Education in the Open World

The recent generations have been bathed in connecting technology from birth, says futurist Don Tapscott, and as a result the world is transforming into one that is far more open and transparent. In this inspiring talk, he lists the four core principles that show how this open world can be a far better place.

I believe this talk is particularly interesting to educators, because it illustrates the impact of today’s technology on society and how education will evolve in the age of networked intelligence where millions of people are now empowered to be able to learn together, and share their collective intelligence.

Don named 4 principles of the open world:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Transparency
  3. Sharing (embracing the commons)
  4. Empowerment (the distribution of knowledge, power)

He gave a historic view of our society and how it evolved from the Agrarian Age – where knowledge was concentrated in the church and the nobility – to the Industrial Age brought by the invention of printing press, which gave people the access to recorded knowledge. Then there came along the Internet, which moved us into the Age of Networked Intelligence – where millions of people around the world can collaborate and tap into the mind and intelligence of each other for a better world of tomorrow. It surely sounds promising.

“Humanity is building a machine, and this enables us to collaborate on an astronomical basis.”

“Social media is becoming social production.”

What powerful statements they are!

Our School Systems Today

When Don said “We need to change and open up all our institutions,” I immediately thought of our school systems. They are definitely a product of the Industrial Age: judged by the 4 principles highlighted out by Don, most of our school systems will fail miserably in today’s open world.

The real question is: Can our existing school system survive the transformation from an isolated institution to a more open, more networked global platform of learning? What new roles will our existing Principals and teachers find themselves playing in a more open, networked world for the “Net Generation”?

Schools need to open up, one way or another. Just like what Don said, “Everywhere institutions are becoming naked. Fitness is no longer optional.” “This is moving forward; the train has left the station; the cat is out of the bag; the horse is out of the barn; the toothpaste is out of the tube… we are not putting this one (the open world) back.”

In my imagined open world, schools will have no walls, no boundaries. Children will be able to learn not just from the few teachers in the school, but from the best minds in the world, and from a more collaborative, transparent, sharing and empowering community of individuals across the globe. Wouldn’t it be a much better world?


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