Perhaps it’s time for me to go back to what first made this blog marginally popular: making fun of overenthusiastic educational technology articles written by people who know nothing about how education actually works. This may be the most absurd example of that genre that I’ve ever seen:
What we’re witnessing is a bottom-up revolution in education: Learners, not institutions, are leading innovation.
Because we know that learners already know everything they need to know about what they’re learning, why shouldn’t they decide how best to teach what they’re learning too? [Read that last sentence slowly again and you’ll see that it actually makes sense. Just remember that it’s sarcasm.]
Everybody thinks they know more about teaching than teachers. That’s why people like this think that social media will save us all:
Students are taking responsibility for their own learning, and the lines between student and teacher are blurring. Learners can determine their strengths and weaknesses and connect with one another to help and teach each other based on their areas of expertise–all they need is Facebook and Twitter.
Teachers? We don’t need no stinking teachers. We have each other, and we’ll Google everything that our friends and followers don’t know already.
The more I think about it, the more all this talk about credentialing and competencies strikes me as the natural step after online courses. First you claim that everything students need to know can be supplied through the web. Next, you deny that students need to take any courses at all:
The education paradigm of the future is all about the doers, not the academics or theorists. A paper degree won’t stand a chance against action. Start your own company, build a website, organize an event, get a side project, and you’ll make it. The accreditation of today is a powerful hybrid of tangible evidence of hands-on learning and social proof. Those who “course correct,” so to speak, and let their passion and personal interests drive their self-powered knowledge acquisition, will succeed because of the portfolios of evidence they’ll naturally build as they learn by doing. Those who mentor and partner with them will endorse their credibility and provide the final link of trust.
It’s bad enough when self-interested ed tech entrepreneurs degrade our contributions to education. It’s even worse when we do the same thing to ourselves:
Cathy Davidson, visiting from Duke University, said every professor who can be replaced by a computer screen should be – a comment several audience members immediately tweeted.
I’m pretty sure she meant that every professor who deserves to be replaced by a computer screen should be, but that’s a distinction without a difference when there are a bunch of Crazy Harries around who want to blow up schools everywhere. Collateral damage is inevitable.
But damage to faculty is hardly the most important problem here. Once you blow something up, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to put the pieces back together again when you inevitably decide that market values might not be the best criteria by which to judge the value of an education after all.
School’s out…of money.