Access and Advocacy

Learning requires a combination of interest, aptitude, and access. I think most people, particularly children, are naturally inquisitive. If a child's inquisitiveness is exercised throughout his or her cognitive development, that child's innate aptitude is fostered and grows into active creativity. That exercise requires deliberate assistance and it requires tools.

In NZ, we are fortunate that most schools provide reasonable analogue tools for most pursuits, but the same is not always true for the tools required for exploring our increasingly digital world.

The digital world has evolved at breathtaking rate, and my impression is that many educators feel unprepared to support learning with the available tools. Schools have yet to fully realise the revolution in pedagogy that digital tools represent, especially those built by communities rather than corporations.

To me openness – the ability to examine and change, modify, and share the tools they use - is fundamental to learning. The beauty of using tools that everyone can access in any learning environment, without cost barriers, is that innovation can come from anyone, happen anywhere, without warning.

I have been advocating for NZ to adopt open standards, and more specifically, open source software, starting in 2001 with an open letter to NZ Parliament. In particular, I would love to see education take up more of the open source community's work, which rewards learners' inquisitiveness without proprietary barriers to stymie exploration.