usually-unheard voices from the developing world (more on this idea in 3.10). Now we raise questions about a possible agenda for relating poverty to that system  to provide essential `lifelong education for all.’ Chapter 3.9 will propose online tutoring  technology for children, juveniles, and for lifelong education. We propose a global planning conference or conferences  that would more or less bypass the bureaucracies, discovering how converging new technologies might best help such as those proposed below an in the 400-page report: <http://itri.loyola.edu/ConvergingTechnologies/Report/NBIC_pre_publication.pdf>.

From a technological view, a long-range online global-scale planning consultation might examine the following

(1) A global semantic web, grid, network—devoted exclusively to education, or poverty reduction and other issues, with related satellites.  Huge numbers of learners in many countries are going to have cheap `cell phone' type devices that have Internet connections, a small TV screen  and streaming  video, with access to hundreds of channel, iPod recording of lectures, Instant Messaging and software that can organize everything to an individual learner's needs and preferences. See Silvio (2003) of a UNESCO Institute of higher learning and EDUCAUSE, November 2000. 

(2) A `matrix’ of cross-indexed curricula and other content resources (3.7) in a system of  free electronic online textbooks. For a sample listing see: <http://www.directoryofschools.com/link/edu. (on free to the world open software, courses, etc., see: <http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=354 and subject index here. On learner portfolios see: <http://www.eife-l.org/publications/eportfolio/>. Downes (2007) reports on the more than 100 universities on five continents that "seek to empower people worldwide" through  the OpenCourseWareConsortium. It is a clearing house for free to the world online courses like the entire curriculum of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology .  Downs reminds higher education institutions that the world's knowledge is entrusted to universities but does not belong to them, it belongs to the people of the world.

(3) An emerging `cosmopedia,’ (described in 1.3.1) that begins by linking all online encyclopedias and reference books to make them also available to learners anywhere, anytime. And an online global library of all other recommended books and materials (beginning with all existing online--but not copyrighted materials-- especially including original sources and UN research documents, etc.) Where necessary a per-minute or other use fee could be charged for copyrighted materials. This begins with Internet indexing and online open textbooks and resources like Wikipedia books..

(4) Provision for aid to and partnerships with neighborhood learning centers (See 2.18) to foster a bottom up-- not top down--process of neighborhood development..  

(5) Free courses online for all ages, disadvantaged schools, and needs with auto-feedback for continuing revision, including job training for teachers and those who counsel on courses. On multimedia materials:  <http://opencontent.org/>,<http://creativecommons.org/learn/technology/>. .<http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,20276,00.html>.Young 2005 discusses MIT and others that are offering their courses online free anywhere. .From China: <http://www.core.org.cn/en/conferences/index_2004.htm.

(6) A global online catalog and access, via password, to all recommended distance education e-courses, modules, learning technologies from all suppliers including for-profit sources. Foster (2008) described a `wiki type' catalog of books in all libraries, free of charge, that plans free access to books that are not copyrighted.

7) Automatic Language translation facility which gradually would make everything available first in five or six `international’ languages, with the goal of machine translation into all languages and dialects in time. This would include all kinds of language, such as math, music, computer languages (and on multimedia literacy see Marriott 2003)

(8) A system of automated testing that recognizes when mastery of material or skills is accomplished. See, for example, Quantum Tutoring's `intelligent assessment engine and automatic grading:' <http://www.distance-educator.com/dnews/Article12869.phtml>. Automated essay scoring: <http://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/>.

(9) An automated online tutoring and counseling system for individual learners and those who advise them. Currently there has been less interest in artificial intelligence `intelligent' tutoring systems; however, see Carnegie Mellon's effective math tutor: <http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~aleven/ctat.html>.and' . <http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~tanja/instruct.html> In Chapter 3.9 here, Professor Bork outlines a simpler and less expensive system including use of CDs in areas that cannot yet afford more expensive technology. Note also the University of Toledo experiment with EPSILEN, that many universities are not using for a portfolio for each student: <http://utassessment.utoledo.edu/epsilen/default.asp>.

(10) A global portal to help users navigate the `global lifelong learning system,’ individually and via neighborhood learning centers. Campbell ( 2006) proposes "and unprecedented opportunity" for information technology to make possible a coordinated system for each unique individual that would bring together all aspects and  learning, such as those listed in this numbered section.

(11) Online science and other co-laboratories where learners and researchers meet via telecommunications and streaming video. 

(12) Chat rooms and other informal meeting places for learners, which can create online community, and that can help researchers find others who are researching the same topic. Guterman (2008) reported the enlarging use fo `social networks' by scientific researchers as a way to share their findings and collaborate, with software to share procedures, step by step rather than just an article about findings and with web links to related studies.

(13) A continuing `education conference’ on standards  (2.3), research on pedagogy and the development of a cogent educational philosophy and for global administration. A `peer review’ plan for evaluating everything that is on the education web/network, including a review of political, social, environmental, economic, etc., implications. This not only means review and criticism by experts, but also automatic feedback from learners and teachers. (See 3.4 below)

(15) And of course forthcoming imaginative new tools and aids, many not yet anticipated or imagined. It is time, Dertouzos (2000) has said, to transform “our machine-oriented mind-set” into one that begins with what learners and teachers actually do and need to do. For instance, he says, they need to get rid of overload, to be able to do more and better things in less time and “to do what has never before been possible, especially things in education that will really improve society and the lives of everyone in the world.”

 Below we expand some of these possibilities, both for education and poverty reduction.


How can a whole population be educated in an open and inclusive  process of two-way communication? What communication tools and technologies are essential? Those that we here propose as essential in bringing job training and education, via the Internet, to everyone on the planet. ".Strategic communication intervention cannot be occasional and ad  hoc," the report insists.."It must be integrated and institutionalized... not only  focused on public education or raising awareness about a set of issues but also on " the socio-political and  economic dynamics of a society: language, culture, attitude, and  behavioral patterns; level of engagement, position and influence of stakeholders; structural issues such as media and the information  environment and the nature and capacity of the civil society.".

.Duderstadt (2001) has proposed that the most dramatic impact of emerging and converging technology “will occur when learning experiences are reconceptualized” to capture their power. New tools “such as gaming technology, tele-immersion, tele-presence and in simulation of physical phenomena” will replace the lecture, the `talking head’ where learners have a passive experience. He has predicted that “sophisticated networks and software environments” can be used “to break classrooms loose from the constraints of space and time and make learning available to anyone, anyplace, anytime.” He sees information technology as leveraging and enhancing “educational span”

“Imagine,” Sturnik (2000) proposed, “a completely new description of what learning is, how it occurs and who benefits from it,” certainly not just for an elite, and “when all learning and information is available in cyberspace.” Tiffin (2001) proposed that the Internet will be succeeded by `HyperReality’ that will make possible a virtual online class or lab in three dimensions. In that spirit, rather than repeating information from many previous chapters, let’s here try to look at some future possibilities from the perspective of many different kinds of individual learners, planners and researchers. Please use your own imagination in the spirit of Vinton Cerf who, Davis (2000) said, thinks “a few light years ahead of the rest of us mortals” as he proposed to “move the Net into outer space.” A global effort to standardize accreditation, certification and degrees is needed. We cab summarize this chapter in 3.8.1.


Those working on poverty and education in the developing world report that "free, independent and plural mass media are essential and require: (1) communication free of regulation,. (2) media access and  penetration., and (3) media content. All three can and are being provided via the Internet and other possible and varied delivery systems. The emergence of a new network culture, Taylor (2002) has said, is working fundamental and irreversible change” and an extraordinary transition that will affect every aspect of lifelong education. The network culture will include--but surpass--the Internet, as information becomes the substance of new social, political, economic and even biological processes.” The authors of a `Semantic Web’ article (3.8.7) point out that "human endeavor is caught in an eternal tension between the effectiveness of small groups acting independently and the need to mesh with the wider community.  Coordinating actions across a large group can be miserably ineffective, painfully slow and take an enormous amount of communication.

In December, 2003, a first conference on plans to provide Internet connections to all rural and neighborhood schools in the world--a million and a half that did not have them--was sponsored by the UN and the International Telecommunications Union. So we must ask how that process, without a vast bureaucracy and online, can be speeded up and made more effective. The summer 2001 Global Brain workshop (1.2) in Brussels examined implications of an Internet with much greater intelligence. For example, Scientific American, May 2001 in "The Semantic Web" reported that a more intelligent form of the World Wide Web will open up a revolution of new possibilities. The Semantic Web will not be something entirely new, but an extension of the current Web that will enable computers and people to work better in cooperation. Looking at this from the perspective of learners and teachers, we can take hope in the prediction that—soon---computers will be much better able to process and "understand" the data they merely present to us at present.

The Web can already link to anything but—according to Dertouzos it needs to discriminate between “the scribbled draft and the polished performance, between commercial and academic information, or among cultures, languages, media” and so on. Thus far the Web is most helpful to people by retrieving documents. We need a web that will process data automatically. Hopefully, like the Internet, the Semantic Web will be as decentralized as possible. “It will improve the accuracy of Web searches, looking for precise content. It will make it much easier to develop programs that can tackle complicated questions whose answers do not reside on a single Web page. Another vital feature will be as system that will verify that the attached information has been provided by a specific trusted source.” The semantic web should now, in time, not "merely" be the tool for conducting individual tasks but also will can assist the evolution of human knowledge as a whole. Dertouzos (2000) said that Semantic Web software will have the capability to enable "universally shared meanings." <www.w3.org>, < , < www.cs.umd.edu/projects/plus/SHOE/faq.html>

3.8.2  GLOBAL CURRICULUM (see 3.9)

Affordable technology's electronic materials cannot be cheap enough to serve the world's poor unless there is some standardization, mass production and mass distribution. Educause (September 2005) reported that Rice University's `connections project' goes a step beyond MIT's putting its entire curriculum on line. "Connections aggregates course materials" from any school with feedback for evaluation of materials. Princeton University is putting academic lectures online. In England BBC has a large grant to develop a new kind of curriculum. More courses are available on line that is generally realized, for example McGill and Carleton in Canada together have 3000 online..UNESCO has been encouraging local, bottom-up production of content that can be listed in a global catalog of `pay-per-view' videos.

A global curriculum may involve a combination of for-profit companies, nonprofit institutions and charitable organizations (such as foreign aid from governments and foundations.) Lessons learned from existing global education systems would suggest that a system for mass-production and mass marketing should be planned to pay its own way, perhaps with per minute charges for use of automated tutoring systems (like telephone long distance) and with scholarship grants and vouchers to pay for receiving equipment and e-materials.

Those dealing with poverty need online "workshops, radio and television programs, print materials such as brochures, simplified version of documents,  progress reports, budget education, participatory monitoring and  evaluation,  citizen report cards, community level interaction, community  radio and so on." There also must be a sort of curriculum that can be shared, "incorporating visuals such as cartoons and  basic simple pictures."  Systematic distance education projects can help over the long run with an organized curriculum on poverty and job training..Who will plan and create the new courses and whatever else is missing? However it is clear that vastly different cultures and individual needs mean there cannot be a global core curriculum. Instead there will be a vast cafeteria of courses onlien from all over the world.

However even at the end of the 21st century there probably will continue to be `elite’ learners who will have the advantages of an always increasing volume of new technologies and programs in blended education that will not yet be affordable for all. Already now the privileged can afford “thousands of hours of rich teaching content” and increasingly with “full-screen and full-motion video over the Internet.” (Gonick 2002) Others, as at present, will still begin with second-hand courses and technologies. Parents can do home teaching with online resources to add to and enrich what is available in their neighborhood.

The digital e-textbook, discussed in (3.7) will probably evolve—as predicted in Educause, March/April 2001--into `learning ware’, software “informed by research in learning theory” and that “allows active decision-making via simulations with parameters under the control of the learner, opportunities to create and/or interpret data, tutorial opportunities…presented in a multi-media format. Who is going to redesign, repackage and select courses to recommend, for example, to those who look to a neighborhood school in the developing world for help in  raising one’s own food? As Dembs (2002) asked: is there just to be an `international supermarket’ of courses, with the individual learning obliged to choose and decide on his or her diet? In the future, many learners themselves may be involved in course creation, at least by providing feedback during experimental and later `editions.' The University of Virginia announced (in online Edupage, Aug. 27, 200l ) that its virtual university would in time “let students create their own personalized curricula,” subject to approval. “Academic counseling expenses would be charged on an hourly basis.”

"New technology is changing not only what students should learn, but also what they can learn." (Resnik 2001) Until now many things important for them to learn have been omitted from curricula "because they were too difficult to teach and learn with only paper, pencil, books and blackboard." (Resnik 2001) They did not have "computer systems' to explore the complexities of ecosystems, economic systems or immune systems. Now there are tools to help learners study such systems at a much younger level. Learners now, and more so in the future, can focus on "strategies to focus on the things they do not know" rather than on "memorizing the capitals of the world." They are still like those who would want to put wooden wagon wheels on cars when they assume that "learning takes place only in classrooms, lecture halls and laboratories." Lifelong learning also takes place in "homes, museums, community centers and workplaces." So Resnik points to "Learning Lab Denmark...that studies learning in all settings and stages of life." Such a perspective enables "new types of knowledge-building communities in which children and adults collaborate on projects and learn from one another."   

Dertouzos--who died in 2001--foresaw a big change coming soon, although, he said, educators are far from designing the kinds of learning instruments that take advantage of "the rapidly advancing wireless terrain." From an educator’s view, he said, the most important change will be software "that will provide us with a `community of services,’ regardless of which device we may use." Dertouzos anticipated software "that will flow through devices;" much of which will not be in the computer at all, but available on the network. Instead of continually having to buy upgraded software, it can be usable on the Internet for a fee per minute. Software manufacturers will sell services instead of products; indeed integrated, dedicated, tailored services are already appearing. So Dertouzos anticipated "a mix of local and distant resources through flowing, nomadic software" tailored to meet individual needs. instruction dominated by words will be enlarged and made more interesting in “interactive virtual reality environments” that build on the technology of computer games and digital movie-making.

Needed, for example, are different and more imaginative tools for art, for math courses, for drama, for biology, created for example in partnership with real learners who are not computer geniuses. To illustrate what Dertouzos (2000) meant by adequate prototypes, he illustrated with a five-year experiment-- which began at MIT in 1999-- called `Oxygen,’ and some projects with similar objectives at other research centers. The brainstorming sessions that conceived of Oxygen sought to make a real difference in people’s lives; in a world (we would here say a world of learning) "where technology would be as abundant . . .as the air we breathe’ wherein the computer vanished into human centered tools. "Great ideas, enthusiasm, hard work, and money are essential for the evolution of a grand new project. And such an experiment must expect to fail, he said, as often as it succeeds, but we can learn from each failure how to proceed again with confidence that products worth mass-producing will in time be developed. Major corporations that are helping provide fifty million dollars share in that confidence.

`Oxygen' and other needed experiments begin by bringing together many kinds of needs and existing instruments. The plan was for hardware and software that would enable people "to interact naturally through speech and vision; " to "automate human actions" and "provide individualized access to the information they need." It should "help them work with each other across space and time." It should customize machines to the unique needs and wishes of each individual or project. To accomplish all that, he said, will require more than a thousand person-years. So will not even larger teams be required for a new and grand design for education?" (More on this below in section 3.8.15.)

However, Aldrich (2003) has pointed out that--as `the point of food is to nourish the body'--too much of online education is like `fast food' that tries to simplify for a mass-market. It does not necessarily improve the quality of content, which is crucial to effective lifelong learning. Aldrich warns against `subject-matter experts' and quotes Jan Boston of Lucas Learning about the possibility of `developing big ideas,' "those things  that experience along can deepen understanding." He sees the possibility for `deep learning" and therefore laments `bad learning' in which students mainly learn `how to beat the system,' to cram for tests, to feign interest, and to value traditional content that may not meet their personal learning needs at all. The alternative is move beyond the linear approach to give new attention to `what we teach and how we teach it.' Ayres and Grisham (2003) have noted the need for the creation of content and "the support for digital materials for teaching and scholarship." So "the massive investment in networks and computers will not pay off well until there is some sort of global education system so education planners can work together, not so much to create content on solving all basis human problems, including essential values. Katz (2005) wrote "If we believe that values do have a role in education, then the challenge may be to rehistoricize and rehumanize...Values--aesthetic, moral and civic--are important--..we need to put the reimagination of liberal education at the top of our agenda."


The MultiCentric Information Mapping System, InfoMap, Payne (1997) said, suggested how information and knowledge can be better managed in the future. Such a map can be applied to Knowledge management, Case Studies, Geographical Information Systems and a wide variety of knowledge databases. In a typical study a vast amount of information is collected. If a research tem involves many people, reviewing essentials information is very time consuming. Payne noted that the Internet, more than anything else, has opened up the world's eyes to the treasure houses of information we have available. A `Global Information Locator Service,‘ for example, has been created with aims <http://www.usgs.gov/gils/locator.html"to make it easy for people to find information of all kinds, in all media, in all languages, for all time." Reaching the goal, however, will not involve a huge, centralized "mental clearing house." A system that could summarize, digest, clarify, and compare all valued information would require a level of worldwide consistency in information storage and management that is very unlikely. So it must support the great diversity in how information is managed throughout the world. All data sources, digitized and otherwise, can be directly accessible through the service as long as they adhere to certain standards and makes information about information) available. No central authority or master index will be required. Standards for the locator are evolutionary and it will be a long-term undertaking in which technology will be rapidly changing.

One illustrative project <http://www.g7.fed.us/enrm> has been a locator service for environmental and natural resources data with information on worldwide environmental concerns. Its potential success was predicted because of the success, for exampleof the U.S. Governmental Information Locator Service. Note also the MultiCentric Information Mapping System.

Payne also pointed out that no piece of information is an island. It is always related to other information. Unfortunately bibliographies and hypertext only record that two pieces of information are linked but will not show the actual relationship between the two pieces of information. The traditional hierarchy tree and the InfoMap hierarchy tree best illustrate this. The relationship between two pieces of information must be two way. Unfortunately, Hypertext as implemented on the World Wide Web only supports one-way relationships. A WWW hypertext document can link itself to other documents but does not know what other documents are linked to it. With the printed page it is even more difficult as all the relationships are backwards. An information management system that documents and manages relationships must also be able to display information trees with any information as the root information. If the relationship is hierarchical, it must be able to display inverted information tree. The bottom line, Payne proposes, is that information must be managed so that we can find and learn new information expeditiously.

Once the library is created for education it can serve those who are conducting research on all human crises.


In (3.1.1) we introduced `Amos' who lives in a developing world urban slum where there is misery, poverty crime and schools were of little help. In (2.18.2) after describing the desperate situation of one African neighborhood, we described existing `tele-centers’ that can now, with assistance, transform poorly-functioning schools into neighborhood learning centers and MIT-type Computer Clubs" where technology is used to create..

Esfandiary (1973) pointed out that existing school systems, as is still true almost everywhere, are "oriented to a slower, more structured world' in which by the time most learners "have graduated much of what they learned is outdated." Schools, he said, are holding youngsters back. Schools should not be `improved' and `reformed' but transformed into something entirely new. He proposed that all school buildings be converted into `people centers' that are "open day and night, where people of all ages and backgrounds" can meet, talk and learn. Their technology  would extend their talk and learning to people around the world, from other backgrounds and cultures.  Through telecommunications the world becomes the school, so that event he small child--learning geography can travel the world and see for herself and meet and grow up with children in other cultures

Amos needs a local 24–hour-a day learning center which has `enlarged” his school to serve everyone in the neighborhood.where he ask any question; for example where can he find a job, for example, or how can he create one where he is? He can find vocational counseling, how  to apply for a tuition voucher, a new form of foreign aid. The neighborhood-learning partnership center is no automated impersonal place. It is like a public library and Computer Club that swarms with people seven days a week at all hours, and it is a cooperative public space—or commons—where people help each other through learning cooperative. However, there is continual online help for coping with any problem; online peace corps type technicians, for example. (On the importance of the `commons' see Lessig. (2001) It is important that recommended materials online be peer reviewed, and some of that process can be automated.


Future learning must serve all local and global need. Aldrich (2003), writing about the future of learning, said that "if the current vision of e-learning worked today, everyone who was willing to pay for it would have access through the web..." But we must enlarge the vision to include those who do not have the funds to pay for `just in time learning,' for mentors and coaches and the best possible course content in accessible form and language. Educause, January 2005 reported that an Online Repository of Online Courses was being created--with foundation funds-- at the Monterrey Institute in California. Electronic courses are expensive to  create so thee must be collaboration and cooperation among educational institutions. A professional organization that helps prepare free online courses for developing countries is: <http://www.peoi.org/>, That webpage leads to other helpful information. More promising (Molina 2006) is "open source learning" and the universities that are cooperating to put all their courses on line, free to the world.

The two billion in the world who earn two dollars a day or less cannot afford developing-world tuition costs, so if they are to be educated well enough to lift the economic level of all human society much education must be provided to them free of charge. When Massachusetts Institute of Technology began to put all of its courses online,(<http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html>. free to anyone in the world, it was pointed out that this did not mean that anyone could use them to get a MIT-quality education, for that would require being on campus where, for example, students could work together in creating new products and other projects. MIT <http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Global/AboutOCW/presidentspage.htm> hopes other institutions will join in to create "a global web of knowledge" that will improve the quality of global learning.

Most lecture courses, in fact, have tended to report on the past, what has already been accomplished, rarely beginning with how to create a different future in any discipline. Perhaps future MIT distant-education students from many continents—will work together in the same lab via holographic telecommunications or some as yet nonexistent technology--but that notion will be of little help soon to neighborhood learning centers in places like rural Afghanistan in upgrading the skills of local `amateur technicians’ who repair the pumps, bicycles, transistor radios or the (soon solar?) heating systems in houses and public buildings, etc.(2.17)

The more advanced online courses—for example, to learn about the latest developments in engineering and science research—will not be free because production costs must come from somewhere; so many developing country learners will have to apply for financial aid to enroll. But, as here suggested earlier, every developed-world college and university could, as its contribution to the world’s deprived, prepare one basic course that could be provided online--free or charge--to every neighborhood learning center. When on line it could easily be updated from time to time. Even many high schools could also do so, as at Dalton School in New York where several generations of high school seniors worked together to created a history course to be available to others on CD-ROM. (And secondary age learners could greatly enjoy studying history as they adapt newsreel film, TV news archives and graphics to their project in course creation. This suggests an interim yet viable option for providing free courses to the developing-world; an alterative to spending the millions of dollars is often costs to create a new online course package, and much more expensive when adapted to many different cultures .

Dertouzos (2000) also proposed that advanced learners, course creators and instructors will be able to have the latest software and information immediately. A learner will be able to rent software and regularly updated electronic textbooks instead of having to buy a new edition Also for language study Dertouzos described the `"Literary Tutor’ that could will enable any learner, while reading aloud, to correct his or her pronunciation of a foreign language, much as a spell checker corrects one’s spelling. And that, he said, is but a forerunner of tutors to handle matters of routine or drill in all manner of subjects. Electronic tutors can in time--linked to one’s personal profile and electronic memory--adapt to personal needs and deficiencies. (Perhaps like the electronic pipe organ that plays the correct note when the organist hits the wrong key and fills in missing notes the amateur organist failed to hit at all.

Since existing human/computer interfaces deal more with the machine than with the person, little adequate thought has yet been given to what courses learners most need in order to augment their skills; including learning how to think in each new situation. In time, a unique tailored course can be created for each individual learner.


We discussed in volume one a global online catalog (and in 1.7.4) that could link and cross-index all existing course directories and catalogs. How could a learner in a poverty African neighborhood, navigate and make use of such a complicated kludge of information? More powerful and faster computer systems, available in the next couple of decades, should be able to simplify the searching process and make it more useful by also providing much more information about a particular online course or material, especially how he might be helped to develop a learning program tailored to his individual needs. A hyper web of links could lead Amos to more detailed information about a particular course provided by the course creators, and also criticisms and helpful information from learners who had already taken the course (much as tourist agents can provide online letters from people who have stayed in particular hotels.)

This catalog information can be graphic and much more interesting , with films, FAQ interviews and much more. Increasingly (Katz 2002) students will expect to find all course materials on the Web” and they will “become adept at identifying useful online course supplements that can help them learn (through simulation, virtual reality and other technologies) in ways that reflect their personal learning styles.”  It must also be detailed in providing for children, adolescents, continuing education, senior citizen and hobby education.

Perhaps recommended curriculum as well as catalogs will be organized by skill-learning areas; for example: creative thinking skill, communication skill (including art and music), governance and political skills including negotiation and conflict resolution,  research and  information-finding skill, creative skill in science and engineering, family creating and nurturing skill, body and health care skill (nutrition, etc.), values and ethical skill and so forth.

Perhaps a beginning is seen in current catalog projects such as the 2005 California Virtual Campus catalog at
 http://www.cvc.edu/. It has listed over 5200 courses rom 138 schools, including 226 programs in public and  private institutions. It is very searchable, by keyword, program, or specific school. On international accreditation see: <<http://www.online-education.net/resources/accreditation-transfer-credits-and-employers.html>

  3.8.7   LANGUAGE TRANSLATION and cultural translation

As automatic, mechanical translation matures, a five year old child—as well as a scientist—will be able to send a message to Japan in English and have it received in Japanese; then either one can read the Japanese reply in her own language. Also for foreign language study, Dertouzos (2000) reports on a literary tutor that, as a learner reads aloud, corrects pronunciation as a spell checker corrects spelling. There are many other unexamined possibilities when the keyboard gives way to computer operation by voice instructions.  Huang (2004) reported great progress at IBM on `universal translation' that that does more than word by word translation. It "gleans meaning from phrases and conveys it to any other language. throutgh use of ` semantic analysis. 'Weaver (2005) reports on success that researchers in South Africa are having with so many languages and dialects through the creation of `pronunciation dictionaries' and technology to enable speakers to communicate with others who use different languages. In 2005  Language Weaver Company's software was able to translate 5000 words a minute accurately and with network of servers up to 600,000 words a  minute.

In time this capacity will be available in thousands of local dialects and languages; but who will do all that work and pay for it? Even two decades ago a Japanese volunteer, with wireless connections to translators in Tokyo, was in a mountaintop area of the Philippines, helping local people use solar-powered computers to create a dictionary for a language that had never been written down. Meanwhile Patterson (2005) reported that the Human Language Technology project in South Africa is developing a speech synthesis system, with open source software to give access to knowledge to the many varied languages and dialects in the region.  When automated tutoring and language translation technology matures, peace-corps-type volunteers will be able to complete the task of creating dictionaries in every dialect in which one can click on any word and get a translation to or from major international languages. Also such volunteers can help local learners use language translation technology to bring basic e-textbooks and free online courses into the local language now that the letters and symbols of all existing languages are being compared and coordinated .

Note also that essential language translation also can help `outsiders’ understand jargon and the specialized languages of disciplines; for example, the language of computer engineers who seem to write manuals for themselves, not for people far away who know none of their specialized terminology. Math and music are also languages that require some explanation, if not translation for a different culture or age group.  This would include all kinds of language, such as math, art, computer languages (and on multimedia literacy see Marriott 2003) At the heart of the USA Federal Virtual Translation Center (Erard 2004) "tools are used that can digitize, parse, scan, recognize more languages. software that can translate whole  and that can automatically  access a vast variety of reference books and optical character recognition software.

Actually, a major transformation in learning will be the replacement of `language  instruction' with communication skills. Children learn a foreign language much easier in pre-school years. Children from the beginning of their learning will be helped to communicate in many ways, by speech, writing and reading, of course; but also by learning many ways to communicate; for example through dance, music, math and computer languages, art, gestures like sign language and graphic film creation. And, ironically, those little children who have found it slow and hard to learn to read will communicate with excellence in many different ways; as suggested by the importance of cultural as well as linguistic translation.


The European Union has in 2005 offered testing in eight languages, but much more prepared tests will be coming on line. For example see: <http://library.cern.ch/information_sources/database_list.html>. The best education, widely used by the wealthy, is that provided by a highly skilled personal tutor, or a series of expert tutors, one in history, one in math, one in each science, and so forth. Even `peer tutors’ can make an outstanding difference in the lives of youngsters, and learners of any age, who need special help. For instance, Cahn (2002) has described astonishing results when older pupils-–even many who were failing in school themselves—went to work helping first graders learn. “These tutors were throwaway kids (who) suddenly became educators, teachers” and who in the process transformed themselves also. The story of these failing inner-city youngsters, who surprised themselves by bringing discipline and effective learning into a failing public school, have a lesson to teach about making automated online tutoring work at a far distance as well. on physics <http://www.pitt.edu/~vanlehn/distrib/PERI.pdf

Yoshii (2000) predicted that `interactive `automated tutors’ will in this century “accompany learners wherever they are.” The next chapter, (3.9) will review some possibilities for automated intelligent tutoring, as a means of instruction at a distance or at home, that Professor Bork has been experimenting with and is proposing…for all learners. (Also see: <http://www.ics.uci.edu/~bork>. Many learners have difficulty in organizing memory, notes and a great store of information. Software will be developed to do a much better job of indexing automatically. In time learners will be able to ask a question, submit a name or subject and immediately be taken to the information desired; for example, Dertouzos 2000 reports on ‘Hyper Summary; in time, he says, as `organizing and finding ‘tools so that audio, video and images can be easily searched for and found. This can be done by clicking on a word, subject, of photo illustration in an e-text. See: <http://lorien.ncl.ac.uk/ming/Resources/cal/its.htm> and  fhe US Navy has an automated tutoring system: <http://www.autotutor.org/what/what.htm>.  

Thompson (2002) warned that--as machines get smart and faster--automated systems may take over and interfere in ways we do not want. Each technological advance involves problems that must be solved.  In addition to information about online tutoring here in 3.9, see <http://www.sargentwelch.com>. for tutoring in math and science. Nevertheless global-scale reseach in all areas is worth trying.


Aldrich (2003) raises the question: why grades? Does scoring help the learning process, he has asked, or hurt it? Why are students graded and not the teachers and counselors? Should grades be diagnostic? And, more important perhaps, how do you grade members of a team? Should the goal be content and skills mastery or `passing a test?'  Many students are learning a great deal through computer games where a player earns points through achievement. Some of the best research on testing is reported by Howell (2007) in "Teaching in One Way and Testing in Another."

Educators and not just computer scientists alone need to plan new tools for learners, tools as sophisticated as those developed for medical centers for diagnosis. Also there is experimentation with using the sort of technology used in computer games to test the student, as he or she are involved—as in playing a game—in using the computer to take a test or work on a project. Perhaps this can mean continual testing as one works, rather than stopping learning to take formal tests. Learners need not be conscious of taking tests as they work or study. More sophisticated testing can also be adapted to the each unique learner's goals, needs, talents and opportunities. See
: <http://wwwbruegge.in.tum.de/projects/intusys/intusys_eng.html

Also, using the same technologies, testing at the end of a course might often involve demonstrations of skills rather than just of memorized knowledge; especially when the learner need to qualify for an advanced course or for certification for a job. `Angel’ software, for the Pennsylvania State University’s `World Campus,’ in 2002 included “a testing tool to evaluate student learning.” (Arnone 2002).As technology advances individual learners can have access to much more information about themselves, their needs, and how to use existing resources to meet those needs  Note experimental testing DIALANG in Europe;  <http://www.cpe.fr/ceetok/european_languages_test.htm>.


A web portal is defined, according to the UNESCO Bangkok Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, as a one-stop knowledge shop of extensive information resources produced from all sources all over the world that can easily be accessed anywhere in the world. Learners on campus anywhere cano `get what they need when they need it;’ for example where to find the tools that can help them learn more efficiently, wherever they are. They need, for example, course management systems and content delivery tools. Strauss (2002) proposed that “biometric authentication’ technology will greatly facilitate campus systems deal with the “nuisance of remembering and managing zillions of IDs and passwords” and making them secure. Hawkins (2005) naming Portals as one of five most important new technologies because can provide "a flexible, customizable and personalized  access point to view information based on interests and roles of the individual" and extending collaboration. Unsworth (2004) reported on `uPortal,' a developing project of some major universities together with for-profit companies to integrate many functions of higher education institution.. 

The increasing use of Web portals on major campuses suggests the possibility of a global-scale portal to help all learners everywhere and all researchers on all topics. Olsen (2002) described how a learner, teacher or reseacher can find all available information needed at one location, indexed and easily accessible. At one campus such a system replaced 150,000 pages of information on 17 web servers. Students can receive individualized information, instant-messaging service, reminders, registration information, and information on their own status and needed courses to graduate. Molina (2006) foresees portals evolving into `learning portals,' a "community based Web location that provides a self-managed, and personalized and  customized information environment" that can serve the needs of a specific individual or community.

Portals can include learner advising services online and have “helped …improve the quality of student life.” When students register the ‘cybrarian’ passes the information on to the campus bookstore and “triggers a process that creates a book-filled automatic electronic shopping cart. That the student can pay for such materials online is needed by distant students..” The University of Washington, Seattle, was preparing to use its portal to keep in touch with graduates for years after they leave the campus. “The plan is to create a personal profile for each user of the of the university’s portal site,” allowing each to find information about events or research relevant to individual interests or needs. On portals and personalization of education: <http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=85>>

Portal software, Olsen has said, “relies on complex, highly specialized software” that can deal with many users at the same time and find and display for each user the information needed from vast data bases of information. One of the problems with creating a global portal would be what to include in it, what is essential for learners, education counselors and researchers. Perhaps the content would –as in a global online library—consist of connections to and indexing of many portals.

Can a global portal be created for a lifelong planetary education system? Some clues to the possibility may exist in beginning efforts by portal creating companies, and perhaps by `uportal,’ “a collection of free, open-source-software components created by a group of several hundred universities that calls itself the `Java in Administration Special Interest Group’ or JA-SIG. (Olsen 2002) Perhaps in time such a process, an information-based organization presumes a portal “that recognizes individual users and tailors accessible information and services to the needs, interests and authorities of these individual users.”

In April 2006 it was reported from Canada  that the IESI e-Learning Technology Campus--along with its technology partner in Japan,, NTT ITT Corporation, had developed an innovative and an evolutionary e-learning gateway portal system with Inter-operability, usability, customizability, connectivity, practicability, and rich intellectual features thaat could handle an educational institution f any size as well as an meet the needs of  any individual student or teacher. It can be used via the Internet and/or via the  Institution's LAN as a complete integrated  package or  as a separate utility package as needed. The portal system can be used either by installing its server (Windows/Linux platforms)
or can be leased worldwide from from special ASP providers..


 One nagging question for poverty workers is: "why do we not talk about the issues?" For example, politics and political interference, accountability issues and graft. Accountability issues, they say, are ultimately about power. Here research is needed. "When civil society is weak and badly organized those who control  the state are better able to get their way and escape scrutiny. How can governments in developing countries learn that becoming better "communicators does not mean becoming skilled  propagandists, that communication must be a two-way process. It is about dialogue; it is about listening as well as talking. "There are many international science co-labs, and their experience may suggest a way for those who create courses and do large-scale research in any field to work together via telecommunications and resolve cultural variety and other differences that can become resources rather than obstacles. 

Chapter six of volume one discussed online co-labs at some length and we note here that learners of any age could in time observe what is going on in many–not secret--research co-laboratories and do large-scale research while in no way interfering with the ongoing experimentation and research; much as school children have from a distance observed and asked questions of scientists exploring the bottom of the ocean. There was a time when medical students had to observe surgery instruction from a distance, where now with a TV camera close to an operation, it can be more closely observed by a learner thousands of miles away.

The `Allen Teleport version 2.0’ has served as a learning laboratory and media center for architecture students and faculty at the University of Houston. The `teleport’—a type of ultra-high-tech media room—allows “students and faculty …to share ideas with colleagues …around the world.” (Michele 2001) Beyond many current developments much more is to be expected.

Scientists and learners need high concentration and memory power to retain, evaluate and report all the information needed for a final report or to demonstrate mastery of a skill, including learning skills. Emerging new technologies like `InfoMap’ will allow many small bits of information to be documented and can establish links for instant recall. Perhaps large-scale research in the humanities and social sciences could become as significant, and useful for learners in problem solving if `virtual research centers" were designed and created on the Internet to bring together terabytes of cross-indexed data and a more comprehensive research environment. It would need vast storage and data management capacity, a system for massive search, for accessing and visualizing alternative models in the context of a comprehensive research environment for the social sciences, and one for research in the humanities? And ultimately to bring together and cross-index all findings from all sciences?

Since teamwork is always going to be crucial in dealing holistically with interrelated problems, every learner needs skills in teamwork and tools to facilitate it. One researcher reports that locally and internationally there are at least a hundred conferences she would like to attend each year, but she has the time and funds for only two. She does not want to wait for the publication of reports and speeches. She wants to talk to people, select what she wants to attend and be able to get better online reports of meetings she cannot attend. Sometime she would like to use the Internet to attend two meetings that happen to be at the same time.


Can there be a global version of the VLE (virtual learning environment) developed at the University of Helsinki, Finland? “It allows students and instructors to share their thoughts in a central data base, letting them build on each other’s knowledge and structure dialogues.” (CITIS, Feb. 19, 2002.) Students and tutors can meet on shared Web page with access to all kinds of help. Increasingly students (such as Tufts with African students) in one country are studying with students in other countries(Carlson 2002) . Now software and technology exists so that they can do that via cell pone.

Technology to enable `learning communities' make use of Instant Messaging. Blogging and blogs  enable sharing conversaton at greater depth. In `Active Worlds <http://www.activeworlds.com/tour.asp>, for example, a learner can meet others all over the world, engaging in chat and serious discussion.. These `virtual worlds’ can include all kinds of campuses where one can meet an instructor in her office, go to a library or classroom, visit a laboratory. (A preliminary example: <www.tappedin.org> ) And these are but primitive beginnings of what can be done in coming decades. 


Dertouzos (2000) argued that “we have complicated things enough.” We need international standards and systems that are compatible – like tires that can be used on cars in different countries. Mark Taylor (2002), addressing the wide debate on the future of online education, “found a lack of a coherent educational philosophy” and carefully crafted strategy. He found that most “educators had little understanding of the of relevant social and economic changes occurring place in the economy and the radical implications of new technologies for teaching and research.”

The issue of standards raises many questions; for example, can internationally recognized diplomas and degree programs that used varied courses from many countries? This raises administrative questions raised in 1.4. Arnone (2002) reports that evolving standards may change the way colleges plan online-learning. “For the first time, evolving technical standards for software are making it possible for colleges to customize distance-learning program by easily mixing online-learning software from different companies.” Many colleges around the world, he reported were in 2002 participating in the creation of new standards. They are “works in progress” that “amy take years to develop” but they will enlarge and change the use of many educational tools.

At the turn of the century too much new software, courseware and other tools for education were created and marketed without adequate advance testing to see how they can fit into a totally new and more sophisticated education system. Shouldn’t education specialists, as members of teams from many disciplines such as computer science, develop prototypes and test them as carefully as the National Institutes of Health test new medicines? Dertouzos 2000 in discussing the importance of prototypes describes the long process that has been involved in the creation and testing of computers and software. "Designers face additional complications that pop up in the course of the software development process, as decision are made to avoid difficulties or to pursue opportunities, none of which were unforeseen at the beginning." They must deal with unplanned consequences."

Lengthy testing of prototypes, not just in labs but also in classrooms and by learners in real situations, before a product is mass-produced and offered for sale. Federal law requires this of health products that affect the body. (And education products cannot be tested on animals first.) Isn’t the mind as important as the body, perhaps more so in the unfolding information age? As education prototypes are used experimentally, under scientific guidelines, users will find problems, bugs, needed changes, new possibilities to be explored. In medical trials the whole body must be considered, and the fact that human beings differ widely. What are the side effects of a new math or physical education program, not properly examined in the context of the whole person and the total learning system? Dertouzos told how he was laughed at and scorned by technology colleagues--who "after years of catering to difficult and complicated problems concerning file systems, security, communications protocols. . .and other technical aspects of computers--had no interest in now taking human beings more into account

Dertouzos advocated `gentle-slope systems’ which would "give instant gratification with every little advance in learning that a user made. And each additional small step would allow a user to achieve even more by expending little added effort."

On the other hand, as computers become more and more complex--if developers continued on the present path--educators would have more and more difficultly which the machines sold in stores. What is needed, as a part of a new educational philosophy and new technology goals, are computerized tools customized especially for learners and teachers, and adaptable to each individual subject and learner. For all the talk about programs and machines being made `computer friendly’ and easier to use, few programs are adequately designed to justify their mass-production for a global education community. Needed, for example, are different tools for art, for math, for biology, created for example in partnership with real learners who are not computer geniuses.

To illustrate what Dertouzos (2000) meant by adequate prototypes, he illustrated with a five-year experiment-- which began at MIT in 1999-- called `Oxygen,’ and some projects with similar objectives at other research centers. The brainstorming sessions that conceived of Oxygen sought to make a real difference in people’s lives; a world (we would here say a world of learning) "where technology would be as abundant . . .as the air we breathe’ wherein the computer vanished into human centered tools. What he says about developing such tools is true for the future or education also: "Great ideas, enthusiasm, hard work, and money are essential for the evolution of a grand new project. And such an experiment must expect to fail as often as it succeeds, and to learn from each failure how to proceed again with confidence that products worth mass-producing will in time be developed. Major corporations that are helping provide fifty million dollars share in that confidence.

3.8.14   PEER REVIEW

At first it seems that peer review by professionals is essential to guarantee the validity and excellence of every bit of recommended global online educational material—course or course module, e-book, article, online research report, and so forth—will continue to be centered in residential universities, and guided by professional and disciplinary and subject-matter associations. Then, however, as the global lifelong education system develops and matures, another `peer review’ factor will most likely become a major player; the regular feedback from learners and teachers at all levels, a process that increasingly could be built into electronic materials of all sorts. For instance, anyone using materials could insert a question mark that would lead to a suggestion, a need for clarification or more explanation, a possible error to be corrected, a new source that might be recommended.

However as learners--even in secondary school--become partners in the creation of learning, more and more peer review and grading by fellow learners may become important. Herz (2001) points out that computer gaming opens new possibilities for learners, as learning experience in a collaborative highly social context." In terms of speed and the volume of learning--as information is assimilated into knowledge and knowledge "is assimilated into new forms"..."the networked ecosystem of online gaming is vastly more multidimensional than the 19th century paradigm of classroom instruction." In gaming  individuals are evaluated by their fellow players rather than by a teacher or standardized test. "Te better a player becomes he or she "scales a well-constructed learning curve over several months," how they rate speed, intelligence and much more. Herz proposes that, in "a deeply networked learning environment." mechanisms of evaluation can shift to this model, in which as learners "apprehend the modes of thinking inherent in the physical and social sciences. history, the arts,  philosophy" and more. Instead of testing whether requirements are met or not," courses, projects and extracurricular activities are seen as experiences that continually strengthen the learner and that "allow a student  to incrementally progress along a number of axes." For example, their growth can be seen in how they progress in a foreign language, in directing a play, in leadership and communication skills. (more in 3.7)


Suppose, Dertouzos has suggested, your computerized learning system had enough power to outrace your senses of sight and hearing, enough capacity to store for later retrieval thousands of page equivalents of reference materials, poems, letters, records, drawings, animations, musical scores, waveforms, dynamic simulations and anything else you might like to remember and change. The web could then become “a kind of `external brain’, storing a huge amount of knowledge while being able to learn and to make smart inferences,’ thus allowing a learner to solve problems for which one’s own brain alone is too limited.

Suppose you could have the ` Fantasy Amplifier - imagination stimulator’ that Alan Kay was in 2001 working on at Disney. (Rheingold 2000) reported that it has been Kay’s dream to make it possible to equip learners --scientists or kindergarten children-- with an enhanced imagination to use in exploring “the world of knowledge on their own, using a `dynamic medium of human thought;. and in a system that would liberate learners and teachers from busy work and routines so that they could become truly creative in developing great ideas and projects? Fortune magazine, March 6, 2000, predicted `talking holograms’ and life-sized holographic images of coworkers,’ (perhaps to replace the elsewhere discussed avatars?

To accomplish such visionary objectives, the Oxygen prototype at MIT included plans for four instruments, `key delivery vehicles. The Handy21 "is a powerful portable device of the same size as a portable phone." Battery powered it will have a small screen, a microphone and speaker, antenna for communicating with wireless networks. Rather than containing much software it will flow into the device from the Internet as well as connecting to the Web and can adjust to changing situations anywhere in the world. (This information can be found in Davis (2002).

MIT’s Enviro21 will be stationary in walls with `tentacles’ to interact with the Handy21. The N21Network of protocols and conventions will make it possible for the Handy21 to link to all kinds of networks, appliances such as printers, and databases. Educators will also anticipate the time when "all the written knowledge in the world will be one of the items to be found in every school child’s pocket." (Rheingold 2000) Fourth then, without a keyboard, the Handy21 must be speech operated. Oxygen will "handle automation similarly to the way it handles speech. (See D2000 for details.)

Oxygen was intended to create `concept maps’ for the user, convenient ways to navigate and organize through links to data bases important to the user, with Haystack, observers and abstractors. It will create a personal index and will include a `query system’ to use ordinary speech in asking for information. At the heart of the Oxygen system "will be a collaboration editor to facilitate work with others across space and time and which will also "keep track of routine things like document versions" and files. Customization to the individual user is embedded into every part of the system with "software that ties everything together." The plan is for the system to be free to everyone everywhere. This should be very suggestive for such specialized systems for learning and teaching.

And what is most fascinating to Davis (2000) is the way these and other such smart instruments are going to join together—“enormous supercomputers and tiny `microelectnromechanical’ systems—each about a cubic millimeter in size.” So small that they will almost be invisible; `smart dust.” If such a speck of dust is placed on every product that is created, it “would have a recoverable history,” its own place in a cybernetic realm. Such machines would `talk to each other’ and cooperate, freeing human beings from the tedium of everyday tasks and hopefully enlarging their creativity, imagination and capacities. What will happen in education and research when everyone is interconnected ,when such tools break down “:the cultural, social, linguistic” barriers? “This all has the potential for a great emergence of an ability to understand” what human beings have never been able to understand before “because we can bring together so many different perspectives..”

The hope is,” Davis said, “that the malleable software of the future will allow each of us to shape a unique presence inside the vastness…” Davis quoted Adrian Stoica, a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Advanced Computing Technologies Group who anticipates an “evolving symbiotic omninet” that he called ‘the Global Interaction Medium.’ Its “hardware-software symbosis”…interconnected into processing systems could act as a global brain.” Then in time each human being might become the “neurons in of one or several global brains. (1.1.13, 1.3.2, 2.2 3.) Thus educators, planning for the future, might envisage a Net with power beyond what we can yet imagine. Its evolving might then be studied as present scientist study biology and space, researchers standing in awe

Following up on chapter five in volume three, what can global-scale planners expect by way of brain and mind Prostheses? We have eye, hip, knee and heart implants. We have hearing aids and eyeglasses, telescopes and microscopes. So next, why not help for the feeble minded, for those whose brains have been impaired by accidents, or fetal alcohol syndrome and those with limitations such as Alzheimer's. Fox (2001) reports on experimentation at senior citizen rest homes. "Living spaces" have automated technologies for monitoring vital signs; for example the Japanese toilet which tests urine and stool samples at every use. It has a computerized system for remembering names--a problem with most elderly people--in which a picture of someone entering the space pops up with a photo and the name of that person and other information. (Similar tools could be very helpful to learners, see below.) Other tools are being developed to help elderly people live `unscripted' and less dependent lives, "active, productive and technology-assisted lives. . (What about tools to help people lead more effective `learning lives.') Researchers at MIT, Georgia and Rochester "are at work on a cell phone that they hope will keep the brains of Alzheimer's patients from hanging up." (Could there be devices to keep students from `hanging up' during classroom lectures?) Rather than just monitoring brain functions, what about using a person's own waning or inadequate intelligence, as it diminishes or needs replenishing, to connect it to communal intelligence.

While some are skeptical about the possibility of really intelligent machines, learners can have better searching tools; and electronic personal assistants to automate many tasks.  Duderstadt (2001) said: " We have moved beyond the simple text interactions of electronic mail and electronic conferencing to graphical-user interfaces (e.g., the Mac or Windows world) to voice to video. With the rapid development of sensors and robotic actuators, touch and action at a distance will soon be available."

In 2006 there was much debate about the $100 computer for  developing world learning, but what can be the future of of a much cheaper than that iPod? <http://www.wesleyan.edu/argus/archives/nov042003/dateyear/w1.html>.  Different kinds of research can develop `a learner’s electronic personal assistant’ which can be re-programmed to help with whatever the learner is working on at the time. It might, for example, spend the night--while one sleeps-- searching through a billion web pages and databases for needed information. Such personal intelligent agents, `knowbots’ or avatars will roam about doing impressive tasks for a learner or researcher. We already have search engines which help us cope with a billion and a half pages on the World Wide Web, but such an electronic personal assistant could free learners from much routine drudgery so they would have much more time for creative work and research. E need avatars that are linked to our ‘electronic personal memories and work plans’ so that they can be as useful as the employed person, not to free us from work but to make possible more significant work. Perhaps avatars will be able to send questions via e-mail and get back automated replies, as least answers to ` frequently asked questions.’

Since instruments will continue to evolve, who knows what will grow beyond the 2006 use of i-pods and podcasting, for example free audio and video textbooks and wireless for access anywhere, anytime. (Molina 2006).


Human society and educators need at least three kinds of talent searches; 1) to find the talents and gifts of every unique individual; (2) second to find those who are especially gifted in math, or science, or art or sports (well, we already so some of that) and writing and so forth. Admiral Zumwalt found youngsters with great talents that had never been discovered, and perhaps with new tools we will confirm that everyone has—largely undiscovered talents, just as all are learners. How many undiscovered geniuses are there among illiterates in the developing world? And (3) there are talent-creating communities of practice that provide creative experiences and skills. We would add to that an effort to find what really engages a learner, where he or she is not bored but hopefully even excited about learning, that hopefully has a creative component.

Some communities have found astonishing artistic talent has been found in youngsters with I. Q as low as thirty. In the former Soviet Russia a talent search was every year conducted in every primary school, experts going even to isolated rural communities in Siberia and recruited youngsters for the circus school, the ballet, special science schools and so forth. That could be done in every school by sending videos of children performing; but more important, much more can be done to find and develop unique talents in every school as they connected to art and music schools, science academies, ballet schools or whatever.

Doug Engelbart (Rheingold 2000) anticipated the supersensory human being equipped "with eyeglass cameras " that can see virtual images, radar, infrared and ultraviolet images." Such a learner can also have an "electronic nose that can detect all sorts of faint smells" such as odorless gasses that might be dangerous; and also ears "that can hear that can hear higher and lower pitched sounds’ and "tactile interfaces’ that can sense changes in barometric pressure. Rheingold (2003) enlarged and elaborated his discussion of how youth culture and learning has already jumped far ahead of existing schools and education programs.

Peter Coyote (2000) has pointed out that digital video equipment can already produce movies for a fraction of the cost of commercial film production, so the production of short films can become part of secondary and higher education learning. That, he says, can facilitate film-making a a cheap, renewable, problem-solving resource every learner. Even youngsters can thus be "studying music, sculpture, dance, acting, drawing, poetry and writing--not to create more artists, but to mature people in whom senses and skills operate at peak efficiency." Thus all can learn "to produce more beautiful products, architecture and cultural expression." He reported how `hardboiled" legislators discovered that art and artistic people "are an extraordinary reservoir of creative problem solvers for society" and for training in creative problem-solving techniques." Film and other art technologies have a largely as yet unexplored potential for education.

As Augustin (2002) has said, trying to imagine what the future may hold for education in these early years of the 21st century is daunting. Who, a hundred years ago, could imagine what the 20th century would bring? We need to remember that information technology is still in its infancy, but is rapidly moving into adolescence. How soon, for instance, will learning be changed by wearable information technology such as computerized eye glasses and `learningware' that enables young teenagers to tackle huge problems that could never before be resolved?

Also, all said and done, when we talk global we must always remember that effective education must be bottom-up and not imposed from the top-down. <http://www.comminit.com/africa/materials/ma2004/materials-1937.html>.

Return to Chapter 3.7 | Go to Chapter 3.9

Bibliographical Notes

Aldrich, Clark. 2003  Simulations and the Future of Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Arnone, M. “Mixing and Matching Distance-Education Software.” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 24.

Augustson, J.G. 2002. “Leading the IT Team.” Educause, March/April.

Ayres, E. L. and C. Grisham. 2003. "Why IT Has Not Paid Off as we Hoped (yet)." Educause, Nov./Dec.

Brown, John Seely. 2001. "Learning in the Digital Age." 

Campbell, Gardner. 2006. "Information Technology and the Augmentation of the Intellect." Change, Oct

Coyote, Peter. 2000.  in M. Williamson. Imagine. New York: St. Martins/Rodale

Davis, Jeffrey. 2000. ‘Vinton Cerf is Taking the Web Into Outer Space.” Wired, January.

Demb, Ada. 2002. “The Intellectual Supermarket.” Educause, July/August..

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Internet Society's Special Interest Group: http://www.ipnsig.org.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Planetary Society <http://www.planetary.org/

SpaceRef http://www.spaceref.com/

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The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View
For more information contact Parker Rossman
July 12, 2006 -- Copyright © 2002-2005 Parker Rossman