Our modes and ways of learning have changed dramatically over the past few decades. Take a look a little further – say, 200 years back – and the beginning of the information revolution introduced newspapers with, until then, unheard of information speeds. The enlightenment brought new ideas. Time of travel decreased. Imaginations of the world and its many variations, increased. Cities were formed, nation-states were formed, international alliances were forged, as was our common understanding of education. We may take it for granted, but perhaps we should not take the future of education for granted at all? Educational institutions, perhaps especially Higher Education, are among the most resilient and long-lasting institutions of the West. The only institution that bears comparison in the English-speaking world, is the Catholic church. Oxford University dates back to the 1200´s. And yet, the movement that began with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, the coming of the Internet, and the development of the Personal Computer, has changed — if not everything, then certainly – a lot.
These are the sorts of reflections marking a book that bears reading and commenting: Davidson, Cathy N. David Theo Goldberg (2009) The Future of Learning institutions in a Digital Age, Cambridge, Massachussetts: The MIT Press
- How should we think about the future of learning? What will future learning institutions look like, and what ought they to look like? Professors Davidson and Goldberg ask refreshingly fundamental questions. Their starting point – in this book and other collaborative works – is simply this: While learning spaces keep changing, at alarming speeds, institutions of learning have changed mostly “around the edges”. They remain fundamentally the same. One reason for this is simply the success of education as a social institution. Universities work. Our education systems have been effective.
- But now sources of information abound in a variety of ways. Ways of exchanging information have changed. How we interact with information, individually and as institutions, have changed dramatically. How information shapes and reshapes us has changed. A lot.
- And so has our way of understanding these issues, except perhaps in education – where a deeper and more probing approach is needed when it comes to how we understand the fundamentals of education´s digital future.
- Institutions of higher education are based on hierarchies, physical location and presence, as well as privileged access. Modern learning spaces now emerging, are characterised by networking, multi-levelled participation and information being accessible everywhere, all the time.
- From that perspective it becomes an open question whether and how higher education institutions will manage networks of tenured faculty, junior faculty, adjunct faculty and emeriti faculty – -as one example. Another example: What happens to student hierarchies defining and contrasting BA from MA from PhD, when information is accessible at low costs without enrolment into programs and institutions of distinction?
The book contains a wealth of well-placed questions and observations.