Learning.com, Virtual Curriculum Marketplaces, and the failure of Walled Gardens
Hmm. I’ll start by saying that I am not a Luddite. If you have read a few of my blog posts, then you already know this.
I have also been a fan of Learning.com for quite a number of years, despite a failed project in Japan with the company more than 5 years ago. Their EasyTech products are wonderful.
I understand and believe that Learning.com – and others – can and do provide great educational technology resources and curriculum materials for students and teachers. I am also aware that the video clip is a marketing tool.
I am also an advocate for technology in learning, in schools, by and for students, and used by faculty in classrooms. I have used a wide variety of technologies, both proprietary and open. I also understand and agree that schools, teachers, and parents have a responsibility to provide good, safe, secure, and appropriate resources for the education of children.
But watching both clips, I cannot help but feel that there is something wrong with limiting technology-based education to what is provided in a virtual vending machine. That vending machine may contain more than the 25 buttons on a beverage machine and may even resemble a curriculum convenience store more than the metaphor used in the video suggests. But any just-in-time process for passing on skills, knowledge, experience, and understanding is based on the misguided principle that most of what should be passed on to schoolchildren is already known and can be planned.
I cannot help but cringe at this suggestion. I think that most of what we need is uncertain. Most knowledge is unknown. The most promising things we can teach in schools and to our children is the determination to prepare for uncertainty and the courage to undertake adventure. For this, we must resist the temptation to create walled gardens – no matter how vast – and build the environments in which we can ensure the greatest safety from hazards while allowing our children to take on risks and overcome challenges.