Nelson’s piece on education in Dream Machines is pretty interesting. While I like the idea of letting students dictate their path, decide when they’re prepared for tests, and generally take more autonomy in the classroom, I’m not sure its realistic. Nelson writes,
“Motivate the user and let him loose in a wonderful place.
Let the student control the sequence, put him in control of interesting and clear material, and make him feel good — comfortable, interested, and autonomous. Teach him to orient himself… Such ultra-rich environments allow the student to choose what he will study, when he will study it and how he will study it, and to what criteria of accomplishment he will aim. “
That kind of transformation would require both a fundamental change in teaching and an equivalent — or larger — change in students. Education here is built upon teacher-as-head, slow, steady, ‘all move as one’ didacticism. Maybe younger students are pliable and would be able to cope with a change to an more enlightened teaching — but the thought of the chaos of that initial transition is a little scary.
Nelson’s “fundamental point”:
“Computer assisted instruction, applied thoughtlessly and imitatively , threatens to extend the worst features of education as it is now.”
is reasonable. This seems to be a trap some large webcast courses and MOOCs fall into. Are there examples of those that don’t? What are examples of good integration of technology (as defined by Nelson) in public schools?