The Fourth Online-Learning Revolution: We can only provide quality online and distance-learning experiences today if we understand that what we are living through is not the first but rather the fourth online-learning revolution. [...] Let me back up fifteen hundred years [...] Then came the third online-learning revolution: the printing press of Johann Gutenberg, and the seventy-year explosion of print culture that followed. [...] Today we are in the middle of a fourth online-learning revolution. To properly understand and manage it, however, we need to understand something crucial about the third online-learning revolution. What is it about the institution of the university that allowed it to survive the third online-learning revolution? For the fourth will be a catastrophic bust and distance-learning will die—unless we figure out how to replicate online those features of the university which kept it alive in the post-Gutenberg years after the third online-learning revolution.
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First thought: the university stumbled upon a self-perpetuating mechanism by creating successive graduating classes whose interest is to preserve the distinction between them (and the university that taught them) and the rest of society. It's not what you learn, but what club you can claim membership in.