Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Let the Market Decide

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Feb 04, 2008

Originally posted on Half an Hour, February 4, 2008.

Responding to Clive Shepherd.

The problem with 'let the market decide' - especially in education - is that the market is rigged.

We are used to thinking of the 'market' as students. But students - especially young students - are not in a position to make market decisions, and so people make these decisions for them. These people are the true 'market'.

For young children, the 'market' consists of the school boards. For older students the 'market' is curriculum committees and/or professors. For corporate learners the 'market' is the training department.

These markets are easily 'fixed'. For example, a common tactic is to convince members of the 'market' that the materials need some sort of 'certification'. Well, of course, free or 'amateur' content can never get this certification. The market is thus effectively closed to them.

The market is influenced in myriad ways - making sure people are elected to these boards, spreading FUD, creating legal ambiguity (or outright legal chaos, as in the case of SCO), and more.

So you can't just 'let the market decide'. That is tantamount to letting the biggest bully win.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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