Not only is web fluency is a requirement for success in most modern work and social environments, but language of networks and social structures are increasingly used in how we talk about the offline learning experience as well.
The paradigm shift in higher education in the direction of active learner-centered engagement and empowerment parallels other societal changes of the new millennium. As David Weinberger puts it in his article on A Unified Theory of the Web, the internet is “is changing our understanding of what puts things together in the first place.” Making an analogy to education, perhaps the classroom can be thought of as “many small pieces loosely joined” rather than in the traditional structure of givers and receivers of knowledge. Increasing openness, diversity and inclusion can do nothing but increase the quality of the experience for all involved.
Within individual disciplines, the internet analogy can be taken further. According to Roy Fielding, the internet is a system to “interconnect information networks across organizational boundaries.” The revolution in interdisciplinary education similarly aims to transcend barriers in order to both enrich academic scholarship and lead to new advances that bridge traditional disciplinary silos. One step further, and we discover ways to better communicate esoteric ideas with an informed and curious public.
Wikipedia itself can serve as an interesting example of public communication of various topics. Jon Undell shows how “a loose worldwide federation of volunteers” exerts progressive evolutionary improvement of open-source articles. Like natural selection, he comments on a particular edit at 2:47, “that wasn’t very successful, and it doesn’t survive long”. Gone are the days of individual dominance of knowledge. We just have to figure out how to work with this information in strategic, constructive ways, and teach students to do the same.