[extropy-chat] Education monopolies [was: Education in 2030]

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sat Jan 27 22:03:43 UTC 2007

I was struck recently by:

"Professors to Ban Students From Citing Wikipedia" [1].

Now the question arises is the information in Wikipedia "bad" or is it
simply incompletely edited?  How can students cite the "current" literature,
much of which may be unavailable (distributed in many cases by monopolistic
publishers but paid for by your tax $) at colleges whose libraries lack
subscriptions to "everything" [2]?

If the Wikipeida articles are the current "state of knowledge" (because
people writing them may have access to the best sources), then the question
arises as to why Wikipedia citations should be banned?  I would note that I
believe both MIT and Stanford are moving in the direction of allowing public
access to all of their courses.  That would mean that you could get an MIT
or Stanford education *without* attending MIT or Stanford.  So the question
that lurks in the back of my mind is whether teachers (professors) are
concerned in the long run with one-to-more-than-"many" replacing the
classical "one-to-many" models.  If I can get the information online from
Wikipedia or MIT or Stanford why should one spend hours and hours
redistilling something that someone else has already distilled?  One can
argue that learning to analyze scientific thought processes has value (which
is why things in Wikipedia should be accepted on a "preliminary" basis) or
that hearing things directly from the professor in a classroom has value,
but I can't help but believe there isn't a fair amount of questioning among
various educators -- "What if Wikipedia and the staffs of MIT and Stanford
can replace us?"  In which case one is dealing with efforts to maintain ones
"monopoly" on education rather than legitimate academic concerns.


1. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/26/1752250
2. I am fortunate that over the last 15 years I have had access to libraries
that have access to nearly everything.
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