NPR highlights online education,
focusing on a new for-profit consortium. Makes the point that online lectures can bring the thoughts of great teachers to a worldwide audience, from a Kazakh software developer who needs credentials to a US "senator" who likes poetry.
Well now! Polistra has a fresh idea! Let's take it one step further and make it sustainable!
Let's make it possible to learn from the lecture without needing batteries and wi-fi connections.
Here's how it would work: We'll transcribe the online lectures into PDF form; then use a 3D printer to form up 3D versions of each PDF with the letters elevated from the spaces. Then we'll build a gadget to put ink on the 3D plate and press it against pieces of paper; finally we'll fasten the pages together around a single 'stalk' or spine. Since this is a lot like an E-book but can be used without Electricity, we could call it a -book. (The - is silent.) Wonder if that name is taken?
Pulling out of our deep dive into the Sardonic Sea... Polistra's point is nevertheless valid. Preserving the lectures of great teachers and disseminating the copies to the whole world? VERY OLD IDEA. As old as Confucius, Moses and Jesus. And holding remote classes with local teaching assistants using the disseminated lectures? Hmm. Seems familiar too. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Not sure who said that, but I'm pretty sure he lived before Steve China-Jobs.
Even if we take the more modern idea of broadcasting lectures with electricity, it's still 120 years old. Around 1890,
telephone systems were 'broadcasting' music and lectures. In 1920 educational radio began
carrying lectures to outlying towns as part of a full-fledged 'online' course. Educational TV started up with the same mission in 1950, and while PBS has gone commercial, it still maintains side-channels that carry classroom content. Even commercial radio and TV used to carry such courses (eg Sunrise Semester
) in the early morning.
It's all old, and worst of all it's NOT LEARNING. Very little learning comes from lectures and books, no matter how fancy the medium. Good teachers have known this for centuries, but our idiot education system continues to focus on lectures.
again. We treat learning as a noun, and we think it means memorizing countable objects called "facts". No. Precisely wrong. Learning comes from interacting and relating with Nature and humans, preferably with a specific goal and with supervision. Learn is a verb.
Labels: 20th century Dark Age, Experiential education