Are knowledge and learning proprietary?

After my post about the Chronicle article yesterday I started to think about the perception that appears to permeate the educational "industry" (from K-12 through higher ed); a paradigm which treats knowledge and learning in an almost proprietary sense. When I say proprietary I mean two things: 1) that knowledge and learning are accepted and recognized by our culture as occurring primarily, if not solely, in a formal environment and transmitted by a particularly small subset of that culture and 2) that curricular content is "owned" by the institution and/or its members.

This dogma is being challenged furiously by what has been termed informal learning – not only are we no longer place-based learners (then again have we truly ever been) but our access to information and our ability to learn from a higher quality of social network has come to mean that we no longer place formal learning on the pedestal upon which it has so long resided. And as George Siemens illustrates in his theory of connectivism, between the sheer quantity of human knowledge and the impact of technology on our ability to access, process and remix that knowledge to create new understanding our culture is at a crossroads. If the education industry desires to remain competitive and viable, it must adopt a new business model rather than a model based on knowledge scarcity and knowledge as a commodity. The divide is growing, and our educational industry must rise to the challenge.

It brings to mind the lyrics from a song by one of my favorite groups, the Glengarry Bhoys.

"I fear that everything is changing.

I fear the world is spinning, around and round and upside down.

And I fear my ship is leaving and I can’t get it off the ground."

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