|Issue Number 7||
Two Big Questions
Looking Back: MemesThe idea of a meme is usually attributed to Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He describes a gene as a biological unit that seeks to replicate and survive. He describes a meme as an idea or behavior that can be passed from person to person, thus replicating and surviving.
Looking at Current TimesI have just read Jeff Howe’s 2008 book Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. Crowdsourcing is a relatively recent idea, and it is a meme. In brief, it says that in a variety of situations, the thinking and the actions of the crowd (a large collection of people) can be very productive and effective. The Wikipedia provides a good example of crowdsourcing. Tens of thousands of people have contributed to the Wikipedia.
Looking into the Future
can imagine a future when high quality computer-assisted learning
covering the K-16 curriculum is available free on the Web. These free
education materials will be in many different languages with versions
to fit many different cultures. The courseware will run on the
inexpensive computers and networks being made available through the One
Laptop per Child project and other projects designed to inexpensive
provide a networked computer to every student on earth. See http://laptop.org/en/vision/index.shtml.
One Laptop per Child is a meme. It is a powerful idea that is slowly working it way into the minds of millions of people throughout the world. Quite likely this meme will spread so widely that it will become commonplace to expect that essentially every student has a decent laptop computer with decent connectivity to use at home and school.
The free high quality K-16 Computer Assisted Learning courseware is also a meme. I like to name it “free education for everyone.” This meme has been slower to catch on. It faces strong barriers from our current educational system, the various companies and organizations that are built on the current educational system, and large numbers of people educated through the “traditional” educational system.
It will take a very large effort on the part of a very large number of volunteers and some generous donors to implement wide scale free education for everyone. As illustrated by the Wikipedia and some other major parts of the Web, some aspects of this project lend themselves to crowdsourcing. However, other aspects will take major funding to facilitate planning and collaboration among a large number of people.
About Information Age Education, Inc.
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with address http://IAE-pedia.org,
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