Bill Gates on education

Bill Gates said at the recent Techonomy conference:

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world

His view is that young people will no longer go to university, but will get their “education” from the web.

He also blames BIG text books for many of the failings in the current US college system.

Read more on TechCrunch.

The problem with any kind of system that requires students to find the relevant content on the web is that it makes certain assumptions about learners and institutions:

  1. They are self-motivated individuals who know what is best for them.
  2. They have the necessary information literacy skills to understand not only the information they find on the web, but also to make the judgement calls about the validity of such information.
  3. That institutions will be willing to place their best content for free on the web.
  4. That employers will not be concerned about how and where students have got their qualifications.

I do like the concepts behind open education, free learning, openware, open educational resources, and all that is currently vogue in education and learning. However the real key is much more not about whether educational institutions are ready for these kinds of initiatives, but whether learners are ready, willing and able to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

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