‘The World is Open’ – Book Review

I spent part of  Christmas break catching up on my reading –  The World is Open, by Dr. Curtis Bonk was a highlight. 480 pages later – I couldn’t wait to write the review to share with my readers (you know you’re pretty ‘into’ something when you devour a non-fiction book in three days).

“Anyone can learn anything from anyone at anytime” (Bonk, p 7). This opener captures the gist of the book succinctly. ‘So what’ you may ask?  You likely have heard the likes of this before, education is changing … etc. etc. … online learning, e-books, open source, etc., etc. etc.  But really, how will these new technologies effect higher education? When?  How does this effect educators like you and me?  I’m not sure about you, but I’m seeking answers to these questions. Though Bonk doesn’t respond directly, he does in his enthusiastic and energetic writing style describe and give real life examples of ten promising technological applications, systems and trends that are revolutionizing education, which is why I enjoyed the book to extent I did, it’s encouraging and enlightening at the same time.

Bonk describes the ten trends in a framework named WE-ALL-LEARN. I am not a big fan of  using mnemonics in this type of situation, however it does work. Below are the ten, and I’ve highlighted three in blue text that I feel have the most potential to impact Higher Education in a big way (though there are several within the ten). Below the list, I describe e-learning and blended learning (opener #2), concluding with what higher education institutions should seriously be thinking about ( in my opinion).

world is open cover
worldisopen.com

Ten Openers: WE-ALL-LEARN (Bonk, p 51)

  1. Web Searching in the World of E-books
  2. E-Learning and Blended Learning
  3. Availability of Open Source and Free Software
  4. Learning Object Repositories and Portals
  5. Learner Participation in Open Information Communities
  6. Electronic Collaboration
  7. Alternate Reality Learning
  8. Real-time Mobility and Portability
  9. Networks and Personalized Learning

#2: E-Learning and Blended Learning

Though Bonk covers all aspects of e- learning in his chapter ‘E-Demand Around the Globe’,  Bonk’s statistics regarding online education (higher-ed) in for-profit schools, public  and private universities emphasize the growth and expansion of  online learning.  In fact many schools have taken the plunge and included online learning in long-term academic planning. In 2008 state leaders in Minnesota introduced a plan to offer 25% of college credit courses online by 2015 (Bonk, p 128). University of Illinois (UIS) is a trail blazer in offering Online programs beginning in 1997. UIS now offers 35% of its course credits online, with sixteen degree programs, four blended programs and master’s programs in several disciplines. These are only two examples of many.

Bottom line for Higher Education: “Online learning is now just an expected component of higher education services” (Bonk, p 128).  E-learning is not a trend but a reality. Colleges and universities, both public and private need to develop, if they have not already done so, a comprehensive strategy that embraces online learning, incorporating online credit courses and degree programs into the institution’s short and long-term academic plans.

I have other strong views about #4 and #6 from the list, but alas time has run out, I’ll save my musings on these for another post.  However, if interested check out worldisopen.com, there are some interesting discussions. Also invaluable, are the listings of resources listed by chapter, under the tab FREE STUFF and  RESOURCES. Check it out.

Debbie🙂

References:

Bonk, C. J. (2009) The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.

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