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11.24.2008

Disrupting educational reforms

Classroom education is always under pressure to change. I doubt colleges and school systems will ever respond to those pressures. There are too many indicators of resistance to change, convictions about already being right and desperate clinging to time-honored institutional models. It's more likely the classrooms will become either "a special treat" like horse rides in a park or "an enduring glimpse at a previous era" like AM radio and analog wall clocks.

Classroom education was based on several design dictates which are getting disrupted:
  • the scarcity of information and the limited, privileged access to any advanced levels of knowledge
  • the storage of information by the use of ink on paper which necessitated physical facilities and distribution systems
  • the automatic trust in authority figures who's classroom education qualified them to serve in licensed and credentialed professional roles
  • the apparent shortage of citizens of all ages showing an interest in sharing their creativity, taking initiatives in communities or serving others as volunteers
  • the limiting of social interactions to phone calls, snail mail and F2F conversations in physical locations
  • the abundance of fossil fuels and atmospheric resilience to indulge in commuting to and from those classrooms
  • the stable growth of property valuations and income generation which provided a huge economic surplus to fund those classrooms
In the near future, I expect we will lower the cost of getting an education below what can be delivered through classrooms. We will also reduce the fuel consumption and carbon footprint of delivering an education. We will utilize the obvious groundswell of initiatives, creativity and social networking among the Millennial Generation to get educations provided better. Where teachers were regarded as experts in instructional design, school work assignments and content filtering, students will soon be seen as doing all those better than teachers can. Previous models of offering expertise on the basis of one-to-many will be replaced by aggregated crowdsourced models of many-to-many. Socializing that was done outside the classroom, during travel to classes and after school will become the occasions where education happens.

It will become well accepted that the person in the best position to help someone else learn a new concept, skill or framework is someone close in ability. The person who just learned it will remember what it's like to not know it as well the questions s/he had about it before it became clear. The rewards from making a difference, sharing resources and relating eye-to-eye will provide incentives to contribute. The transaction cost of delivering an education will fall below the most impoverished classrooms' budgets.

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