It’s increasingly important to consider how the Good Enough Revolution pertains to education. I’m a fan of educational research, but worry that it focuses too much on marginal differences, in a world that does not value marginal differences in quality anymore.
What does the world care about? The Wired article gets it right — we want ease of use, accessibility, and continous availability. And education is no different.
One way of looking at it is that the idea of quality has been enlarged, not demeaned. In the manufacturing model, quality was something that pertained to objects, because objects were their own contexts. A dishwasher doesn’t need to play well with your clothes dryer or your radio. It can, for the most part, be evaluated on how well it does its job.
What the MP3 explosion showed us is that people are willing to trade quality as traditionally defined for portability, shareability, and availability. As the Wired article points out, we’ve seen this again and again with netbooks, Skype, Google Docs, and YouTube. The question is not “How good is this?”, but “How well does this play with the other parts of my life?”
I’ve heard people mock the quality of University of Phoenix courses and other online offerings — and in traditional terms they may be right As an object, I am sure that any course we are offering on campus is better than a UoP course.
But taking a more holistic view of quality this is not as clear. And as we move from the Manufacturing Age to the Network Age that is where the future of quality is headed.