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Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0


The world has become increasingly “flat,” as Tom Friedman has shown. Thanks to massive improvements in communications and transportation, virtually any place on earth can be connected to markets anywhere else on earth and can become globally competitive.

Compounding this challenge of demand from college-age students is the fact that the world is changing at an ever-faster pace.
Few of us today will have a fixed, single career; instead, we are likely to follow a trajectory that encompasses multiple careers.
Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0
As we move from career to career, much of what we will need to know will not be what we learned in school decades earlier. We are entering a world in which we all will have to acquire new knowledge and skills on an almost continuous basis.

It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to build enough new campuses to meet the growing global demand for higher education—at least not the sort of campuses that we have traditionally built for colleges and universities.

Nor is it likely that the current methods of teaching and learning will suffice to prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the twenty-first century.


John Seely Brown is a Visiting Scholar and Advisor to the Provost at the University of Southern California (USC) and Independent Co-Chairman of a New Deloitte Research Center.

He is the former Chief Scientist of Xerox and Director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Many of his publications and presentations are on his website (http://www.johnseelybrown.com).

Richard P. Adler is a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto and Principal of People & Technology, a research and consulting firm in Cupertino, California.


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Publication Date: 
July 27, 2011
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