Difference between revisions of "Worldwide and higher lifelong education"

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Higher and Worldwide Lifelong Education


As the artificial walls of our great universities come tumbling down through technology, and as electronic networks expand the reach of university campuses, the range of influence of higher education will increase. The teaching of the best professors…will be available...to anyone who wants to learn. - John Sculley

John Seely Brown (2001) that "learning is a remarkably social process" that occurs as the result "of a social framework that fosters learning" and not primarily as the result of `teaching.' It requires, especially in the development of new media to support learning, that "we must move far beyond the traditional view of teaching as delivery of information." (Howard Rheingold in Smart Mobs: The next social revolution; transforming cultures and communities in the age of instant access, 2003)

The World Bank has since 1972 spent over thirty billion dollars in efforts to reduce poverty in the developing world, with little achieved because of a fundamental need for education before other projects will work. Developed nations spend $4-5,000 a year per child, the developing world $150 to $200 per child. The only solution would be to use the Internet to provide essential learning resources to desperately poor areas and schools, especially wherever existing schools are inadequate or do not exist. (Swahn 2001)

As humanity moves into a time of global education, planners need blueprints for lifelong educational systems and structures so that new possibilities can be examined to provide adequate education for everyone on earth in the 21st century.

UNESCO proposed that each higher education institution should define its mission according to the present and future needs of society. It should be conscious of the fact that lifelong learning is essential for any country or region to reach the necessary level of sustainable and environmentally sound economic and social development, cultural creativity nourished by better knowledge and understanding of the cultural heritage, higher living standards, and internal and international harmony and peace, based on human rights, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect.

Today, the driving force of lifelong education presents underlying ideas:

1) UNESCO and the International Telecommunications Union have declared 'education for all' as a goal, and even though it may take decades to achieve that objective, much is now underway to accomplish 'lifelong learning for all'. The development for everyone in the world of adequate lifelong learning, needed for the information age, may require large-scale research and experimentation of a scope--like that spent on health and NASA--which humanity is not prepared to fund. So we need to examine less expensive efforts that can be accomplished through the Internet.

2) Public ignorance about learning in schools and the wrong perception of the low value of learning in daily life as seen on television has been noted. "Commercial society seems to discourage learning and encourage ignorance--focusing more on entertainment- in our everyday settings. Our society seems unable to accommodate multiple perspectives". Spector (2002)

(3) Planners should acknowledge their fundamental ignorance, that all of us really know very little, at least beyond our own specialization. Even the greatest scientists and scholars, however expert they are in their limited area, need to recognize how little they yet know. Perhaps we have moved from the childish era of the human race into an adolescent era, and one characteristic of adolescence is being `know it alls' who do know yet recognize our need for humility in the face of a vast outer and inner space universes humans are only beginning to explore. The antidote to human ignorance is not defensive arguments about our positions, but a readiness for much more research and experimentation.

4) On technology for global lifelong learning even in the industrialized world, we must look ahead at least two decades since educators need to plan now for what is coming or be swamped by it. In these early years of the 21st century the useful thing about many new technologies may be that they are forcing educators to re-think what they are doing and to get to work on larger-scale holistic research on learning. It is important that researchers use and develop technologies that can best help learning at all of life' stages to achieve stated and future goals and they need to see where they must revise and update those goals.

From these ideas fundamental issues raise:

Is education only for an elite?

Shall the poor continue to get poorer, proving profits by very low-cost, even slave-type labor? Or can the universities lead out in creating a global learning system, providing education for all, to create vast new markets that can improve the whole global economy, as online skills training help the poor get adequate incomes to enter the marketplace?

Many who begin to look at possible futures for global lifelong learning are frustrated. Can integrated, holistic, well-planned alternatives be proposed as a place to begin discussion and planning?

Are entirely new learning theories and global structures required?


Financing of higher education as a public service

The funding of higher education requires both public and private resources. The role of the state remains essential in this regard. The diversification of funding sources reflects the support that society provides to higher education and must be further strengthened to ensure the development of higher education, increase its efficiency and maintain its quality and relevance. Public support for higher education and research remains essential to ensure a balanced achievement of educational and social missions.

The accelerating explosion of knowledge

The vast amount of data and information will challenge all the world’s universities, working in collaboration, to manage oceans of data, to organize it, to transform it into knowledge and wisdom and into useful learning. Perhaps something marvelous is-in a decade or two-going to come out the work reported, for example, at the conferences of the American Association for Information Science, new ways to coordinate the vast data seen in the information explosion.

The accelerating explosion of technologies

Piece by piece, the necessary physical elements are fitting into place that could make the dream of universal access to all human knowledge become reality. Ever smaller and cheaper computers, wireless internet connections, huge linked databases, and widely available standardized software are all helping break down the barriers of time and expense that once kept individuals isolated and communities in conflict. If enough humans are willing to cooperate, to value lasting benefit over short-term profit, and prefer challenging activity to easy entertainment, the worldwide lifelong education may truly help transform global society.

Digital Wireless Broadband

Communication speed a hundred times faster than available at the turn of the century should also make it possible to greatly reduce costs of education delivery. Combinations of technologies, such as satellites and new smart digital radio connections, can bring the World Wide Web, and whatever succeeds it, to educators and researchers anywhere in the world at affordable cost. Indeed, digital wireless radio may well be the more affordable and better way to make possible the active participation of developing world scientists in the global research community as well as making it possible to bring adequate education to everyone on the planet.

Global distance/learning

The international electronic learning distance or distributed education accelerates. In June 2000 the World Bank announced that it was taking seriously the likelihood that global electronic education is the best antidote for eliminating poverty in the developing world. Already the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept 19, 2003, reported a survey that 57 percent (of higher education institutions) said that Internet-based courses were already at least equivalent to lecture hall counterparts in educational quality.

Collective intelligence

The mobilization of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of scholarly and scientific minds in partnership with technologies like the internet may enable and direct the crucial partnership between human minds and the artificial intelligence of machines needed to generate worldwide lifelong education.


The cost of worldwide lifelong education

Despite forthcoming successful ways to reduce drastically the costs of exchanging courses and lectures, some countries still cannot afford even the initial demonstrations and experimentation; and evidently many national education officials in developing countries are not yet convinced that distance learning is worth its sacrificial cost.

The population explosion

Soon half of the world’s population is going to be under age 20, and already there are a billion young people who ought to have higher education. Globally by the year 2000 there were more than 160 million children without access to primary schooling simply because of population growth. In much of sub-Saharan Africa and in many low income countries elsewhere, the provision of universal primary education for rapidly growing numbers of children remains a long-term challenge.


Alongside each of us in this space are more than six billion others, including illiterate people in the rain forest of Brazil, and some of the most disadvantaged, underprivileged people in the world in Africa.

Unwilligness to learn

A recent study reported that young people in Spain are no longer in the habit of reading. More than 90% of the students surveyed reported that they read only when required to do so. Without the desire to read and learn, we can get no help from any information system, however rich and easy to use it is. The fact that very few young people read any more (statistics in McLemee 2004) is in part the result of overpowering technologies, such as gaming, and is also a cause for their increasing use in education.

Need of new teachers

The UNESCO 2002 "Education for All Monitoring Report" said that only 87 countries might be able to meet the `education for all' goal by 2015. By 2002 UNESCO reported that many countries with the largest populations were actually falling further behind. It was estimated that 35 million new teachers would be needed. So we ask how automated tutoring systems on the Internet may be used where there are not teachers or where teachers need online help because they are not well educated.

"Learning in our society is bleak"

How a social revolution in learning can be encouraged when learning in our society is bleak? There is a need for a renaissance in thinking where learning is willingly and willfully embedded in every activity of our culture.

Software for human/Machine collaboration

Many educators feel swamped with too much inadequate software, lacking time to examine all education packages themselves, yet dissatisfied with choices others make for them. Dertouzos (2000) proposed that computers-that are not yet `human-centered'-seriously limit educational uses of the Internet and Web.

Information overload

Claire’s school offers instruction in technology, provides her with her own computer and with Internet access to any information she needs or to any course that her school does not offer. She suffers, however, with serious panacea overload, caused by technology that is too complex (designed by engineers and not primarily for learning) and by a volume of online resources that are overwhelming.


- Education is transferring information into the mind of the passive learner often by memorization.

- Education thinking creatively, communicating, learning and making decisions in new and technology-empowered ways.

- Education is an expensive sector to maintain for countries. The quality of learning in many developing nations declined with the deterioration of the economy and the presence of huge foreign debt.

- Information technology will make it possible to provide learning and needed skills for all. Technologies together with a global distance learning network may be the best and most affordable way to bring lifelong quality learning to many of the world’s deprived areas.


Parker Rossman- former vice president of the Global/Pacific Electronic University Consortium.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


- The ancient Greeks first envisioned the "comprehensive organization of all knowledge", and some of their dream came true. It began with writing- collecting oral wisdom and tradition in great manuscript collections like the ancient Library of Alexandria.

- Later, the Middle Age saw the founding of universities, where masters of lore and rhetoric could gather in relative safety to extend and spread their knowledge among dedicated students by means of books and lectures. The invention of movable type and the subsequent spread of printing made information cheaper and more portable in the form of books, pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers.

- Then the eighteenth century saw the first attempts to systematically assemble important technical and scientific information in uniform bound volumes as a universal printed reference or encyclopedia. Since the industrial revolution, ever growing-demand for knowledge has continued to push learning into new dimensions. Where speech and printed text were once enough to answer most questions satisfactorily, tomorrow’s learning materials need to be diversified to include new media.

- At the turn of the twenty-first century, learners could watch a video tape, or downloaded video files of a lecture or the demonstration of a technical procedure, then replay segments to help them master difficult material.

- The end of the twentieth century was also a time comparable to the twelfth century when the rise of the university in Western Europe helped enable the Renaissance. Now to be realistic, in examining possibilities for learning for all, we must admit that in the foreseeable future there will be some who are especially privileged in education; such those whose geographical location provides access to a resident campus, and those who are leading out ahead in research and experimentation. Not every student in the world can work alongside an Einstein, yet won't it be possible for any gifted learner, anywhere to attend a virtual campus for possibilities not yet adequately foreseen or imagined? The milieu of learning for decades ahead could depend on the technical architecture adopted for the emerging mobile and pervasive infrastructure" to be developed in the next decade or so.

Web Resources:




(There are tons of reports about the future of education and technologies!)



(need to be a member to get acess to materials but seems very useful for our project)




(Alphabetical index of web links related to the subject of Higher and worldwide lifelong education)

'''''Sources of this work:'''''

Rossman P. (2004). Cosmopedia: Tomorrow’s World of Learning. The futurist. May-June 2004.

http://ecolecon.missouri.edu/globalresearch/. Last accessed 2004/11/25