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Academy of One: The Power & Promise of Open-Source Learning

Learners need to create their own identities online, and educators need to understand why this is important.

The internet is the most powerful communication tool in human history. Online technology has forever changed our economy, our systems of government, and our personal lives.

In the discussion below, Academy of One author David Preston provides a rationale for empowering students to use the public internet & a basic strategy for creating a learning network.

If you’d like to read more about this in Academy of One, or share the book with your learning community, please scroll to the bottom of the page to receive your 20% discount code.

Teachers and Students: Please feel free to use the elements of this post that work for you, and customize the approach for the learners in your network.

In more than 50 years of using the internet, our educational institutions have not systemically addressed the question of how to help learners understand or effectively participate in digital culture.

As a result, although learners spend hours on the internet every day, they graduate without being able to define the word internet, much less understand it well enough to engage with it more effectively.

Because school has not kept pace with the surrounding technological evolution in our culture, and because the organizational structure and culture of school is so strong, computing has conformed to the shape of medieval classroom and lab environments and practices.

Even during the pandemic-related campus closures, many schools still mistakenly confuse “distance” or “virtual” learning with placing textbook-based, standardized content on expensive, corporate-built learning (read: data) management platforms that few educators or learners understand well.

As a result, schools pay to make teachers and learners intellectual sharecroppers who create content that is leveraged by software companies for financial gain, none of which is shared with the content creators or the schools.

Open-Source Learning can solve these problems.

Open-Source Learning encourages everyone to use their phones, tablets, and computers to go online wherever and whenever they are learning. Selecting and using tools invites learners to think critically and creatively about their goals, their routines, and how to find, evaluate, & analyze information online.

Curating work on the public internet increases the value of student work. In the traditional classroom, the student turns in a paper. The paper is viewed by an audience of one, graded and returned, stuffed in a binder, and lost to history. This process is replicated in many of the online “walled gardens” favored by schools.

Open-Source Learners curate their work on websites and blogs that they themselves develop, maintain, and own. These blogs are visible in a directory (please see below) to members of the learners’ networks, at the learners’ discretion, and they share a world of insight far beyond what is reflected in letter grades or test scores.

Member blog directory (above)
Sample learner blogs (below)

In the process of developing blogs and curating work, learners explore issues related to online safety and security, intellectual property and business models, social media, and the attention economy. They develop strategies for using their devices in ways that support their healthy development.

Perhaps most importantly, when they leave school, Open-Source Learning graduates can approach any scholarship judge, university admissions officer, or prospective employer with a value proposition.

Instead of presenting transcripts and essays which essentially say, “Here’s an idea of what I could do if you give me a chance,” Open-Source Learning graduates can share a link to a digital portfolio that says: “Here’s what I’ve already done.”

You can learn more about ways to engage Open-Source Learners in Academy of One – available wherever you like to buy your books online. To receive a discount of 20% click on the image below & use code RLEGEN20 to order directly from the publisher.