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Monday, March 4, 2013

Where did you earn your credit part 2

For a few months I was a part of the "Granny Cloud". That means I was partnered with a school in Columbia (an experiment in moving beyond India) in reading a d talking with school children. It wasn't specifically a Hole in the Wall, in fact, my volunteer time was sponsored by a Columbian school and the children were provided with technology to communicate with me by the school. It's wonderful that Sugatra Mitra won the TED prize this year, but I think we need to be careful when we look at what the Hole in the Wall project and the Granny Cloud has shown us.

The people who have successfully skipped college and become amazingly successful came from very successful backgrounds. They had a lot of support to begin with. Yes, Indian and Columbian children can learn on their own, but can they learn everything they need without guidance? Without assistance? And if everyone is learning everything on their own where is the future knowledge coming from? Research universities do quite a lot of.... research.

Much knowledge acquisition is still easier with guidance of some sort. And much research is still easier when a group of people is gathered together in one location whether or geographic or digital. These twin goals of the university seem to be forgotten in the debate on the irrelevance of higher education, whether it occurs face to face or digitally.