Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Knowledge at the Speed of Light

During yesterday's debate at NECC, Gary Stager commented on online education, saying,"The concept of delivery is itself the enemy of learning." This brought to mind the tagline once used to "brand" Connecticut's high-speed education network (CEN): "Knowledge at the Speed of Light." When I began working for CEN in 2007, it struck me that this tagline ought to be deleted at the speed of light for multiple reasons. First, the network, while it is robust and powerful, does not and cannot deliver knowledge. No network can. Knowledge simply isn't delivered. Knowledge is developed and constructed by learners through information processing, interactions, connections, experiences, and reflection. Second, as any good educator knows, the learning process ought not be a race. The development of knowledge, and ultimately higher order thinking skills, isn't about speed; it's about breadth, depth, quality, and endurance. Certainly, fiber optics improve the speed of access to information and tools for communication, collaboration, and creativity. However, the objective of greater bandwidth in education is to support the learning process, not to hasten it.
For some, the "Knowledge at the Speed of Light" tagline is not a big deal. Apparently it sounded catchy at one point and made its way onto lots of letterhead. I, however, have been cropping it out wherever I encounter it.
I'd like to see this amazing network continue to thrive, provide unprecedented bandwidth to schools and libraries, and contribute to the advancement of 21st-century learning in Connecticut... just without those six words connoting "fast knowledge delivery" on the page header.

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