Around the years from 2002 to 2005, while Yuanliang was working on his research in the graduate school, he was greatly disappointed with what was going on with elearning research and development in the academic and industry. Most people are not solving problems, instead they are creating problems.
Greatly disappointed, Yuanliang turned to the grassroots alternative education efforts in America, which are very rich in practice. There is a lot of nutrition there. To name a few, John Tayor Gatto, Sudbury Valley School, Summerhill, other democratic/free schools, and the whole unschooling movement. This is a big treasure. Anyone who is serious about working on online education has to turn to this resource. They really understand learning and education. The only thing we need to do is to spread their models to more people and to the adult world. So we need people who understand software to understand learning/education.
So the great obstacles of online education are:
- Teachers and professors in the education school cannot provide any guidance with their research because what they are doing is actually anti-learning and anti-knowledge
- Tech people working on online education don’t have much experience in learning and education, and they don’t know who to turn to
- The real people who have a lot of practice in real education get ignored by the mainstream and treated like freaks. And they lack tech skills to push their models to a massive level.
So for people interested in working on online education, they need:
- Have rich experiences in learning many different things (bigger ones)
- Absorb nutrition from the grassroots education community and gain experiences in various areas of teaching
- Understand software, and use it as a tool to explore learning/education. Social science can be best explored with software. This is also the research methodology here in Open Source Learning.
Last I want to put a special emphasis here that our exploration and experimentation have demonstrated that self-reflection plays a vital role in people’s learning, and how people can easily cultivate self-reflection skills with a self-reflection tool. Self-reflection totally turns people who have been accustomed to school-way of learning (e.g. fixed, instigated) into a self-driven self-initiated real life learning. It totally opens up their learning. People start to notice various knowledge embedded in their daily lives and start to learn very flexibly and freely. It is just amazing to see such kind of change in people. Just by using the notebook powered by Knowledge Engine, and doing simple editing operations on it each day, they are able to train their self-reflection skills. If you are curious, you are welcome to try self-reflection on our self-learning platform.
Please be reminded that this self-learning platform is a research project instead of a product. The purpose of the platform is to demonstrate the potential of Knowledge Engine. So there are a lot of features there (although we grouped them well and put some into advanced features that you have to turn it on in your settings configuration) and the user interface might not be best tuned for prettiness (but definitely tuned as best as we can for ease of use). Although there are a lot of features still in development, we think the current features implemented are able to demonstrate what self-reflection created content can accomplish. We intend to always keep this platform a free and open public platform so everyone can try out self-learning for oneself. We will also provide the feature to allow you to download all your notes easily.
I hope our research work can be a start to usher the flourishing of self-reflection tools, which will be fundamental for the change in learning/education. And these self-reflection tools will also start the age of consciousness software. With email, webpage, google, facebook, even with mobile internet and cloud computing, we are still at the beginning of this software revolution, which is a process of digitization of human world. We have been lingering around long enough not entering the core of that digitization. Now let’s march into the core! Let’s usher the era of consciousness software! Is that web3.0 or web4.0? I don’t know. But it certainly is the deepest stage of digitization of human world.