By Stephen Downes
October 9, 2004

The Buntine Oration: Learning Networks
Text of the Buntine Oration, delivered to the at the Australian College of Educators and the Australian Council of Educational Leaders conference in Perth, Australia. MS Word version. This is the unpolished version; links and references will be added over the next few days, slides will be made available and an audio feed added.

"I had this vision, you see, that the use of learning objects would, in effect, make learning content seamlessly and effortlessly available not only to all students, but to all people in the world who wished to learn, and that the portability and reusability of learning objects meant that we could develop an educational environment where students were not marched in lockstep through a predefined curriculum but instead could have the freedom and capacity to explore the world of learning according to their own interests and their own whims. Learning, genuinely free and accessible learning, could be produced and shared by all.

"So what went wrong? I mean, it’s easy to say that the systems are too expensive, the learning too boring, the search too cumbersome, the reusable objects too not reusable. What matters here is that I be able to explain why the existing model is inadequate, and how it differs from the model that is worth emulating, the one that I have suggested, and now say explicitly, is the model instantiated by the World Wide Web itself.

"Order emerges out of networks because networks are not static and organized but instead are dynamic and growing. A network consists of a set of entities – called, variously, units or neurons, but which can be in fact anything from crickets to blog posts to bloggers. In a network, these entities operate autonomously and are only tenuously connected – as the slogan goes, small pieces loosely joined. They receive input from other entities to which they are connected, organize that input, and then pass it on – or as the slogan goes, ‘aggregate, remix, repurpose, feed forward’." By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2004 Stephen Downes
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