on the napsterization of education


Another post on how education is undergoing (or will very soon be forced to undergo) a napster-like disruption/transformation/eruption.

But napster didn't disrupt music. It disrupted the previous business model for distributing recorded music content. Musicians still exist. People still write/play/perform/record/buy/download music. The workflow has changed. The people who control the pipelines have changed.

Digital technologies are disrupting the current business model(s) for distributing educational content. And that's a great thing. $500 worth of required textbooks for a single course is just plain messed up. Academic journals charging researchers hundreds or thousands of dollars to gain access to research funded by public institutions, also messed up.

But these technologies aren't disrupting education itself. That's up to the teachers, students, and administrators. They're the ones who need to figure out what to make of the transformative technologies and with having free (or nearly free) access to content and each other.

Falling back to calling it "napsterization" - as if that is a magic recipe for disruption - is just a lazy narrative. Yes. Things are changing. But it's not going to be a relatively instant bit-shift from Old Education to New Education through the power of modern chemistry.

Education is not just about granting access to content. If it was, then we'd close every school and just let people go to the library. Education is about the activities we do with each other in our various roles, to build/connect/try/experiment/explore/create/etc… - these are things that build on content, but content itself is not sufficient for education. Music is different, because unless you're a musician yourself, music is about consuming content (whether pre-recorded or listening to live performances).

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