Digital is Different

“The most important thing is not to optimise what you do, but to find out and decide what you should be doing… find out where you should really be and to make sure that you are climbing the tallest peak, not just a false summit…If you get stuck on a small mountain, you get to the top and look around and you find you’re on the wrong mountain. A mile away is a mountain that’s twice as tall…Learn how to search the landscape very widely, and to make sure we find the tallest mountain to climb – that we find the right thing to do. And having done that, if we find ourselves on top of a false summit…In other words we’ve got to get down the mountain, and cross that desert, and come up on the tallest peak. And that’s called letting go, killing a product at its peak.”

(Via Brave New World: Rethinking the Future: The Digital Divide)

This might sound quite abstract by itself — as a ‘thing to do’, but when you read the full article, you will know that it makes perfect sense. Martyn Daniels asks why the publishing industry is still stuck on the print model of the product and tries and retrofit this model in the digital world.

Digital is different and needs to be approached differently — not just as a medium but the social context of what digital is, how it is consumed, and how it is produced. There are no more ‘passive consumers’, and the more we treat them as such, the more we are alienating them from consuming our products. While Martyn makes a specific case in publishing, I suspect it is true across industries; education being no exception.

Hat Tip: Eoin Purcell

Advertisements

Free Content’s Responsibility

The tag line reads, “education can be…affordable”.

Using a collaborative and web-based compilation model that can manifest open resource content as an adaptive textbook, termed the “FlexBook”, CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality, locally and temporally relevant, educational web texts.

Enter flexbooks from cK-12.org. Enter, potentially, the ultimate in prosumer content creation for education. And it is licensed under Creative Commons, which gives it the edge; most academics support free content.

A few articles on the site talk of how various states across the United States are adopting online resources — the advantages are many: affordability, children do not have to carry heavy textbooks, dependency on publishers, content currency, choice of providers, and not in the least, a green classroom.

Content is still King, however, the King is now more accessible to its subjects. There is just that added responsibility that the King has — educate the users how best to make good use of this content. And while the obvious benefits of online (and free) content are many, the advantage of free content for teaching and learning needs to be harnessed well.

Traditional content came with traditional ideas on how to employ content for teaching and learning. It may not work very well, if the content is online, structured very differently from the standard-print, and the users employ online content for teaching and learning in the same way as standard-print. Users need to have resources to help them understand how best they can use online content to ensure teaching and learning. New method has to meet new medium.

PS: Twenty minutes since this post was published, I stumble upon the “Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning” by Peter Tittenberger and George Siemens. Talk of instant gratification!