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Applying "Why School" to Higher Ed
October 16, 2012 - 9:00pm

Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere by Will Richardson

Published, September 2012.  51 pages.  $2.99.

Why School? is part of the wonderful new TED Books series.  Have you read any of these TED books?  We are in the middle of a concise nonfiction renaissance, made possible by e-book readers, tablets, and new software platforms such as Atavist.  

Richardson's primary concern in Why School? is K-12.  But his prescriptions for reforming primary and secondary education should also be taken seriously by postsecondary educators.   

The primary argument in Why School? is that we continue to design learning around models of scarcity. Scarcities in information. Scarcities in curiosity. Scarcities in available talent. The scarcity model of education design has become irrelevant in the age of information abundance.  

Richardson asks why school is the one place where students are not allowed to utilize the primary tools that they will need for a lifetime of learning, including the web and mobile devices. He wonders how we would design our schools if we started from scratch, with full knowledge of Google, WikiPedia, iPhones, and X-Boxes.   

These questions will not be new to our edtech and learning design crowd, as we have been working to leverage information abundance in the re-design of our higher ed courses. What makes Why School? a worthwhile read is that it connects the active learning work that we are doing in higher ed with innovations at the high school and middle school level.  

If the experiments profiled in Why School? are at all representative it seems as if are in for waves and waves of rising college learners that have experienced the potential of technology enabled active learning.   

We may look back on the publication of Why School? as a warning that we have a limited window to transform the last of our passive lecture courses to learning experiences that enable students to co-construct their own learning. If we fail to make this transition the traditional university course may seem as anachronistic as the desktop computer to tomorrow's college student.

Any other TED Book fans out there?

What concise nonfiction are you reading?


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