How The Tools And Philosophies Of Open Source Will Save Education In The 21st Century

Kurt Bollacker (Applied Minds)
Location: F151
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Modern public education institutions and systems look and feel much like they did half a century ago. They were not so much carefully designed as accreted from our legacies of agricultural and industrial societies from the last couple centuries. This worked reasonably well for decades, but the information age’s arrival in the late 20th century resulted in a rapid, far reaching transformation of educational needs for both children and adult learners. Unfortunately, our current educational system is often unable to adapt quickly enough to these new needs, becoming less and less effective at preparing its citizens for prosperous lives. However, the information age also brought us the tools and paradigms of open source software, open data, digital information commons, and collaborative scalability. Together, they are a highly appropriate basis in which to transform education in the same manner that they transformed the world of software development. For years, though, some of the pieces to this possible were missing. Recently, thanks to efforts from the Gates Foundation, several forward-thinking educational institutions, and the greatly reduced cost of cloud-based resources, we have now reached a threshold or possibility for us to start building a new effective system of education that is ready for the 21st century. This new approach will help us gain rapid adaptability, higher quality instruction, effective customization for individual students, and lower overall cost to society. This talk will advocate for and describe the use of now existing open source/open data tools and approaches that can help us build an educational system for the 21st century.

Photo of Kurt Bollacker

Kurt Bollacker

Applied Minds

Dr. Kurt Bollacker is a computer scientist with a research background in the areas of machine learning, digital libraries, semantic networks, and electro-cardiographic modeling. He was chief scientist of Metaweb Technologies, the creator of, co-creator of the CiteSeer research tool, the technical director of the Internet Archive, and a biomedical research engineer at the Duke University Medical Center. He is currently pursuing research on long term digital archiving as the Digital Research Director at the Long Now Foundation and working on open source educational and collaborative tools.


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