Disruption is a buzzword in education these days. This is a story about disruption. What follows may not happen, but then again, it might.
Education is highly resistant to change. Education has not fundamentally changed in over a 100 years. I commented on the rate of change outside education yesterday. Education is due.
Many in my Personal Learning Network (Twitter) believe that public education will not change.
If public education in this county will not change on its own, how can disruption become a factor and where will the source of this disruption come from?
Matt Mason insightfully points out in his book The Pirate’s Dilemma that youth movements are a source of social change. Youth movements through the years have brought Do-It-Yourself attitudes from punk rock. The youth movements have brought remixing music, video, video games, etc, forcing a reexamination of our copyright laws. Street artists challenge the meaning of open spaces and advertising. Rap brings voice to the disinfected. Matt points out that history has proven time and time again that youth movements have the potential to enact social change. They disrupt.
The question is where will disruption come from and who will bring it to education.
Matt Mason notes some interesting facts in his book that there are, “…currently 1.5 billion ten-to twenty-four-year-olds on Earth, and 86 percent of them live in a developing country.”
Developing countries are ripe for disruption because they provide the gaps where disruption can easily occur.
“While the U.N. Research Institute estimates that the richest 2 percent of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, a report from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the United Nations University says that the poorer half of the world’s population owns barely 1 percent of the global wealth.”
The worlds poor does not have material wealth, but they do have minds and a desire to learn. The world’s poor posses a desire for knowledge and self-improvement that is equal to the wealthy. A “digital bridge” is slowly spanning the gaps between the rich and poor in developing countries.
“Efforts are being made to close the digital divide between the developed and the developing world. Open-source education, $100 laptops, and free, decentralized WiFi are a great start.”
But they are just a start. The key might lie in Internet access.
“A report on Internet readiness rankings by the Economist Intelligence Unit in April 2007 shows that Asian and African nations are catching up with big Net users in the West.”
In other words, the poor are getting wired up and plugging into the Internet.
“According to the report, broadband is becoming cheap and affordable in almost every nation on Earth.”
Internet access brings knowledge and information to the poor around the world. The reality is that a poor person is more likely to gain access to the Internet and the world of knowledge and information that it brings, than he or she is to get well-trained teacher in school.
Disruption will come when the poor of the world figure out ways to educate themselves and their neighbors via the Internet. Of course this education won’t match the focus, rigor, and quality of Western schools, but never the less, the drive and need to learn will create a youth movement in these developing countries for using the Internet as a tool to educate themselves and others.
And if all you have is the Internet, you are going to get very good at using it to meet your needs. You will develop methods and practices that seem strange, different, and unorthodox. They will rely on the Internet as a source of education.
Some in the West might begin to look at these poor kids in developing countries teaching themselves and their neighbors without classrooms and without teachers. Some might begin to wonder if that won’t work for them. Some might adopt some of these strange, different, and unorthodox practices.
Some might say this is the way that works best for me. This is the way I want to learn.
And change might finally come to public education. Disruption brought to the wealthy West from the dusty villages, back alleys, and crowded slums of the developing world.
Probably won’t happen right? But it might.