Impacts and Implications of an Open Source Education Revolution

There have already been several reports around the future of education and the role of open source technology. Rather than focusing on the direct effect that the open source movement may have on the business of education, we’ll explore a few possible implications that “free” education and knowledge-share could have on the world at large.

Massive surge in collaboration technology creation:

Although you may be thinking we already have a massive collaboration technology market, the reality is people are simply repurposing social networking tools for project collaboration. In the event that the open source movement in education cripples the current university model, the market demand for deliberate collaborative technology will surge, creating new market opportunities. The acceleration rate of new technologies created through an already open source community is dizzying, to say the least. The business of education will be completely replaced, redefined, and repurposed.

The university system loses contextual relevance:

The university system in its current context is quickly approaching irrelevance as more and more college graduates either can’t find work or end up taking jobs where a college degree is not a pre-requisite. The purpose of the university system is to prepare graduates for the workforce. Today’s university prepares graduates for yesterday’s workforce and is therefore becoming contextually irrelevant.

University “towns” lose largest revenue stream:

My wife and I moved to Boone, NC several months ago and it wasn’t for the bustling economy. We moved here for a lifestyle change and the outstanding community. Outside of Appalachian State University, the job market is sparse and Boone is not unique in this regard. There are a multitude of small towns across the country dependent on revenues created by the local university. It’s hard to imagine these institutions falling apart in the wake of an open source revolution. Although, how much longer can the university last when tuitions continue to rise, graduates continue to go unemployed, and the lecture-based method of instruction grows more inapplicable by the week?

Citizens of developing nations will have real-time access to information from around the world:

Open source is built on the concept of a global commons. No one owns the IP on developed programs because the work is often created by several members of the community. This creates massive opportunity for anyone with an internet connection to draw on the global community for new information and new ideas. Imagine the possibilities for human advancement in third world countries if education was freely given, freely shared, and freely created?

Mobile governance goes global:

If peer-to-peer knowledge-share goes viral, the implications go far beyond education. Education has been the doorway to prosperity throughout history. Those with economic means or status were privileged with an education. An open source platform for education potentially tears down the economic barrier that separates the privileged from the masses. Imagine the global impact when more people are communicating, problem solving, sharing ideas, and connecting despite national and socio-economic differences? Think this is far off in the future somewhere? Think again. In 2011 Canadians began beta testing this process in their federal elections as several homemade websites were created for the purpose of vote swapping and coordination. This could very well be the end of the ballot box as we know it. An educated, highly connected global society could effectively change the power structure that has been established throughout human history.

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