Open Source

Making things slower and better

In a couple of last months I have been visiting two times the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I know their projects very well from online, but visiting physical places made me think about them differently. Physical world is so immersive – you know.

“The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking.”

What would slower/better mean in the case of education?

Do we have in the field of education “faster/cheaper” mind set?

How we could have in the field of education “slower/better” thinking?

Let’s have a look of the things we have been working on in my research group. The first project we started in the late 1990s was called “future learning environment”. The main results of the project were the progressive inquiry learning model and Fle3-software that supports the model.

The progressive inquiry model explains a good way to learn well. People do not change very fast, so we may assume that the model will work fine for a couple of thousand years. This way the pedagogical model is naturally a result for a long-term. It doesn’t wear out. It may get out of fashion but it is still there for other people to try out, experiment with and change it.

Fle3-software is designed to supports the progressive inquiry model. One could assume that software don’t stand time very well – You always need a new version. Is it really like this? Why we couldn’t have software that will be fine to carryout things for a long period of time? I hope Fle3 is designed exactly like this. It is not very fashionable at the moment but it is not going to disappear. It works as long as there are web browsers. We can simply keep Fle3 available in our website, maybe develop it once in a while and see if people will find it useful. And some people do. Because Fle3 is an open source software other people may even change it – just like they can change the progressive inquiry model.

“Slower/better” thinking means that you make things slowly, but to last long. Building Fle3 took something like 5 years. Now we are thinking about making a new Fle3 version in a year or so, which makes it a project of 10 years. It’s been very slow.

The progressive inquiry model also requires a “slower” and “better” process than what we are use to have in a modern classroom. A long inquiry gaining understanding of the topics studied takes time and is hard. Fle3 does not make it anyhow faster or cheaper. It actually may make it “slower” and more expensive, but same time “better”.

Strange, isn’t it: A computer is making something slower and better?

Is it same with the LeMill – another project we have been working on for several years. Is it making things slower and better?

I think yes. Using a ready-made and static schoolbook or digital learning object is obviously faster and more economical than making things yourself. With LeMill you must use your own brain, as you must check who did the content and think why it is as it is. This is the case even if you just use it and do not contribute in it. Because you are using your own brain, it is more likely that also your teaching on the topic will be better than without using your brain. Right?

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