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Friday, May 20, 2011

What has Changed 01 - Content is Free and Fluid

Things work until they don't. We need a new manifesto for education. Why? What has changed existentially over the last ten years? Why does education in the 21st Century need to be different than education in the 20th Century?

Reason 01: Most content is now free. Almost all content is fluid.

Nothing changes the education model more than the changes in content itself. There are three pieces to this:

1) Traditional content is free. The traditional content taught in K-12 (arguably the justification for schools) is getting asymptotically closer to free.

95% of the content in school libraries has lost all of its value in the last decade. All traditional K-12 curricula and textbooks and tests will be free (and freely available) in the next ten years. Undergraduate level material will follow about five years later. Given the increasing superiority of self-directed study, the structure of classes as a content delivery mechanism has become a net negative rather than a net positive for most people in most subjects.

2) New content is fluid: There is new content that has significant value. This currently makes up about 5% of a K-8, 10% of 9-12, 15% of undergraduate, and 30% of graduate work. But this content can be delivered all over the world at the speed of light. It is portable and increasingly accessible through a variety of outlets and funding mechanisms. Again, in the era of search engines and social media, the ability of schools to identify and present the best new content is now less effective than individuals.

3) Next-generation content is still under-used: As anyone who plays computer games or uses Facebook knows, there is a market need for new types of experiential educational content that can't be created using a word processor. But schools are generally holdouts, not innovators and leaders, in these critical areas of Learning to Do and Learning to Be.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! I agree that the fluidity of content makes "teaching" even less effective than it was when content was fixed---learners move through fluid content by exploring it, as a swimmer moves through water.

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