The Learning Revolution, by Rumie

The printing press ushered an era of mass communication, created the middle class, restructured society and changed the world. Gutenberg’s invention broke the monopoly of the elite on education and learning by making expensive knowledge distribution cheap, bringing literacy to an affordable level for most.

Yet not for all.

Printing books still involved the cost of the process and the materials. The digital revolution brought the cost of information distribution to practically zero. Once hardware cost dropped lower than a certain threshold, hardware that might anyway be owned or accessible (such as in the example of smartphones as a basic commodity for communication), the medium of information consumption became attainable by almost everyone. Charitable initiatives (Rumie among them, as well as the famous OLPC) made such hardware free even for those still unable to afford it.

Information can now reach anyone at no cost. But what information?

Another revolution is happening, the “learning revolution*” if you will, where quality educational content is being made free online. A movement of openness swept the academic establishment as a whole and made the harbingers of perhaps the most quality of all knowledge to open their harbors, in open courses and other open educational resources [1, 2, 3]. Social media democratized the creation of quality content, expanding not just the amount but also the variety of learning materials, where content that might not even be designed as educational can be utilized for that purpose [1, 2]. While the cost of information, in the form of intellectual property, was relatively nominal for several centuries, it still put up a barrier to distribution. It was closed. It was protected by ownership which ultimately prevented it from spreading freely (literally and metaphorically). No longer.

Yet, one more obstacle needed to be broken.

The proliferation of open and free educational content created a problem that many enterprises are trying to solve — how to sort it all out. This is a universal problem in any industry that hosts, generates and distributes content, not just education. The “age of the algorithm” is upon us, pioneered most dominantly by Google, where analyzing, sorting and curating content is of indispensable value in this attention economy. It is the only thing that makes our digital lives make sense. Education has this same requirement as any of these other industries.

Enter Rumie.

Rumie started with bringing the digital revolution to underprivileged populations and underserved communities of learners in poor countries (“from Cairo to Calcutta”). As opposed to other initiatives, Rumie is taking it one revolution further. It also offers these learners the fruits of the learning revolution by tackling the most critical challenge it poses — sorting it all out. If content is king, “context is god”. To do this, Rumie is calling out for some helping hand, making use of one of the greatest drivers of production and productivity of our time — crowdsourcing. If Wikipedia can do it… Rumie is employing the good will of volunteers all around the world to give of their time and skills to make the world a better place by bettering what the world has to offer those who are going to live in it and take care of it in the years to come.

A world changed by Rumie is one I’d like to live in.

Help them make that change here.

*The term “learning revolution” is often used to describe different scopes of change in education, not strictly or specifically that ushered by the availability of free educational content.

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