An area of growing interest in educational technology circles has been the subject of open access and education—having educational resources freely available to anyone who can access them on the web. A couple of popular examples can be found with the MIT Open CourseWare project and iTunesU.
The current EDUCAUSE Review (ER) devotes an entire issue to the topics of the “open future,” “open student,” “open courses,” and “open faculty.” You can read this current issue here: http://www.educause.edu/er.
In general, the open education movement has focused on reconnecting with what David Wiley (2010) argued in his ER piece. He states that “as institutions and as individuals, we seem to have forgotten the core values of education: sharing, giving, and generosity” (Openness as Catalyst for an Educational Reformation). However, the open access movement comes with, what some critics are seeing as, the baggage of technological distractions. Nicholas Carr has termed this “The Shallows” (The Internet Diet, 2010), and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger (2010) wrote about this in the pages of ER with his piece on Individual Knowledge in the Internet Age:
I fear that if we take their [“Internet boosters”] advice, in the place of a creative society with a reasonably deep well of liberally educated critical thinkers, we will have a society of drones, enculturated by hive minds, who are able to work together online but who are largely innocent of the texts and habits of study that encourage deep and independent thought.
Katrina A. Meyer’s (2010) contended that “truly innovative disruption prompted by technology in higher education will force us to think in new ways, providing opportunities for the changes needed for higher education to survive and thrive” (The Role of Disruptive Technology in the Future of Higher Education). Does this really address what, in the same issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Sharon A. Weiner outlined regarding the 2009 University of Washington study on “Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age:”
The findings are troubling. College students think of information seeking as a rote process and tend to use the same small set of information resources no matter what question they have:
- The primary sources they use for course work are course readings and Google.
- They rely on professors to be “research coaches” for identifying additional sources.
- They use Google and Wikipedia for research about everyday life topics.
- They tend not to use library services that require interacting with librarians. (Information Literacy: A Neglected Core Competency)
These are interesting and important viewpoints and questions, and it will be fascinating to see where this all leads.