This session examined the decentralised capacity of the Internet to nurture and disseminate innovation and ideas that promote an open and participatory online culture which is increasingly incompatible with authoritarian principles. Further discussion identified the essential importance of lifelong learning and iterative/on-going education strategies to maintain and update skills in an ever evolving digital market place – as well as the progressive erosion of academic credentials in favour of professional achievement and verifiable current skills. Over the next 5 years online education and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will cause serious disruption to the incumbent players in the higher education market – but with an expanded role for value added intermediary services, guidance and support which are complementary to these new digital learning pathways. Online education will open up new learning opportunities in the developing world, although shortfalls in literacy skills and disability barriers will need to be addressed. Finally, it was suggested that professionalised information management skills can help democratise and rationalise access to online education resources – particularly through the effective tagging and referencing of content to support the retrieval of discrete course/subject components.
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