Self-Directed Learning in the Age of Open Source, Open Hardware and 3D Printing

Self-Directed Learning in the Age of Open Source, Open Hardware and 3D Printing

James I. Novak
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6292-4.ch007
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This chapter investigates the role of online communities in the future of learning. It considers the paradigm shift from the “push” of more formal educational models, to the notion of “pull” whereby people actively pursue personalized learning experiences. Empowered by the internet and the ability to access information and connect to each other at any time, massive online communities are building vast pools of information around specialized topics such as 3D printing, coding and electronics. This chapter discusses the role of digital technologies in transforming educational models. It provides an argument that practice-led, self-directed research is changing the way people engage with learning. The argument is supported by examples of practice from online communities, university and school education, drawing together key considerations for the future of education that are particularly relevant for technology and educational researchers, teachers across disciplines and those developing higher-level curriculum directives.
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Throughout human history, skills, stories and knowledge have passed from one generation to the next, communicated verbally or through information recorded in manuscripts, paintings and other media. However, until the development of the printing press, and the subsequent later mass production of books, the sharing of knowledge was limited to those able to access and interpret it in its verbal or visual form. This often limited skills and ideas to specific communities, being spread slowly through travel and trade, and easily lost if a community were conquered or otherwise displaced. Shifting to the present day, knowledge must still pass from generation to generation; however, new tools are increasingly allowing information to be communicated in new ways, none more transformational than the Internet. Viewed broadly, within the macro concept of human evolution and the capacity for humans to educate each new generation, the concept of online education and the Internet is an incredibly new concept. Beetham and Sharpe (2013, p. 46) describe:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Industry 4.0: Also known as the “fourth industrial revolution,” this describes the current trend for increased automation in manufacturing, communication and machine-to-machine and human-to-machine relationships more broadly.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD): The use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis or optimization of a design in 2D or 3D.

Web 2.0: The shift in web content from being passively viewed, to interacted with and produced by anyone through social media, blogs, wikis, video sharing websites, and other online communities.

Knowledge Community: A group of people who gather online and engage in the acquisition and exchange of knowledge around a particular topic, either with explicit goals of building new knowledge, or less formally through shared interests and practice.

Maker: A Maker is part of modern Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture, utilizing digital software and hardware as tools for making and hacking, closely intertwined with open source.

Code: The step-by-step instructions that controls computers, programs, apps, websites or electronics.

Demand-Pull: Within the context of this chapter, demand-pull refers to an intrinsic desire to learn and adopt new technologies or processes, as opposed to top-down forces like government policy, legislation or traditional education models that push learning onto the masses. Also called “bottom-up.”

3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing): A digital fabrication technology that allows the production of an object by adding material layer-by-layer in three dimensions.

Open Source: Originally related to software, the term is increasingly related to hardware (open design), and is a principle whereby all aspects of a product or service are made freely available to the public for use and modification.

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