Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Education

Social Media has spawned off many great knowledge sharing on the Internet. Today, we can find all sorts of free information, including numerous recipes, How to Guides, reviews and other useful tips.

Many things that we know about in the past like encyclopedias, travel guides, and other information books we used to get may be going extinct as faster and more updated information are available online.

As Blogs and Wikis are becoming more main stream, vast knowledge can be found and searched online. With the progress of Web 2.0, the technology is ripe to share experiences, knowledge and information freely, and I feel getting valuable feedback and comments is very important as it furthers the learning process.

I do put up a lot of information I learn or come across on the Internet on this blog, and I share my presentations as I feel learning too is a 2 way process. No matter how expert you think you are on a particular subject, (Even if you have a PHD) there may be other good opinions you can learn from.

I read this article on today and was inspired by the great ideas of sharing lecture notes online and forming study groups and sharing knowledge and information.

Why does education need to be expensive and exclusive?

There is a saying that the rich want to stay rich and powerful, and by making knowledge exclusive, they can prevent others from moving up the social ladder. I agree that Educational resources should be as free as possible, and all with the capacity to learn should not be excluded.

In Singapore, there seem to be an economy for selling "Past Exam Papers" from the different schools, and most of these are not very cheap. I find this process and system rather opportunistic as something like past years exam papers can essentially be free information on the Internet, but the opportunistic companies decide to waste paper and print these past exam papers and sell them for a profit.

Though many may argue that in Social Media, much of the information is unmonitored and there are tons of spam and junk, I still feel that there is a good chance, through twitter and other form of Social Media, a blog with good informational value will still be easily found as people recommend it to their friends.

Thanks to technology, one of the core functions of a university - distributing information through its professors - is no longer entirely in its control. It’s a potentially unsettling development for universities and professors, and it has found its way into court, as professors take on commercial note services and grapple with how much to limit the recording and even filming of their lectures. And as it grows easier to publish online and as more and more people gain ready access to the Web, the issue seems likely to only grow.

Some may say, “it’s very hard to keep control of material that finds its way onto the Web.”

I feel however, a good and strong university, when they provide free lecture notes, will actually enhance their brand image as they show thought leadership. The experience you get and the knowledge you learn when you interact with fellow students and lecturers is much more enriching that the simple lecture notes you receive.

As with a free recipe for cocktails, the best way to taste it is to go to a bar with an experienced bartender, even when you have the exact recipe.

-- Robin Low

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