OpenEd week 9

Week 9: Elective Reading Synopses David’s recommended books:

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Benkler)

Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm (Benkler)

The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (Easterly)

An overview of the book

Chapter with the title “Educated for What?” (…wanted to learn more)

Education level is constantly presented as one of the principal determinants of economic growth, yet Easterly finds little empirical evidence for this correlation. 

The author shows that in Africa, education level of the 90’s are much higher than those in the 70’s, yet efforts to achieve economic growth in this region of the world have failed in the majority of the cases. 

One of the reasons Easterly puts forth is that advances in education must be accompanied by adequate productive capital and the capacity to absorbe new technologies.  The author points out that the supply of knowledge is higher than the demand and cannot be absorbed.

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Easterly)

The World Is Flat (Updated and Expanded): A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Friedman)

A summary of the book

My points: I was rather impressed by the fact that Friedman identifies three broad categories of workers who will have job security in the flat world. Synthesizers, explainers, versatilists and explores the “right stuff”that the educational requirements need to survive in the flattened world. He recommends building right-brain skills, or those that cannot be duplicated by a computer. Friedman believes that globalization serves more to enrich and preserve culture than to destroy it, as each person is given their own voice and vehicle of expression through podcasts, websites and so on.

Enough food for thought…

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (Lessig)

Free Culture (Lessig)

Lessig’s PowerPoint Presentation of the book

Lessig-Valenti debate (mp3)

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Prahalad)

An overview of the book

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (Sachs)

Development as Freedom (Sen)

Add other recommended books here:

Wikinomics (Tapscott, Williams)

Beyond the classroom

SIe-L30marzo 2007: a national Workshop

QUESTIONS: What can the open education movement learn from the book you chose to read? Elaborate on at least three points. Which of the ideas presented in the book did you find hardest to believe or agree with? Why?

My three points from Free Culture come along with Lessig’s refrain:

1. Creativity and innovation always builts on the past

2. The past always tries to control the creativity that builts on it

3. Free societies enable the future by limiting the power of the past

Estabilished companies have an interest in excluding future competitors and claim for extentions of copyright from copying copies to derivate works mainly because of technology.

How about education?

No one can do to Disney what Walt Disney did to the Grimm Brothers.

Well, may this derivative work, from the famous Cinderella, created by school-teachers uploaded and shared on line?

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Silvana!

    Three items:
    1. Thank you for posting a notice about your presentation on OERs on David Wiley’s site. Even though it is no longer a requirement, I will likely present something to CIDE at the UofToronto (comparative, international development education group) – and found yours a very useful resource!!

    2. You wrote: “The author shows that in Africa, education level of the 90’s are much higher than those in the 70’s, yet efforts to achieve economic growth in this region of the world have failed in the majority of the cases.”

    a) I haven’t read this book (I read his other one) – but I’m suspicious already. My specialty is on Aid and Education Policy in East Africa. Education in the 1990s in several E. African countries was WORSE than in the 1970s – by far! (E.g. Through a big push, Tanzania achieved universal primary education – of low quality – in 1977 – but then slipped to only about 70% of kids receiving primary education in the 1990s – of similarly low quality).

    b) In the last 10 years, economic growth has been quite substantial – averaging between 5-10% each year – which is high compared to Western countries – albeit the starting point is quite low. What has NOT improved substantially is the gap between the higher & lower income quintiles within the country.

    3. You wrote:
    The author points out that the supply of knowledge is higher than the demand and cannot be absorbed.
    – hmm, lots of development people would debate this as well…often a brain drain occurs – as the opportunities and pay in western countries are better than staying home. Would you say that this is a lack of demand, or rather that although the demand is there, the pay simply isn’t – especially in the social service sectors.? Thoughts?

    I do like Easterly in general – he has a lot of good critiques, but I find that although his opines are great in the area of business development, agriculture, etc., they don’t quite fit the areas of international development in education and health.

  2. Hi, Megan.

    I’d like to know more about Easterly’s opinions about education and also read your post on the book of his you’ve been reading. As you have seen almost everything in my blog is a ‘work in progress’. I’m bombarded by suggestions but can’t have enough elements to built a personal point of view at present.

    Thanks for your appreciation of ScribaLAB 1.0 (still Beta version). The CMS has been opened to anybody who wanted to test it with a simple registration for two years (since I discussed it for my Master Degree in Digital Writing with the University of Florence) and yet I’m convinced that it is not enough in the road to a complete openness and localization of an OER.
    I’ve been adding tools such as ScribaPodcast and SixThinkingHATS forum and a special section for teachers to create collaborative LO on the fly.
    However, something more should be done to re-design the CMS and I still don’t know what that something could be.
    Would you mind telling me more about your CIDE presentation?

  3. David Wiley wrote in his post for this week: “I think all students in instructional technology programs need to learn to use the tools of our trade. Not just to do designs; not just to do evaluations. Our students need to learn to program. If all you can do is sit around and make lists, plans, and have ideas you’re not nearly as useful to the world as someone who can do those things AND whip out a functioning prototype.”

    I strongly agree with David even if I should admit that I myself have to learn to program 😦

    Everything I design on paper is turned into a functioning prototype by my colleague Gianluca, a former student of mine.

    By the way I’m a teacher of English Literature and he has got a degree in Computer Sciences.

  4. […] The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (Easterly) Commented on by: Silvana […]

  5. […] The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (Easterly) Commented on by: Silvana […]

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