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Opportunity or Threat?

  • April 2, 2008
  • Gautam
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Robert Cringely, writing in last weeks column, states that:

“There is a technology war coming. Actually it is already here but most of us haven’t yet notice. It is a war not about technology but because of technology, a war over how we as a culture embrace technology. It is a war that threatens venerable institutions and, to a certain extent, threatens what many people think of as their very way of life. It is a war that will ultimately and inevitably change us all, no going back.”

He speaks of this particularly in the context of education basis what he has seen and how “… we’ve reached the point in our (disparate) cultural adaptation to computing and communication technology that the younger technical generations are so empowered they are impatient and ready to jettison institutions most of the rest of us tend to think of as essential, central, even immortal. They are ready to dump our schools.”

To be sure, this doesn’t really apply to the Indian context where we are still attempting to get every child in to a school and the pervasiveness of Internet access is abysmally low. But this is for now. However, what if one can use the Internet to unglue education from brick and mortar institutions and separate content from a physical medium? Will that help speed education? Will allowing members of a community to work on and with material for education improve the quality, in specific local contexts, through a quick iterative process? Will it enable local organizations and people to functions as proxies for distribution and learning?

He goes on to say that “Technology is beginning to assail the underlying concepts of our educational system…” and in my next post I’ll cover some ground on current efforts to provide open access to learning and initiatives that are harnessing the power of the community to create learning materials.

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Picture via dullhunk.

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