Free UniversE-ity

A site for self-determination and against the enclosure of knowledge

What are learning webs?

What are learning webs?

Learning webs can be interpreted to mean many things. One might say the internet or interwebs themselves are necessarily learning webs. Or maybe life itself even? However, we also have a very particular, and potentially particularly useful, definition for them. This definition has been provided by Ivan Illich in his 1973 book Deschooling Society. The portal to various learning webs on this site is hoping to fulfill intentions and  capacities laid out and detailed below. With various people sharing and creating websites as profiles indexing and offering their own skills and capacities up as part of a mutual aid learning web, everyone may build upon the knowledge and experience of everyone else in the web. After reading the description of learning webs from Ivan Illich below, peep Learning Webs and Spaces and create/add yours to the index!

The following quote, notwithstanding the use of the term education, should be illustrative and has been directly quoted from

Learning webs – new formal educational institutions. In Deschooling Society Ivan Illich argued that a good education system should have three purposes: to provide all that want to learn with access to resources at any time in their lives; make it possible for all who want to share knowledge etc. to find those who want to learn it from them; and to create opportunities for those who want to present an issue to the public to make their arguments known (1973a: 78). He suggests that four (possibly even three, he says) distinct channels or learning exchanges could facilitate this. These he calls educational or learning webs.

Exhibit 1: Ivan Illich on learning webs

Educational resources are usually labelled according to educators curricular goals. I propose to do the contrary, to label four different approaches which enable the student to gain access to any educational resource which may help him to define and achieve his own goals:

1. Reference services to educational objects – which facilitate access to things or processes used for formal learning. Some of these things can be reserved for this purpose, stored in libraries, rental agencies, laboratories and showrooms like museums and theatres; others can be in daily use in factories, airports or on farms, but made available to students as apprentices or on off-hours.

2. Skill exchanges – which permit persons to list their skills, the conditions under which they are willing to serve as models for others who want to learn these skills, and the addresses at which they can be reached.

3. Peer-matching – a communications network which permits persons to describe the learning activity in which they wish to engage, in the hope of finding a partner for the inquiry.

4. Reference services to educators-at-large – who can be listed in a directory giving the addresses and self-descriptions of professionals, paraprofessionals and freelances, along with conditions of access to their services. Such educators… could be chosen by polling or consulting their former clients. (Illich 1973a: 81)



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