Christian Long’s post on the required use of handheld computing devices (PDA’s) for medical students is a good indicator of the changing nature of knowledge in all professions:
Sometimes schools get scared and annoyed, banning Google searches and iPods in the classrooms. Sometimes they go the opposite direction, believing that technology may actually make the world a better place one PDA at a time. Over at Brown University, Providence, RI, the second tact seems to be the case.
As an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing notes :
“If we had students buy a book, by the time the book hits the bookstore, it’s outdated,” Lauzon Clabo said. “And with using PDAs, they can update their software weekly.”
Learners need up to date information and access to knowledgeable people in their own, as well as other, fields. Textbooks no longer meet that need. Unfortunately for specialists and texbook writers, the digital medium is making many of them redundant. The texbook is no longer the primary source of knowledge; instead it’s the messy, disorganised worldwide web. A similar debate of whether experts and school boards should pre-authorise the content of wiki textbooks went on for a while at Education Bridges.
First it’s the professional schools, soon it will be public schools who reject the textbook and the small circle of experts who write and publish them. I look forward to this democratisation of educational resources. The more the merrier.