January 25, 2013
Comments Off on A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age
A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age
Work on this Bill of Rights & Principles began in Palo Alto, California, on December 14, 2012. We convened a group of people passionate about learning, about serving today’s students, and about using every tool we could imagine to respond better to the needs of students in a global, interactive, digitally connected world.
The Internet has made it possible for anyone on the planet to be a student, a teacher, and a creative collaborator at virtually no cost. Novel technologies that can catalyze learning are bubbling up in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Some have emerged from universities, some from the private sector, some from individuals and digital communities. In the past year, Massive Online Open Courseware, or MOOCs, have become the darling of the moment–lauded by the media, embraced by millions–so new, so promising in possibility, and yet so ripe for exploitation.
We believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially awe-inspiring opportunity to make new forms of learning available to all students worldwide, whether young or old, learning for credit, self-improvement, employment, or just pleasure. We believe that online courses can create “meaningful” as well as “massive” learning opportunities.
We are aware of how much we don’t know: that we have yet to explore the full pedagogical potential of learning online, of how it can change the ways we teach, the ways we learn, and the ways we connect.
And we worry that this moment is fragile, that history frequently and painfully repeats itself. Think of television in the 1950s or even correspondence courses in the 1920s. As we begin to experiment with how novel technologies might change learning and teaching, powerful forces threaten to neuter or constrain technology, propping up outdated educational practices rather than unfolding transformative ones.
All too often, during such wrenching transitions, the voice of the learner gets muffled.
For that reason, we feel compelled to articulate the opportunities for students in this brave electronic world, to assert their needs and–we dare say–rights.
We also recognize some broader hopes and aspirations for the best online learning. We include those principles as an integral addendum to the Bill of Rights below.
Our broad goal is to inspire an open, learner-centered dialogue around the rights, responsibilities, and possibilities for education in the globally-connected world of the present and beyond.
This document can’t be complete without continuous and dynamic contributions and revisions from students. We invite students everywhere to read this beginning, to talk about it, and to add to it. Remix, rehash, and hack this Bill of Rights, adding your own thoughts and perspective. On Twitter, please use the hashtag #learnersrights when you share your responses and adaptations.
For more on the background of this Bill or Rights and Pricinciples for Learning in the Digital Age, please see Cathy’s Davidson’s blog