Modern public education institutions and systems look and feel much
like they did half a century ago. They were not so much carefully
designed as accreted from our legacies of agricultural and industrial
societies from the last couple centuries. This worked reasonably well
for decades, but the information age’s arrival in the late 20th
century resulted in a rapid, far reaching transformation of
educational needs for both children and adult learners.
Unfortunately, our current educational system is often unable to adapt
quickly enough to these new needs, becoming less and less effective at
preparing its citizens for prosperous lives. However, the information
age also brought us the tools and paradigms of open source software,
open data, digital information commons, and collaborative scalability.
Together, they are a highly appropriate basis in which to transform
education in the same manner that they transformed the world of
software development. For years, though, some of the pieces to this
possible were missing. Recently, thanks to efforts from the Gates
Foundation, several forward-thinking educational institutions, and the
greatly reduced cost of cloud-based resources, we have now reached a
threshold or possibility for us to start building a new effective
system of education that is ready for the 21st century. This new
approach will help us gain rapid adaptability, higher quality
instruction, effective customization for individual students, and
lower overall cost to society. This talk will advocate for and
describe the use of now existing open source/open data tools and
approaches that can help us build an educational system for the 21st
Dr. Kurt Bollacker is a computer scientist with a research background in the areas of machine learning, digital libraries, semantic networks, and electro-cardiographic modeling. He was chief scientist of Metaweb Technologies, the creator of freebase.com, co-creator of the CiteSeer research tool, the technical director of the Internet Archive, and a biomedical research engineer at the Duke University Medical Center. He is currently pursuing research on long term digital archiving as the Digital Research Director at the Long Now Foundation and working on open source educational and collaborative tools.
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