Mike Caulfield emailed last week to point out the MacArthur Foundation report. No disrespect to Mike (he's a good bloke) but I had never heard of the MacArthur Foundation and its reports before, I supposed its a big deal publication in the States?
And then George Siemens mentions the report too, this time to highlight the inadequate literature review. I loath reading PDFs that are so obviously written and formatted for print first and foremost, so it was a real struggle to find the motivation...
20 or more pages into it and I'm not familiar with anything or anyone mentioned in it, which makes me feel a little uneasy.. the general direction it suggests as the future is something I keep a watch on, it is the domain I exist in and am helping to make happen, or so I like to think anyway. Why is this report so foreign in origins?
So I was curious to see the sorts of things that informed it. I skipped ahead in search of links or references.. nothing!; notes: an interesting array of mostly journal articles; and then the clincher - collaborators: Almost entirely academics based in US universities! Not a single blogger, networked intellectual, or practitioner outside the US.
Aint that classic - what an echo chamber academia is - especially US academia. I would be more forgiving if the report was titled The Future of Learning in North American Institutions, but its written for a "global audience" with "global authority" but with VERY narrow perspective. I'd sooner accept the future of learning institutions written by the incredibly insightful Binyavanga Wainaina!
Now, to my respected networked colleagues who happen to be Americans, this is not a slight at you or your national identity, its more to point out an extremely irritating thing about American academia generally, it needs to use its resource reach back into the long tail A LOT more!
The contributors to this report are entirely people from within the (US) 'institutions' making very predictable predictions. (I thought we were agreeing that the future of institutions will come NOT from within the institutions anyway?)... Ironically, almost all the visioning this report makes about the future comes not from primary sources from throughout the 'network' they celebrate, but from their own secondary and tertiary sources of peer reviewed, print published papers. This report is proof in itself that the future they predict is in fact a future far far away from them. As George points out, they still don't know about Google search!
The American centricity it is a bit of an issue actually, especially for us here in Australia and New Zealand. Because of the over whelming outputs from the US, it is very difficult to find work that has parallels with the Australian or New Zealand experience. What is the future of networked learning in a country with more than 2/3rds of the population not connected to the Internet? I reckon America must be similar, but perhaps her institutions deal more with wealthy classes than in Australia and New Zealand...
Once again, please read Illich for a better future.
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