Friday, July 25, 2008

Forest: World University as Linux-like OS for world learning

Over the past 10 weeks on Berkman Island (I'm not on Harvard's faculty) in Second Life, the 3-D virtual world, the class I teach there has been exploring the idea of a global, degree-granting, open, free, multilingual, virtual world University, with Harvard {or great Universities) as a key player, and using a Linux OS / Wikipedia / Global Voices Online model, for the developing world (third and fourth worlds) and everyone.

Come and join the last class of the summer in-world (Second Life) this upcoming Wednesday, July 30, 2008) to converse - socinfotech.pbwiki.com - click on "How to Get There."

As we've been envisioning it, anyone might add courses to or take courses from this University, like Wikipedia, although degree-granting, at first, would be for matriculated students, perhaps, for example, at Harvard, MIT or Cal Berkeley. While all countries (around 200, perhaps starting with the countries in Global Voices Online) and all languages (possibly 3000, but starting with those languages in Wikipedia) will be part of this, I'd like to focus at first on the countries that MIT's One Laptop Per Child is also engaging: Rwanda, Ethiopia, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, USA (Birmingham, Alabama), Uruguay, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, & Papua New Guinea.

World University might offer four courses, at first, in each of these countries, to be engaged possibly on One Laptop Per Child and iPhone-like devices. And people in these countries can, of course, add their own courses to the wiki, with knowledge they would like to share. And Harvard professors, for example, might also teach 4 courses at the undergraduate level, and 1 graduate level course, in the fall of 2009, with at-large participation possible. A video-capable iPhone-like device would allow people who are illiterate to take and post courses to this wiki.

World University is doable and far-reaching. It's also already open in rudimentary form, to which you can add courses, and could extend thousands of years in the future - http://globaluniversity.pbwiki.com, generating a remarkable archive of courses over time. Perusing this wiki will give you an idea of ways in which this University may develop, and you can add to this wiki by, at present, contacting me. In addition to academic courses, this "Multilingual University" will be open to almost all possible courses, including Ph.D.-related ones, and those in Medicine, Music (both Western and Indian classical, with instrumental training possible), Veterinary, Law, Electrical Engineering, etc., as well as 'harmonizing' and therapeutic courses like yoga, Watsu, and acupuncture.

At present, if you're oriented to learning on your own, you can start taking courses from, for example, MIT's Open Course Ware listing of 1800 courses, with many video lectures already posted. But credit and degree-granting isn't yet pragmatic in this envisioning, and I think this might take possibly 10 years to develop. People ultimately train their own minds in whatever learning context, and World University may well facilitate this in new ways.

Almost every aspect of learning that takes place in a classroom or learning situation now, is possible to engage in virtual worlds like Second Life today, and these virtual world technologies will develop a lot in the next few years.

I've posted the roughly 9 transcripts about "World University," so far, from the "Society and Information Technology" course I teach in Second Life here http://socinfotech.pbwiki.com.

I think this project might cost at least 1 billion U.S. dollars per year, and a "World University Foundation" would facilitate the financial side of this project, but this University would be free to students.

We've been talking about names for this University, and right now World University, Multilingual University, Aphilo's Multilingual University, Rainbow University, World School or Knowledge University have come up for discussion.

Please share your thoughts here about "Global School," "Aphilos University Multilingual" or "World University." Enjoy this forest :)


World University, in Africa

Why not create a U.S. $10 solar, video-capable, iPhone-like device, in conjunction with One Laptop Per Child, to distribute easily in Africa, for example, in the Congo, so that peoples there might start to teach and learn courses vis-a-vis World University's Wiki, in Agriculture, Business, Computer Science, English, and in Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba, Swahili, French and English languages (of the estimated 242 languages of the Congo)?

With this World University Wiki, local teachers could use such devices to teach one-to-many wherever Internet access is available, in conjunction, to start, with the most competent University there, and to record courses directly to the World Wide Web.

1 comment:

Kabuika Kamunga said...

Being originally from the Congo, I think creating a global university will be very, very beneficial for everyone. In Congo, education is considered precious. So to imagine Congolese, whether in cities or villages, having access to higher education is simply wonderful. Thank you for working on such an admirable project. Kabuika