George C Carroll III

Campus College Chair, University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus


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Have we entered the WWW (Whatever, Whenever, Wherever) era of education? Will the promise of "education for all" finally become a reality?

With the explosion of learning online - including access to thousands of TED/TEDx Talks, resources like iTunesU, and many others, will we finally see global education become a reality?

  • Feb 8 2012: Free education is certainly achievable now, I'd say. You can look up anything on the internet, listen to talks as you said, or find very cheap classes online. I think the WWW era of education is very close to happening, if not already here.
    • Feb 13 2012: Hi Julia, what if they do not have the internet? What if, they do not have a pot to piss in? Do these humans give a crap, about the internet? With respect, I know what you are saying. :)
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    Feb 8 2012: I am homeschooling my 7 yr old son, and it's amazing what happens when I get out of the way and let him acquire information on his own after I've provided an enriching environment. While we are not truly "unschoolers" in homeschooling parlance, I am starting to see more and more value in the method.

    We are still learning how we learn together, as we've only been homeschooling since June, but so far it's been wonderful and interesting.
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      Feb 8 2012: It's nice to see a homeschooling mom on TED.

      Your perspective is valuable.

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        Feb 8 2012: Thanks! TED is quite valuable in finding new topics to present and new ways of presenting them! My son knows the "TED sound" and asks what I'm watching every time a video begins!
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          Feb 8 2012: If you haven't seen it yet, and want to be inspired as your sons teacher, I invite to watch the following two scientists' talks on TED:

          Clifford Stoll-Everything and Kary Mullis-Celebrates the Experiment

          They are inspiring, especially since science is a challenging topic to teach.

          Also for us women, there are a couple of talks that are very touching and I find myself watching them over and over:

          Brene Brown-Power of Vulnerability and Louie Schwartzberg-Nature, Beauty, Gratitude

          and if you are in a pickle about making choices:

          Barry Schwartz-Paradox of Choice is a great talk.

          And of course, Jill Taylors talk on her stroke is a wonderful wonderful talk.

          The symphony of science site even includes an exerpt from it in one of their musical pieces.

          I keep a list of my favorites on hand to recommend to other TEDsters and to my friends and family.

          See you around the site Stephanie......let me know if you enjoyed the talks.

  • Feb 8 2012: Education can be provided free, nut people will opt for ,free or otherwise, the education only if it is going to make any meaningful impact in thier day-to-day life. For example, a mid-day meal was thought of an incentive for the parents as well as the student to come back to the school. There were many families for whom that was, whatever be the contenet, a square meal for that child. But children were observed to come in only at he meal time and would go back to whatever activity they were doing, mostly trying to earn something for the family.
    Th eGovernments have mony to spend for mid-day meals , but not for decent teachers, adequate rooms and other infrastucture!
    Similarly online learning also has still remained at the fringe even in the urban area, becuase of inadequate spread of the connectivity nad teaching aid resources and lacjk of awareness , and hence, accepatnce , by the teaching community.
    SInce ensuring the education to really reach all is still a distant reality, online eductaion will have to pass through a few more hurdles.
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      Feb 8 2012: Ashok,

      I may be wrong, but I think that what Mr Carroll is implying with this conversation is that many, who lacked the ability to be exposed to education on any kind of level before, now have free access to it in many parts of the world.

      For example, the other day someone here on TED shared that even though he could not go back to college for a graduate degree, he was using the kahn academy website to learn about economics, which is a passion of his.

      I think you are correct, not everyone on the planet has access to this technology, but it is probably a matter of time. Even here in big cities, not everyone can own a computer or have internet in their home, but, you can have a free library card and use the internet for free at the library.

      I enjoyed reading your comment and you have educated me on education in your part of the world. Thank you Ashok.
      • Feb 9 2012: There is no doubt about internet being the one single factor which has made the Age of Information to move at a far higher speed than was ever imagined.
        It does provide a huge amount of information, lierally at your finger tips.
        This is the peculiar dichotomy of our current times - the gap between HAVEs and HAVENOTs, at the respective extreme ends - does keep on widening whereas the aim of all developments of technology is to narrow down that gap.
        India may appear to be a 'devloping' country from most of the materialistic yardsticks. The [so called] formal education is one of such yardsticks. But it does not lack in the uncommonness of the common intuitive learning abilities [I am sure none of the human races would be falling short on this count]. The ease use of techno-gizmos like mobile phones on one end and thier smart and mature behavior during the elections epitomizes this uncommon common innovative trait.
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          Feb 9 2012: "India may appear to be a 'devloping' country from most of the materialistic yardsticks. The [so called] formal education is one of such yardsticks. But it does not lack in the uncommonness of the common intuitive learning abilities [I am sure none of the human races would be falling short on this count"

          I need you to explain this, for I did not quite understand what you mean?


          "The ease use of techno-gizmos like mobile phones on one end and thier smart and mature behavior during the elections epitomizes this uncommon common innovative trait."

          And do you mean by this that it looks surreal to see Indians with mobile phones in their hands during election time.....that it's somehow out of place?

          Because, when cell phones first started to be implemented here, it was surreal to see a grandma in the market with a cell phone in her hand. It was kind of silly to look it is so common......we are all so used to it. Is this what you mean? If not, please feel free to clarify.
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          Feb 9 2012: Got it.

          Thank you for clarifying your points. They made a big difference.

          I find your reasoning and view to be true. Our intuitive learning abilities help us to adapt to new technology regardless of higher education. And, when it comes to your example of voting on issues, higher education is not needed either, as long as their is widespread information educating the citizens on important matters.

          Good points Ashok.
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      Feb 9 2012: I think that we still need to stream line the education process & to campaign the need of education to every individual,no doubt that the recent reports of UNESCO speaks about the ratio of educated people are strategically growing bt there are so many hinderance to achieve the EFA.
      While we talk about e learning i guess we are not still stretched to that kind of learning as we still rely on the traditional method of learning with the physical apperance of a tutour.
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        Feb 9 2012: Do you find that those living in parts of India where American corporations have telemarketing offices enjoy more exposure to technology, and therefore have better access to on-line education?

        I ask, because we get calls from India all the time, usually promoting something for an American company. And I know they have access to the internet, I have asked them.
        • Feb 9 2012: I am sorry I could not put across my point of view in simple way.
          I will try again here:
          1.If one lokks at level of literacy, number of people who clear secondary school education, number of teachers per 1000 persons in rul area versus that in urban area, it would ceratinly appear that Indai needs to go a long way in terms of progrss on formal eductaion, in its traditoonal sense.
          2. However, these very people who may not have undergone [so called] formal education, easily can use devices like cell phne for simple text messaging. If enough content is availble for thier applications like market prices for thier produces, mobile banking etc., these people will be able to adopy these as easily as any formally eductaed persons.
          3. Second example of their intutive maturity is thier deft understanding of the issues and resultanat pattern of voting.
          Hence, more audio visual aids, like TED talks on the subk=jects which affect thier lies can spread the eductaion - awareness- of many vital issues, subject to availability of requisite infrastructure.
          Thus, w.. w... w... can be realised sooner, by aligning the right content through approproate technology.
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          Feb 10 2012: Well if i am narrating about EFA it includes both the urban & rural areas....I would say that the technology of E-learning & all the latest technology stuff that is quite emerging to be the future is yet to reach the rural than the urban areas.
          In India,something new to be accepted takes time as the traditional way had rooted down the hearts....!!!!!
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        Feb 10 2012: "something new to be accepted takes time as the traditional way had rooted down the hearts....!!!!!"

        It is difficult to let go of things that are deeply entrenched in one's heart.

        There is a quote I like that says: "Have you ever noticed that the only ones who like change are wet babies?" J. Lunden

        It is normal to fear the unknown. But, like with every new technology, or idea, little by little, as some brave the new, those who see it's benefits will start to join it.

        I really do think you CAN teach old dogs new just takes patience and time.

        Be Well Balakrishna, I have enjoyed conversation with you and with Ashok and learning about technology in your part of the world.
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          Feb 13 2012: Thanks Mary,appreciate your thoughts.
          But my question OR my thoughts are that,does the changes in general(not specific on the EFA) to be initiated from the government bodies or it can be from every individual??Why do people wait for some government acts to be formed for accepting some good things??
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        Feb 13 2012: Hi again Balakrishna....well, I had never thought about this view of some people "waiting for some government bodies to act before accepting a good thing."

        Hmm. I would imagine that depending on what the "new thing" is the reactions of the individuals cannot be all the same.

        I would also imagine that some individuals are afraid of getting in trouble with government if they move ahead of it???

        I really don't know the answer Balakrishna, since your question/thought is very general.

        I hope you are able to get help from someone else here on TED.

        Be Well.
  • Feb 8 2012: " education of all" has already come true , but the education is too much.

    Also , education does not have to be an academic one.

    In africa , children learns a beauty.

    I have seen so may people who live educatively without know many knowledges.

    Wahtwver , Whereever , Whenever (www) are great idea.

    Even though education is available all around the world( exception) , many people just like to be ignorant.
    They continue to be a blind.

    In this world , people really want education are not provided while others who live painfully stupid provided too much of sort things.

    Each person must enlighten him / her self.
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      Feb 8 2012: Ah, yes, each person must enlighten him or her self.

      WWW age allows many to be enlightened for free.

      No longer is it necessary to leave the comfort of your home for information on any topic.

      It is wonderful that so much information is availabe, don't you think so?

      In the spanish language we say people have "no culture" when they lack education and exposure to ideas. They live close-mindedly and refuse to grow as individuals. It is sad to see that in today's information age, there are still people like that.

      We also have an english saying: "Ignorance is bliss" usually because it means you will not be responsible, you can always say....."I don't know how to do that....." and therefore have less responsibility....

      Here is another quote....."The worst blind person is the one who refuses to see"
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    Feb 8 2012: I certainly hope so George!!!

    Knowledge has truly become abundant.....Bring on the learning revolution!
  • Feb 13 2012: Hey Bra! No is the answer. Sorry, it will be a sad day, if this world does. This world can not get along. Let alone, the internet, in charge? This world, is not ready for the internet. Excellent question! :)
  • Feb 13 2012: It will surely become a reality when everyone knows how to use a computer. Look at certain Asian countries, including India, you will see that a lot of people don't have access to primary level education. That equals total lack of knowledge of their own language especially reading and writing. If that is the current state, the crux of the population which needs education the most wouldn't understand the complexities of English or any other language other than their own. Unless each of these 'services' are naturalized in the languages of those people, it will be more of a fantasy rather than a reality. Don't mistake my opinion though. People will use the 'services' but the men/women who need it the most will not be able to get it or understand it. It will, in my humble opinion, be 'education for all' only when the basic educational qualification is met by the government services and those people can utilize these services for higher understanding.
  • Feb 11 2012: I'm currently educated privately in the UK, and I feel that we've passed this WWW stage, but somewhat overshot. There's a healthy supply of state and private schools, but I think our most pressing problem is a saddening lack of incentive for education. 25,000 pupils disappeared from the school register last year at the age of 14, and the option to leave school at 16 is taken up by a large proportion of teens (not sure if this applies in the US?). Personally I think in a rush to service the country's growth, something has been lost in teaching. The GCSE exams, inevitably growing easier by the year in an attempt woo schools with good results for pupils and a profit for the exam board (a different but equally debatable topic), have a somewhat "robotic" nature to them, and leads me to question what education is all about? I feel that something has been lost in the manufactured, collectivist system that we call education
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    Feb 9 2012: Yes WWW it is already here!

    Another inspiring talk you should watch:

    Check out MIT open source materials:
    There is some from Stanford:

    And an index page for many more:

    Happy studying!
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    Feb 9 2012: What we have now is education of feelings, not reason.
  • Feb 9 2012: The tools to allow more people than ever to access high quality education materials have exploded in the last few years.

    But the culture that enables to value and engage in that education has not necessarily developed at the same speed.

    Our current culture of education is not so much a culture of intellectualism - it's not focused on getting an education for the sake of broadening your intellectual horizon... very much a worthwhile goal in itself. It's focused on accreditation, for the sake of relative employability, as well as social status.

    It used to be that the quality of the accredication corresponded well with the broadening of the intellectual horizon. There is efficacy in the techniques used to teach after all... but even as we discuss this, we are in the midst of the technological shift that will allow for a higher quality education that you could get anywhere else... to be freely accessible on the internet. That flies very much contrary to the built up expectation and perception - and will meet with fierce resistance before the idea (that better education is more expensive) is surrendered.

    It's not that expensive education doesn't have its positives - so much as it is that this 'internet based education' doesn't have its positives duly recognized by a wide enough swathe of the world.

    Of course, there's a problem of accreditation, or lack thereof from internet learning... but maybe the real problem is we should simply update our methodology in determining efficacy. The previous system has worked decently up until now; but with more data and greater ability to gather, analyze and exploit that data than ever before, it's high time to rethink some of those previous paradigms of how we regard education.