Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that if information is available more and more people will tend to use it. I love that universities are starting to try to put at least some of their information and course materials out there for the public to use. (Of course, in most cases we, that is, the public, paid for these materials already). Let a hundred flowers blossom, as Mao apparently said.
This piece on free online courses (“11 Ways to Find Free Classes Online“) shows that there is a lot of this material available now, and more is surely on the way. My only gripe is that too often these sorts of things intersect with two unfortunate myths. The first myth is that technology will be able to replace teachers; the second, closely related myth is that of the autodidact.
People can and do teach themselves, of course, but for most of us most of the time teachers– and often classmates– are an essential part of the mix that leads to effective learning. Teaching, despite what the right wing often implies, is in fact a skill like any other, and not something that just anyone can do because they “care about young people.” Call that the Schwarzenegger myth.