On private "classblogs" vs. the wild, wide open

Jul 25, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

D'Arcy Norman asks, "What right do we, as educators, have to compel students to publish on the open web?" My first reaction (as I'm sure it is for many) is that we shouldn't compel them to do anything. But when you ask the question in the context of formal education, you begin to see how ridiculous it is. Is there anything in education that isn't compelled? Participation is enforced to the age of 18, college and university courses typically have requirements for graduation. So why should public performance be any different? And - it isn't! We require singers and actors to perform in public in order to graduate. Lawyers stand in moot court. Interns perform in actual hospitals, apprentices in real garages. Graduate students are frequently reminded that they should have some journal publications to their name. So why the objection to publishing on the web? It's an irrational objection, when compared with the practices we see everywhere else in education.
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