Breaking the Industrialisation of Education

Breaking the Industrialisation of Education

Breaking the  Industrialisation of Education

The industrial model of education outlined by Sir Ken Robinson in his 2006 TED talk, which has had over 11 million hits, ( sketches out the idea that current education practices within institutions is stifling creativity and innovation, while wasting student talent. Robinson contends, “We are educating people out of their creativity,” (Robinson, 2006). The whole education system, he believes, is “predicated on academic ability” (2006). This leads to a “commodification of education” (Noble, 2002).

E-Learning in institutions can be thought of as the industrialisation of learning. This change is shifting the technical, social and economic environment of education. Since the 1900s learning has aimed to create a generation of qualified workers based on a “Fordism” approach to the production line of learning content. Institutions that acted as gatekeepers to the use of technology and how it impacted learning drove this system. Technology was implemented as soon as it was available and this technology has now become ubiquitous.

Education is now undergoing a revolution where institutions are adopting a “flexible manufacturing approach” where the consumer, the student, drives the institutions to respond to these pressures and creates a mass customisation of educational resources through the use of technology. However, technology is increasingly not controlled by the institution and has become socially transformational; the student controls technology and they are learning from peers and freely available content. This will have a profound impact on online learning.

The Internet is fundamentally changing the way education is delivered. Web 1.0 was a centralised hub that broadcast information to students who where basically readers of information: a transmission model. Web 2.0 is where students are consumers and creators of educational content and recently Web 3.0 or the “semantic web” which is all about “technology integration” and peer-to-peer learning. (Morris, 2011).

Thomas and Seely-Brown (2011) suggest that peer learning can be both opportune and momentary. They present a case that access to information and people has never been so simple and so extensive; students can now make connections with people who have skills that can help them manage, understand and distribute information. This interconnectedness and collaboration supports learning in new and innovative activities. The concept of meta-earning or as Powers (2011) describes it “paragogy”, relates to the peer construction of learning. Web 3.0 allows social interactions through mobile technologies that will empower the student. The institutions will no longer control the learning. Students will take responsibility for what they learn when they learn and how they learn. This shift in responsibilities effects course development, assessment practices, record keeping and leaner support.

However this creates new problems in terms of quality, credibility and reliability of the content produced. The quality of content housed on the web is inconsistent (Carr, 2010) and lends itself to plagiarism. There are many different ways that people are creating user generated content that educates not only themselves but also other learners around the world. This use of web 3.0 to create, organise and share “mashable” content has democratised education and freed it from the 19th Century learning system.



Carr, N. (2010). The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Retrieved from: hl=en&lr=&id=AsZ1R3l96FEC&oi=fnd&pg=PP9&dq=The+Shallows:+What+the+Internet+Is+Doing+to+Our+Brains.&ots=34bia2Jk2r&sig=hAf-6wuGx8IPDaoRWio1B2L-pFU#v=onepage&q=The%20Shallows%3A%20What%20the%20Internet%20Is%20Doing%20to%20Our%20Brains.&f=false

Levidow, Les (2002). Marketizing higher education: neoliberal strategies and counter-strategies. In:
Robins, Kevin and Webster, Frank eds. The Virtual University? Knowledge, Markets and Management.
Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 227–248.
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Morris, R. (2011). Web 3.0: Implications for Online Learning. TechTrends, 55(1), 42-46. doi: 10.1007/s11528-011-0469-942
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Noble, D. F. (2002). Technology and the commodification of higher education. Monthly Review, 53(10), 26-40.
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Powers, L., Alhussain, R., Averbeck, C., & Warner, A. (2012). PERSPECTIVES ON DISTANCE EDUCATION AND SOCIAL MEDIA.Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(4), 241-245,270-271.
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