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on August 21, 2010
"The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age" is a free Kindle redaction of a larger book to come: "The Future of Thinking: Learning in a Digital Age." It proceeded from the MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning, based on a collaborative work on this subject. The thesis of this Kindle book is that "the single most important characteristic of the Internet is its capacity to allow for a worldwide community and its endlessly myriad subsets to exchange ideas, to learn from one another in a way not previously available."

As a teacher and priest, and one interested in how the new technologies are changing us, I found the book fascinating and that it raised many important issues. In short, I find that the book makes the reader aware of how the world is changing, especially the world of education, and makes the reader think about the relationship between technology, especially the Internet, and education. However, it makes promises based on misunderstandings of human nature and behavior without acknowledging the limitations and failings of Internet technology and the ways we use it.

The first chapter is titled "The Classroom or the World Wide Web? Imaging the Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age." It argues that institutions of learning have changed far more slowly than the modes of learning offered by the Internet. Furthermore, rival institutions of learning such as the Internet challenge traditional institutions such as the hierarchy of teacher and student, credentialing, and restriction of admission. While these ideas are provocative, I find that there is a one-sided presentation that only looks at the possible positive outcomes of Internet learning and overstates its case. For example, it's unlikely that the hierarchy of teachers and learners will ever be abolished, even if the nature of these may change. There will always be some who, through experience, position, or wisdom, become the leaders of others. Also, the authors seem to assume that the fact that the Internet democratizes in terms of opportunities people have will necessarily result in equal outcomes. However, as in every other area of human behavior, people will not use the Internet equally, and, thus, there will be an inequality of outcomes. The section on participatory learning was useful. But here, again, the authors do not adequately deal with the issue. They raise the issue of growing dropout rates and the divide between those who are educated and those who are not, but they offer no solution - only a vague promise that participatory, networked learning will make things better. In extolling Wikipedia as a collaborative, participatory, networked work, the authors don't address the fact that Wikipedia is often inaccurate and that people with power, whether corporate (such as government, corporations, or political groups) or individuals (such as hackers) can manipulate information.

The rest of the chapters are titled "Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy: Ten Principles for the Future of Learning," "Challenges from Past Practice" and "Conclusion: Yesterday's Tomorrow."

Throughout the book, it's clear that Marshall McLuhan's proverb, "the medium is the message" becomes important in answering the question of what the implications are for Internet for education. In summary, this work raises a lot of the right questions about technology and education but answers them in a one-sided way.
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on February 1, 2016
I think that this was a pretty good review and did a good job of forecasting the future paradigm against that of the current changes taking place within education. The changes in education currently taking place are astronomical compared to the last 100 years and this is just the beginning.

The paper still holds it's own today even though its rapidly approaching ten years old. The ten principles are solid, still going strong and most likely will hold true for decades to come. We now have the term or acronym, MOOC which if I remember correctly was coined around the time of its release.

The principles are still taking place while apps are currently being created that promote collaborative learning, universities are losing ground to self-learning, open source is proliferating and vertical authority is being flattened.

Anyone interested in the future of learning should read this paper. The reason for the four is the age of the paper, and the bias. However it is still relevant.
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on March 18, 2011
There were parts I enjoyed.

I enjoyed the Ichabod Crane reference, it is funny because it is true.

Their comments about Wikipedia and its use/non-use rang true. What they didn't seem to realize was teaching the critical thinking skills that identifies valid information and inaccuracies would then be applied in the classroom to the teaching materials and the content provided by the professor.

I also agreed with their description of the Internet as a "productive if complex and challenging switchboard" rather than "sometimes resembling a maze".

Ultimately, I thought this slender book had a few good points with lots of words in-between for padding, very typical of academic writing. Unfortunately, not a lot of solutions either. Perhaps unfairly, I expected more substance because of the association with MIT.

Currently available free for Kindle.
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on July 5, 2014
A rehash of old ideas. Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner provided much the same in "Teaching as a Subversive Activity" in 1969. As a "dead white male" college professor of almost 30 years, let me remark on the frequency with which I have listened to supposed innovators lecture about how the lecture is dead. We have heard repeatedly about how grades undermine learning, and most educators agree with this statement. The problem with grades is that they are the currency in which students, transfer institutions, and ultimately employers operate. Sir Ken Robinson is an inspiration (check out his TED talks), but this dry hash makes the complaint, promises a vague future, and offers nothing of usable content and nothing that hasn't been said for decades.
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on February 5, 2018
This book is 9 years old and the context has not changed. Universities have moved online driven by market forces but the model of learning has not changed.
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on May 18, 2017
Well written and educational. I have not verified the content but it is informational from the writters' perspective.
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on March 27, 2015
A very nice snapshot of emerging trends in education, none of which are comprehended by the current Federal administrators or law makers.
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on March 13, 2012
It was an interesting review of what is going on in learning institutions as they become digital. However, it offered very little insight into how to change and grow the institutions to make better use of digital learning and how to expand it so that everyone can participate. The growth of digital learning is important to our country as it can effectively increase the exposure of new developments to all, but we are not providing it to all who need it. Much of this book (article) looks at what has been done but does not explore how to expand it.
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on January 16, 2016
Helped me out a lot.
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on March 12, 2013
Really not that good of an ebook, but what did you expect for free on kindle?, I thought it would have more substance.
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