As I was reading an article critical of MOOCs and online learning (there seem to be no shortage as everyone likes a good straw man), I was annoyed by a certain statement made about halfway into the article.
"Every age has its autodidacts, gifted people able to teach themselves with only their books. Woe unto us if we require all citizens to manifest that ability."
Learning is our natural state of being. We can't help but learn new things. I don't want citizens to manifest the ability to "teach themselves" I want them to rediscover that with resources and support, one can learn anything.
If you are letting someone else set the curriculum and pace for your learning you will inevitably be disappointed. I have enjoyed my formal schooling thus far and have benefited from great educators but I considered them a supplement to my learning not the other way around. I've have always kept a stack of books at my desk since I learned to read. When the Internet emerged, I found both resources and community that addressed my questions that books and the classroom could not answer.
When I was a child, if I wanted to learn about a topic there were two options: learn about it in school, or buy the book. Now I have books, school, videos, forums/conferences, web pages, virtual simulations, online classes, and more. Almost all of these can be found via the Internet from a computer that fits in my pocket.
In this new world, enriched with technology, Educators are not obsolete, they are more useful than ever before. We no longer need to be disseminators of information, and this should be welcome news. For how could we ever hope to keep up with the rapid increase in information. We must be mentors, and as my colleague +James Sanders puts it, curators of quality resources. The author seems to agree with this when she says that education at it's core is, "one mind engaging with another, in real time: listening, understanding, correcting, modeling, suggesting, prodding, denying, affirming, and critiquing thoughts and their expression."
There has never been a better time to learn. Resources and communities are plentiful. Never stop learning.