The Fostering Learning in the Networked World publication comes across as a prophetic warning suggesting America has a very limited time in which the National Science Foundation (NSF, Authors of the report) can stimulate research and development which will lead to a utopian future of cyberlearning. Cyberlearning is what they describe as the use of networked technologies to support learning “from K to grey”.
It seems that “the nation is at a crossroads” in which the “Communities of cyberlerning researchers and practitioners” led by the NSF are the only ones who can “address the global problems of war and peace, economics, poverty, health and the environment”.
Trying to get past the apocalyptic scare-mongering and Sci-Fi words, the paper seems to suggest an increase in focusing on the benefits of using networks, specifically the web for collaborating and sharing data across time (eg a lifelong eportfolio system) and space. It also aims to bring together existing repositories of data and create a common cyberlearning platform.
Despite my frustration with the way the report has been written, I generally agree with many of the suggestions although I doubt they will be able to develop a cyberlearning platform which suits everybody’s needs and will be readily taken up by everybody. This is because a one size fits all approach doesn’t work and dispite the urgency of their manifesto, developments in the use of network technologies for learning and research are evolving in a number of different ways. I would suggest a better solution would be to concentrate on evolving a shared set of protocols which would allow different systems to communicate with each other.