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Disintermediation: The disruption to come for Education 2.0

Technology is an alpha-male field – it comes to dominate what it touches. It transforms what it encounters. To be a technologist, it appears, means that all fields serve at your discretion. Look at the music and movie industries, journalism, and increasingly education. The people driving the reform are not necessarily the experts in the field. The techno-colonization of these fields has religious undertones. I’m uncomfortable with almost any declaration about how dramatically education will change when it comes from someone outside of the education field. Which means I inherently distrust articles like The disruption to come for Education 2.0. The final paragraph does a fairly good job of summarizing what many of us in the edublog space have been talking about for about a decade (and, prior to that, adult education theorists advocated for personalized, customized, flexible learning). However, any view of education reform that fails to account for the systemic and social roles education plays in society is incomplete. It’s fine to spend time exploration what is changing in education…the real need is to discuss and discover what education is becoming. Technologists see the change but don’t consider the becoming.


  1. John Connell wrote:

    I’ve been pondering a post on this piece since it appeared a couple of weeks ago, but every time I come back to it and think about it the issues become ever more complex.

    Basically, I think the Rob Tucker piece manages to get almost everything wrong with respect to the nature of disintermediation as it applies to education. The crude analogy between the travel business and education is simply laughable. Trying to apply the proffered definition of ‘disintermediation’ to education is like trying to apply it to a passenger airline – it doesn’t work, and if you try to apply it anyway at the wrong moment it will lead to disaster.

    What it misses, for instance, is that the teacher is not a ‘middle player’ in the sense that a travel agent is. The teacher does not ‘consume resources’ in the complex processes of teaching and learning. The role of the teacher is much more complex, and much more ‘additive’ than the middle player is in a normal commercial transaction.

    I’ll get that post finished eventually…..

    Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  2. Alan Levine wrote:

    John stetted well my reactions as well to this piece. In fact I have done presentations saying something similar; look at all these industries whose models have been radically revolutionized in the span of the time since the web arose; what is specila about education?

    I don’t thing education is immune to the same forces, but as John wrote above, it’s not a transactional industry like travel nor dependent on one main channel out output like print.

    So a question is, is every thing disintermediatable? Or for education, why have we not sen significant signs of it coming? I’m not advocating the education could not stand some disintermediation, but i caannot make that parallel leap.

    But I did like the thread of discussion in the comments

    Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  3. martin king wrote:

    Education system fulfils many functions – education & learning are just a small facets.

    I agree with you that changes are often viewed too simplistically and “The techno-colonization of these fields has religious undertones”

    Consider the “Shirky Princple” that “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” – substitute institutions for intermediaries.

    Monday, May 31, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  4. Keith Quinn wrote:

    I agree with the comments made above regarding the poor attempt to equate the educational process with transactional processes.

    Actually, it seems to me (focussing on the “becoming”) that the role of the teacher in the learning process has been/is being afforded the opportunity to become something much more rewarding than a conduit to channel content. It seems to me that the offer is there for teachers to become facilitators of learning, enabling learners to source learning content and support them to sythesize and create meaning from what they have researched. In other words teaching learners how to become self-directed learners; how to form and benefit from their own personal learning networks.

    As someone who has been involved in adult education for 20 years, that seems to me to be a much more rewarding activity than “filling empty vessels”. Friere got there years ago!

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink