THE FUTURE OF HIGHER
(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)
Volume III – Preface
(Last updated June 22, 2008)
What kinds of more
comprehensive research and redesign might best guide the development of a global
'education for all in virtual space/cyberspace’ master
plan that might transcend and expand the vision of all the
political and education leaders of all nations? It is crucial that
educators--even the experts--admit their profound ignorance, their need for
larger-scale experimentation and research.
The first three chapters of this volume just begin to touch upon the
subject and need much more information. We live in a world of cultural
variety, a fact complicated by the emergence of a young `wired
generation' that is rebelling against passive listening to teachers and
lectures. Their experience with entertainment technology--such as
computer games--gives learners the capacity to do more things at once, to
shift rapidly from one context to another, to be more literate in images
and multi-media than in reading text. They respond to hands-on,
interactive, collaborative project-based learning.
Also learning research has concentrated too much on what happens in the classroom, often forgetting that we learn all the time, everywhere and we are not adequately prepared to reflect upon and profit from that. A 2005 news report on Leeward Community College in Hawaii's award winning course said it provides a model in online course design, interaction/collaboration, assessment/evaluation, meaningful technology use and learner support. "It uses video introductions, word puzzles, graphic organizers, interactive games, and discussion boards. Students can also contribute their own content such as comic strip graphics, streaming video productions, handouts, presentations and written work" A strong sense of community is established early in the course as students build relationships through e-mail, discussions, and various online activities. “Many people think that an online course is impersonal, the teacher reported, “but the exact opposite is true. My students are constantly interacting with each other and with me in a virtual environment.” Students strongly agreed that the online environment made the content more engaging than face-to-face interactions."
As a classroom, technology alone cannot facilitate essential learning. The Consortium of Village Based development had already <http://www.villageearth.org/ATLibrary> by the turn of the century created a library of over a thousand books on `village do-it-yourself technologies' which were available on CD-ROM and microfiche. Others were putting UN Food And Agricultural Organization documents on CD-ROMS that illiterate farmers could listen to--like music CDs--while plowing or doing other farm work. There are many such projects, mostly as yet not adequately linked or coordinated for neighborhood learning. But will books and text alone do it? The global citizen must be literate in new languages (art, media, video learning games and music for example) and not just text. In the 1860's the USA developed the `land-grant university' to bring science -- especially in agriculture since a majority of people were employed there--with tuition free learning geared to meeting local needs. Now those needs are global, so could we give serious thought to the idea of `cyberspace grant" global universities dedicated to local needs and lifelong continuing learning? Many universities are now putting their courses online, free to the world, but counselors and tutors are needed --online and on campuses-- to design a learning program for each unique individual, and to select and create courses in each discipline...and especially for inter-disciplinary research and learning.
This Volume III suggests many items for agenda planning and reveals great ignorance, especially realistic knowledge about how emerging new electronic technologies can help. It also raises many unanswered questions, such as: can politicians now shift major attention from hardware (satellites, cables, etc.) to the development of more creative and imaginative content in electronic form? And can `virtual space' where this kind of education occurs be a more human place? (What term shall we use: `cyberspace,’ the Internet, `virtual space,’ hyperspace?) Perhaps for education we should blend those terms together in something we might call `global learning-space’ (LS)?
The stakes are high. In this age of terrorism--an expression of massive ignorance and need-- humanity’s very survival may depend on its ability to educate as many as possible of the 7-10 billion people who will inhabit this planet within a half-century or so. The teachers and scientists trained in the universities are crucial. The hungry poor of the earth may drag humanity down to disaster unless there is appropriate, practical and functional education for all. Without better global learning, actively involving a much higher percentage of the world’s population, we may for example destroy our ecological system and with it ourselves.
On the other hand, humanity is on the edge of potentially tremendous new technological possibilities for providing more creative `education for all' and for solving fundamental global problems. Sri Lanka University Chancellor Arthur C. Clarke (deceased in 2008) said in the preface of Joseph Pelton's book, Future Talk, that it is probably true in communications technology that anything we can think of can probably be accomplished if it does not violate natural laws.
However, much of the turn of the century discussion about the future of global-scale learning centers on the so-called `digital divide’ and how to get information technology into the hands of the poor. A chairperson of the USA Federal Communications Commission (Andrews 1991) foresaw “a world in which people…use satellites and high speed fiber-optic communication lines to take college courses at home, have television sets which double as multimedia computer work stations, use communication networks to transmit the contents of an entire library in seconds and track down a person anywhere on the globe to deliver the data.” But, he said, many governments would need to overhaul their communications policies, for example, to provide deregulation and space on crowded airwaves for pocket-sized cell phones with two-way interactive television. Now we see that those technologies may be just interim steps into the future. Still, the political pressures and problems are enormous. A shift in power is opposed by corporations whose profits may be greatly reduced by the competition of new services that can provide great educational opportunities.
Of course an education “sending” system—even as satellite costs are greatly reduced—will not serve the needs of all of humanity, Andrews said, unless there is a major emphasis on developing the two-way “receiving” software for every school and home. As the X-O computer for the world's poorest children is updated, the coming combination of telephone, TV, computer, satellite-dish receiver, and digital radio, connected to the world satellite network, can make it possible for the developing countries to bypass all of the interim steps (as many have done in transportation with airplanes) and enter into a global education system at affordable cost. In the last century there already were a billion television sets in homes across the world, many of them battery-operated. When humanity is ready, the TV sets can be replaced by battery or solar-powered, two-way sender/receivers (combining TV and computer), thus shifting from passive to active mode, from entertainment to new possibilities for education. Different segments of what is needed already exist in one country or another. What is `sent` wirelessly, however,(such as online free digital textbooks for the poor) is a more crucial issue we must discuss.
It is essential to inter-connect all schools, libraries and/or whatever community center makes Internet connections available to every neighborhood and village in the world. The technology to do so is near at hand. For example, in May 2001 a preliminary step forward was the creation of the `simputer’ in India. At a low, affordable cost this `simputer' its creators proposed, could be placed in schools, kiosks or tele-centers in every neighborhood in the world. This instrument--as rugged as a transistor radio--could be used by non-literates with a touch-pen instead of a keyboard. It can speak in the language of the user. It can access the Internet and Web, download education, be used for research, for accessing government services, for banking. With solar power and satellite connections it can be placed where there is no electricity, no telephone, no proper roads, no television. And this, of course, and the X-O computer for the poorest children are just the beginning of two-way learning instruments that can be created by mid-century if the effort and planning begin now.
ADecember 2003 conference in Geneva, Switzerland—organized by the United Nations, UNESCO and the International Telecommunications Union—began the process of providing an Internet connection to every village, rural and neighborhood school in the world as reported on. (http://www.worldsummit2003.org/. http://wwwc.wsis-cs.org/) that is no longer available.
In Sri Lanka (UNESCO 2000) many small villages have been linked to a low power FM radio station that broadcasts information on health, nutrition, and so forth. Residents of those villages can send questions to the station, where students use three `browsing computers’ to search the web for answers to those questions. In a sense, the villages thus search the Internet `by proxy.’ These are but two illustrations of how available technology like battery-powered radios and CD players can be locally linked with the Internet, web, and sophisticated learning technologies. In Zimbabwe a donkey-drawn Internet Cart was going from village to village. offering radio, TV, telephone, Internet service--using solar power and a satellite dish (Zimbabwe Mirror, 16 July, 1998.) IN Ghana in 2006 a rural village had a solar-powered educational center.
Pelton (1990), on the basis of his INTELSAT experience, foresaw what he called the “global electronic machine,” the huge--and to most people almost invisible communications system--that is transforming all of human life and institutions. That system makes possible, if not almost inevitable, the development of a worldwide electronic education network for the 21st century. The technology exists. So the question, as in war and peace, economic justice, and world health, is: how can humanity--in a democratic and not authoritarian way--be motivated to develop a global research and master plan system to plan, develop and use it properly?
Without the latest techniques in electronic schooling that new hardware now makes possible, what hope is there for disenfranchised people even in America, much less the rest of the world? How are these electronic receivers, the software, and access to global library and multimedia systems to be afforded by the poor who most lack relevant and quality education?
One proposal for reorganizing American education has been to offer vouchers that allow students to go to any school they wish. The idea may be unjust if it enables only the privileged, highly motivated people to migrate to better schools, leaving the poor behind, but it could favor the poor and underprivileged if the vouchers are used to connect everyone electronically to the best possible learning opportunities. In North America, such electronic education vouchers might be part of all welfare and unemployment insurance plans, designed to provide job retraining, to update education, and where necessary to provide day care for small children. Such vouchers should perhaps be provided to all people under the poverty level, and, when possible, all over the world.
That kind of foreign aid—if offered by Japan, Europe, Australia, Singapore, North America, etc., and exchange of courses among developing countries—could help the world’s poor (2.17) to solve their own problems (giving away information and skills training electronically would not be as expensive as other kinds of foreign aid). Indeed, this might put aid into the hands of people who most need it, without the involvement of bureaucrats and politicians. Can we propose giving foreign aid credits to individuals, including authorization to borrow a `learning receiver' plus vouchers that provide credit for on-line time and courses (often on videodisc)? And can such vouchers be tied first of all to courses that provide essential job training, entrepreneurial skills, health care, and agricultural information, and fulfill other primary needs?
Also, the plans for an online technical peace corps--involving and interconnecting all the youth in the world--could provide the help that poor people need in their tele-centers or for computer connections in their schools. The most basic and fundamental education happens, or fails to take place, at home, within the family. Electronic learning instruments at home, connected to and empowered by aspects of the worldwide learning system, including databases, modules and courseware for automated tutoring can also re-educate many parents as they get involved (and are guided and tutored at home) in helping their children with homework and online instruction. Electronic interactive learning offers new possibilities for strengthening and educating the whole family. We mention this in the preface as a reminder that a redesign of global education must begin with the neighborhood and a seamless `cradle to grave’ system.
Volume Three here begins an exploration to report some new possibilities for learning and teaching.
There is not only a digital divide but also something more crucial--the need for digital fluency just described at the end of volume two, and also what might be called a `cultural content’ divide.' The needs, however are for much more than content, data, information. As in a classroom, technology alone cannot facilitate essential learning; especially in the rural developing world. However, the Consortium of Village Based Development had already by the turn of the century <http://www.villageearth.org/ATLibrary> created a library of over a thousand books on `village do-it-yourself’ technologies which were available on CD-ROM and microfiche. Others were putting UN Food And Agricultural Organization documents on CD-ROMS that illiterate farmers could listen to--like music CDs--while plowing or doing other farm work. There are many such projects, mostly as yet not yet adequately linked or coordinated or neighborhood learning.
Instead of devoting the largest share of global education funds to the communications system, a major share should henceforth go to continual teacher retraining, and to the development of imaginative new programs, learning methods, course software (including multimedia packages, films, and electronic textbooks which have built in flexibility and adaptability.) (3.7). So this Volume also discusses local and global “learning teams” and "learning communities," (better terms at this stage than teams of experts) to design educational modules that are adaptable from country to country and imaginative software that can provide `whatever' is really needed to improve the quality of instruction and learning in every neighborhood and village. That is, instead of seeking to adapt technology created for business or other purposes, educators, including those in the developing world, should now proceed to create better software, just for learning, the weakest link in present use of information technology in education.
There can be no adequate substitute for local teachers and counselors who can give personal attention to each learner and who can develop supportive group activities--drama, orchestra, sports and so forth-- but we must be cautious of the notion that only the teachers need the international electronic connections, that the teachers can continue to be the `experts on everything’ who pass the content of education on to students. One step towards higher quality, a contribution of international electronic access, involves teacher-learner collaboration and connecting both learners and teachers to the places where the best quality exists, sometimes another school or university, sometimes electronic materials online. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink,” is thus rephrased: “You can't make him drink but you can lead him to high-quality water that can make him thirsty.”
From kindergarten to university, instructors all find it hard to leave behind the often oppressive or primitive style of education in which passive and silent students face the lecturing teacher who stands or sits before the class. (Duderstadt 2000) Too often learners have been expected to have such an image of the teacher on the TV screen or inside the computer in contrast to teachers and students sitting side by side as partners in learning and research, facing the world of online information and tutoring to learn together. Knowledge increases so fast and becomes outdated so quickly that the instructor can no longer be the expert on everything. Information technology connects to the experts; the instructor then becomes colleague, friend, guide, coach, tutor, inspirer, and, alongside students, adventurer and fellow-seeker.
The emerging `global learning system' must help every learner discover the college, trade school or neighborhood school as providing as a window on the world and what there is to learn there. An electronic learning center for all ages and for the entire neighborhood or community can be a place for guidance, testing, tutoring, counseling, and acquiring the skills in using the electronic technology that one also uses to learn at home and at work. At the heart of this possibility, however, must be a new breed of education scientists: the master teachers in each area and level of learning, local, regional, global. (1.9)
What are to be the qualifications of `master teachers and teams,' the globally linked specialists who can guide all learning and education into new possibilities? In 1987 George Leonard revised and reissued his book Education and Ecstasy. It asked why students were bored with so much of their schooling. Shouldn’t they be thrilled, for example, with the exploration of the stars? Little children bring curiosity, imagination, and great excitement to learning and discovery. Too often their schools rob them of all that joy in learning at an early age, so often teaching them in ways that by adolescence the focus on how to cheat, to pass tests, or to escape into daydreaming or delinquency. So researchers should begin by refusing to accept this system so as to undertake research into new ways to enlarge and build upon the passion for learning in people of all ages as well as preparing them to meet their basic personal needs. Foreman (2004a) proposed to delight learners in the 21st century.
Leonard insisted that learners ought to be in a state of “ecstasy” as they explore the mystery and wonder that can come with scientific discovery about the universe and the human body and brain. He asked for joy and delight. Can planning for such ecstasy be on the agenda for future electronic learning unless it becomes a goal of researchers and teachers? Ted Nelson has been critical of those who do sloppy, half-creative work. He has said that he has no interest in improving the educational system as it is. He wants to set learners on fire with enthusiasm. This inventor of hypertext and hypermedia sought to “enhance and nurture our minds and capabilities,” taking us far beyond former levels of literacy to new levels of understanding and intelligence (Nelson 1987) So here, Volume Three looks into some new possibilities, especially including multi-media literacy..
Linda Harasim (1990) enquired into ways that online education could do more than improve the learner's access to information and knowledge building, suggesting that intelligence can be enlarged and empowered (3.5) to “make us better thinkers, learners and problem solvers.” Pelton (1990) has suggested that this should be a function of the global virtual university system as has Jerome Glenn (1989) who through the UN University Millennium Project continued to enlist experts worldwide in defining new opportunities and possibilities.
Peter and Trudy Johnson-Lenz (1989, Tovey 2008) have insisted that information age technology presented society with enormous risks as well as possibilities. It could become the new `global village green' where we meet to explore how to be better human beings and care for our culture, our planet and ourselves. Or it could become the new sex-and-violence entertainment network that drowns out authentic learning.” After a decade of creating groupware to help people work together on-line, they found that they no longer believed in such simple visions of connectivity. “Connecting people without clear purposes, processes, and norms to guide their interactions, results in scattered and sporadic activity.” Without planning for excellence, electronic communications are “usually unsatisfying and unfruitful.” What is missing in education is “support for different learning styles, self-directed learning, education for the whole person, and learning how to learn.” In the future of education, as in other human systems, what happens in these “on-line systems are the foundation for a social architecture of the future." But, they asked, “will it become a planetary nervous system (2.2.1) or an electronic jungle tower of Babel?” In order to address this question they began to explore new ways of incorporating “active listening, explicit group processes and activities, emotional safety, mutual encouragement and reminders of the sacred” into online activities. Computer conferencing and other forms of electronic learning can change the participant’s sense of space and time as people in different countries and time zones find new ways to meet and work together. This is already seen in the world of business and finance, for example, as the place where billions of dollars leap instantly from country to country, and in the world of global politics where equally invisible and incredible events take place before human eyes on television.
In this emerging world of learning/cyberspace we human beings are “like astronauts experiencing zero gravity for the first time—we still have many things to learn.” So Trudy and Peter invited participants to covenant together “to create a safe, supportive, and vital [on-line electronic] learning community.” Here in Volume Three we will explore many learning communities-that as they link together--can perhaps become that global learning community. They urge everyone to covenant to listen to each other with care and compassion, to speak the truth as well as they can, and to acknowledge everyone's personal wholeness and connection with the sacred, a point of view important for rural areas of the developing world. This suggests a quite different approach to global electronic learning, in contrast to those who seek powerful institutional forms to guide the emerging lifelong university.
They envisioned self-directed on-line learners as meeting around an imaginary hearth or campfire in `hyperspace.’ Each gathering circle would share “background information, a menu of personal self-discovery processes, and instructions,” for example, on how to live with questions a few days and then return to the circle to share what has been learned. Those who plan for the global electronic education system must not overlook the importance of providing support for individuals using electronic group processes, “using reflection, intuition, and other forms of inner knowing to discover what really matters” as well as well-thought-out institutional procedures.
Then educational technology could become more sensitive and usable when it is seen as part of a living organism—not as the cold, heartless product of hardware. What is needed is not merely a humanizing of technology. (See Dertouzos 2000) Systems can be made healthy or unhealthy in large measure by our own human interaction with them. Also, humanity needs more than the ability to control the proliferation and use of technology. Global education planners must seek ways to use it wisely and well to accomplish a new vision and new goals for everyone in the world. "The time has come to share scarce resources…every university can't expect to have an expert in every field. We have come to the end of an era in which colleges can be `bounded by a wall with a narrow gate’ that keeps out all but a few who can afford high costs’ where all students are kept `in one place at one time,’ sharing finite resources and faculty, a system where their education stops when they leave the campus". But will [lanners of a global education system plan for the new era or leave it to others to fumble educational opportunities as commercial Television has done?
Hopefully we are near the end of the assembly-line, mass produced transfer-of--information education of the factory age? Surely more assembly-line, automated, mass-produced lecturing is not the only or best way to provide needed learning for everyone on the planet,. So let's explore some new possibilities. It would be easy to decide that it is inevitable that there will always be a mass of people who, as the population of the planet doubles, cannot be provided a the high quality and empowering education. However, that will not be necessary.
Here Volume Three continues to look at possibilities for neighborhood-based quality education for all, focusing on the next generations of individual learners, teachers and education planners who are moving onto the global stage. It is probably true, as some psychologists propose, that the generation of students in colleges and universities during the first decade of the 21st century is very different from the college age experience of middle aged and older faculty now in American universities. It may also be true that even the younger faculty members are puzzled by those now in secondary school. So how much more true must that be for teachers of future generations to cope with the variety and complexity of a billion young people in so many different cultures and nations!
John Markoff (1991) suggested caution
about global computer networks, warning that the unexplored “virtual
wilderness…seems to harbor as many dangers as the rest of society”
(such as viruses, network vandals or terrorists, operating in distant corners of
the globe, who have made “Internet an unsafe neighborhood in recent
years.”. So while the informal computer networks (“the commons”
for all people) will continue to be useful for experimentation and
demonstrations, the worldwide electronic higher education system must
develop and use safe, professionally managed systems. At the same time Volume Three asks with
Ayres (1999) “why aren’t education researchers and planners simply
When we stand back to look at the larger picture “to see events
not anticipated” we are confronted with changes that will transform
life and learning as we know it. And “there is little time for us to wrench
ourselves from the stupor with which we humans have half-heard, or
shrugged off, or blanked out those warnings.” Why? We are confronted
with more information than we can handle, and much of it is of poor
quality. We are overstressed with destabilization and an obsession with technology that
has led us into over-specialization. “Just
as pollution is more effectively attacked at the source,” so also we
“must revisit how people learn (or don’t learn) from
from their first gasp of life to the last.” Because
when you strip away from the average college graduate knows about
technology and entertainment, what
remains “won’t get us through the 21st century.”
What humanity must therefore do is redesign learning to do much
more than deal with
subjects. “We need to know the sources of our information and of our
beliefs and do reality checks.” We must look beyond technology to see
the `big picture,’ to “discover the tools that lie ahead, the tools
that succeed technology.” This requires more than policy change, it
requires fundamental shifts “in education and perception.” Only
then, Ayres suggests, can we break loose from
our present “jaded and dazed condition.’ Volume III raises some questions and ideas that reveal the extent of
our ignorance as educators and planners for learning. See essays
Bryan Lamb (2004) wrote: "Change is happening. What remains
unknown is whether educators, institutions and developers will
join...the revolutionary forces or whether they'll stand their ground
and be overrun."
John Markoff (1991) suggested caution about global computer networks, warning that the unexplored “virtual wilderness…seems to harbor as many dangers as the rest of society” (such as viruses, network vandals or terrorists, operating in distant corners of the globe, who have made “Internet an unsafe neighborhood in recent years.”. So while the informal computer networks (“the commons” for all people) will continue to be useful for experimentation and demonstrations, the worldwide electronic higher education system must develop and use safe, professionally managed systems.
At the same time Volume Three asks with Ayres (1999) “why aren’t education researchers and planners simply astonished? When we stand back to look at the larger picture “to see events not anticipated” we are confronted with changes that will transform life and learning as we know it. And “there is little time for us to wrench ourselves from the stupor with which we humans have half-heard, or shrugged off, or blanked out those warnings.” Why? We are confronted with more information than we can handle, and much of it is of poor quality. We are overstressed with destabilization and an obsession with technology that has led us into over-specialization. “Just as pollution is more effectively attacked at the source,” so also we “must revisit how people learn (or don’t learn) from from their first gasp of life to the last.” Because when you strip away from the average college graduate knows about technology and entertainment, what remains “won’t get us through the 21st century.” What humanity must therefore do is redesign learning to do much more than deal with subjects. “We need to know the sources of our information and of our beliefs and do reality checks.” We must look beyond technology to see the `big picture,’ to “discover the tools that lie ahead, the tools that succeed technology.” This requires more than policy change, it requires fundamental shifts “in education and perception.” Only then, Ayres suggests, can we break loose from our present “jaded and dazed condition.’
Volume III raises some questions and ideas that reveal the extent of our ignorance as educators and planners for learning. See essays at <http://www.learndev.org>. Bryan Lamb (2004) wrote: "Change is happening. What remains unknown is whether educators, institutions and developers will join...the revolutionary forces or whether they'll stand their ground and be overrun."
The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View