Gates thinks the idea of young adults having to go to universities in order to get an education is going to go away relatively soon. Well, provided they’re self-motivated learners.

Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web

Who will provide this education?  Edupreneurs like Gates?  Laughable.  Just as his crystal gazing has been (64k enough?).  Who will be the new gatekeepers k-higher ed?  Kaplan, UoP, Navitas?  What we are looking at is privatization of the commons that is happening everywhere.  If this revolution meant the blossoming of a million communities of practice centering on learning for all from cradle to grave as needed, then I would carry one of the lead torches.  But that is not where my suspicions lead me.  I suspect that this is being viewed as another edupreneurial ‘opportunity’ much like Katrina was viewed as an opportunity to foist charter schools on NOLA and accreditation mongering of failed institutions at the university level.

Why do we listen to ‘experts’ like Gates with obvious conflicts of interests in what they suggest?  Gates continues,

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. “It will be better than any single university.”

Lectures and classrooms–that is what Gates thinks university are at their best?  Better than any single university?  I can’t even begin to fathom this.  And I suppose he thinks there could be a chancellor or president of this university.  Gates never has understood the Web. It is no wonder it took so long for Microsoft figure out the cloud.

On textbooks he manages a little tepid swing,

They’re giant, intimidating books,” he said. “I look at them and think: what on Earth is in there?

Yes, file that under the department of redundancy department.  People way better informed are actually doing something about this besides blathering. He finally nods off into dodderdom when he suggests a connection between textbook length and Asian education “beating us in many ways”.  His conclusion about textbooks?

The problem is that these things are built by committee, and more things are simply added on top of what’s already in there.

According to the article (and I certainly hope they have got this wrong)  he concludes by saying that “technology is the only way to bring education back under control and expand it.”  Talk about false dichotomies.  Are these the leaders we deserve in education or have we forgotten the simple maxim that ‘experts’ should be on tap and not on top?  I believe that local communities using all the tools they can gather and with all the people with passion and love of learning they can muster–that is where the future of education lay.  Decentralized, convivial, and perhaps technologically bootstrapped, but definitely local, responsive to, and adapted under those conditions. 

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