For any visitors not linking here from the New York Times site, the Times Education section ran a terrific piece this morning on what it means to be an independent learner in an age of information abundance (or overload).
The piece uses my One Year BA project as an example of a structured approach to education that takes advantage of today’s free educational bounty. It also reflects on what it means to be an independent learner during an era when it is not possible to truly master the exploding number of disciplines into which today’s ever-increasing knowledge pool is subdivided.
Today’s Times also looks as this same subject through the lens of continuing education, highlighting the wide range of choices available to someone who wants to use their leisure time to expand their mind (rather than go to the track).
Both pieces are thoughtful and valuable contributions to wider discussions regarding MOOCs, free learning, and educational opportunities for all (not to mention how to deal with a new online Library of Alexandria, which was the topic of a podcast from a critical thinking curriculum project). And the only rejoinder I might add to the continuing education piece is that taking online courses (especially those drawn from undergraduate education) is not necessarily just about recreational learning.
For, as I noted in MOOCS: The Essential Guide, the undergraduate course might be the perfect “unit” of learning for those of us who decided that our Liberal Arts education did not end when we were handed a diploma at the age of 22.
And speaking of Liberal Arts (not to mention critical thinking), my second favorite reading of the day has some strong medicine on that subject.