Overview Edit

The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge amongst the common people, not just privileged elites such as clergy and academics. Libraries — public libraries in particular — and modern digital technology such as the internet — play a key role in the democratization of knowledge, as they provide open access of information to the masses.

Technology allows access to more information for more people than ever before in history. Sounds like hyperbole, but it is actually true. You may be reading this on a smartphone, in which case you really do have the world in the palm of your hand.

Every year brings new discoveries, inventions, and products that make our personal and working lives easier, increase our productivity, and save money. The growth of resources available to anyone with Internet access is truly astounding. Better yet, technology has a 'democratizing' effect, eliminating barriers and granting access so that new ideas can spread.

Every day, it seems, another barrier tumbles thanks to technology. One terrific example is higher education. Until recently, access to an Ivy League education was only available to those few fortunate enough to be admitted and attend in person. Recently, however, elite schools including Harvard, MIT, Duke and Stanford have begun offering hundreds of courses online for free through sites like Open Culture, EdX and Coursera. Dedicated to accessibility to education and lifelong learning, these sites also offer audio books, ebooks, movies, discussion forums and language lessons. Some courses have thousands of participants, from all over the planet. To date, these courses generally do not offer college credit, but there are intriguing developments such as smaller colleges incorporating these online classes into their programs. Forbes suggests that, 'Students at lesser colleges may become able to augment their course offerings with top instruction from great professors at prestigious universities.'[1]

References Edit

  1. Casey Colman, "The Democratization of Knowledge" (Sept. 17, 2012) (full-text).

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