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Guest Thinkers

Education Recoded: Why the Title

The title to the new collaborative blog is “Education Recoded.” We picked this title for a variety of reasons, but most importantly we feel it is an apt description of the essential task facing education in this century. So, here are 8 reasons why we like this title.

1. Everything in education needs to be recoded. Perhaps even the term “education” as a description of the formal learning system, needs reconsideration. We must put everything back on the table and build a learning system that works for the digital, global world in which we now live. The scope of this task is immense, but the motivation for trying is even more.

2. Code is a flexible, yet fundamental term. It can mean several different things. There is the Morse code, the genetic code, the area code, the HTML code, the dress code, the QR code, the criminal code, and now there is even “Source Code” the movie. You get the picture. Code is a word that describes a meaning system underlying structures and relationships. Code, generally, is a broadly defined operating system for, well, all things. We, in particular, are interested in that code as it is related to the learning system, or what we traditionally call education.

3. It’s important to keep in mind that “recoding” does not mean throwing everything out. From a software standpoint, every time a new version of a product is released, it builds upon the code in the previous release. Keep in mind that we have been “coding” education for millennia. When Plato wrote “The Republic” he articulated a learning code, many elements of which are still in use today. Horace Mann and the other early pioneers of the American system recoded private education systems for public application. John Dewey and countless others have made modifications to that basic code over the years. In all of those instances, the code built upon the previous work and extended it by deleting some parts and adding some others. This is not to say that either the code has been evolving in a generally positive manner or that we can simply continue to extend most of the code going forward. But, the task of recoding is not the task of completely revolting against the current system.

4. For those techno-legal geeks out there, the term “Code” has a special meaning articulated by Lawrence Lessig. We fully intend to convey all of that meaning. If you have not read it, and we recommend that you do, you can download it for free here. We’ll likely return to elements of this theme in the future.

5. We actually intend to release code here. Next week, Justin will be releasing new model legislation for online learning. We would also like to collectively build new model code for AUPs, design-thinking around learning, cyberbullying, 1-1 implementation, and lots of other cool stuff. When we come across or invent new and useful elements of the recoded learning system, we’ll share them with you here.

6. Code, fundamentally, is a platform. And, platforms are useful for communicating and doing things. Most importantly, platforms can be extended. That is our hope for this project. The task of recoding learning has to be all of our tasks, and we hope just to be a gathering place for that work.

7. Code is something tangible. It’s real and people can imagine actually changing it. We wanted readers to get the impression immediately that [insert blog topic here] can actually be done. With hard work, late nights, and Starbucks it’s possible and we could move forward with that new element to the learning system. Too many words are devoted to things that are not closely tied to being tangible changes to the learning system.

8. We like it. Deal with it.

Please don’t just enjoy this blog. Please help us in the generational task of recoding our learning system yourself. It has been done countless times in the past and can be done again now. This is possible. Yes, we can recode education. Let’s roll.


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