Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age

A group of educators brought together by Sebastian Thrun, founder of UdaCity, a site that seeks to connect students with hundreds of free, online university courses, has recently published a bill of rights for Learning in the Digital Age. The document seeks to outline a set of "inalienable rights"  that the authors say students and their advocates should demand from institutions and companies that offer online courses and technology tools.

Some of these rights include:
  • The right to access these courses, regardless of  race, economic status, physical disabilities, etc.
  • The right to privacy, including being informed about how personal data might be used by the online course provider.
  • The right to create public knowledge.
  • The right to one's own intellectual property.
  • The right to financial transparency, including, knowing how their participation supports the financial health  of the online system in which they are participating.
  • The right to quality and care.
  • The right to pedagogical transparecy
  • The right to have great teachers.
One of the most interesting parts of the document is its origin. Along with connecting students with free online courses, Udacity makes it money by helping companies recruit students who have opted into Udacity's job placement program.  When asked about why he helped develop and sign this bill of rights, Mr. Thun said he hoped it would put pressure on the education services industry and traditional colleges and university to focus on the pedagogical objectives of these courses, rather than seeing them as merely a money-making venture.

Read more about the Bill of Rights for Online Learners at the Cronicle of Higher Education website
or View the text of  Bill of Rights for Online Learners.