Here we are... there we are going

George Siemens, Connectivism, Aug 14, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Do we work within the univresity (and government) system to effect change, or do we work outside it? At a policy discussion yesterday I opined that expending effort trying to change the existing system merely detracts from useful work we could be doing, and thta it makes more sense to develop an alternative approach, one which would evolve outside existing systems and eventually replace them.

In this post, George Siemens launches what amounts to an effective three-pronged attack against that position. To summarize:

1. It's not going to happen. "Universities aren't going anywhere. They are not going to disappear. Recent UNESCO (here and here) and World Bank publications (here) speak to the centrality of universities in international competitiveness.

2. It's not necessary. "Courses, unlike universities, are not directly integrated into the power system of a society... I would love to see courses more become more distributed and fragmented. Current conceptions of courses should be destabilized (or have a look at the online conference we hosted earlier this year: From Courses to Dis/Course)."

3. It's not desirable. "Many reform advocates suggest that distributed networks can do what organized structures have done in the past (such as Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head and through the network (of networks))" [but] Socially conscious thinking flourishes in universities like it does in no other public venue... The virtues that a society finds desirable are systematized in its institutions. However futile this activity, it helps society, and media, to hold people accountable, to devise strategies, and create laws so people feel safe."
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