If PLEs Are Incompatible with the System Then How Do We Change the System?

Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, Dec 11, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Graham Attwell cites a post written by George Siemens which says, in effect, "PLEs are great. They're just completely incompatible with the existing education system." I think the word 'completely' is probably an overstatement, as we showed with our recent CCK08 online course. Nonetheless, the educational system seems either unwilling or unable to adapt to new learning modalities.

Why? Well, that's the interesting bit in this. "George quotes Evetts, Mieg, and Felt who "suggest that expertise has as a significant sociological component. Power, authority, and validity all play a role. Focus on accountability, audits, and performance targets are now heavily intertwined with professionalism. Structures of control - such as education - are not solely about knowledge and the interaction of learners with academics. Education is a system based in a sociological context. Or, more bluntly, there is 'no fundamental difference between the pursuit of knowledge and that of power.'"

That's why I say so often that we need to change how we understand power if we are to change education - and the levers of power are even more intractable than the levers of learning.
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