American colleges and universities should quickly build a better set of shared high-speed networking tools and protocols for research if the United States is to maintain leadership in technology and higher education, said Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation, in a speech here on Wednesday to college leaders.
In the speech, “Cyberinfrastructure: The Second Revolution,” Mr. Bement highlighted the importance of what has become the major focus of the foundation’s support for technology at colleges in recent years. He predicted that innovations in cyberinfrastructure would have an effect similar to that of the invention of the Internet, which was also sparked in part with the foundation’s support.
This is a very real problem. What kinds of tools would you build? Why not leverage the innovations in learning in various institutions of Higher-Ed in US? Or, make it part of one of the Collective Intelligence Initiative?
One of the ways to bootstrap this model of innovation was proposed by Doug Engelbart. His focus is on Augmenting Human Intellect. While Doug is well known as the inventor of the mouse, he has a lot to teach us about Augmentation, Improvement and Improving the process of Improvement.
Doug Engelbart’s theory of recursive improvement is called the A-B-C model. So let us take the example of Improving Learning.
Let us imagine a community focused on Improving Learning Capabilities in the World. Since this involves several countries, It will be community of communities. One possible application of A-B-C model would be as follows:
A – Would be a community in each university to use internet to enable learning (a lot is already happening in this area).
B – Would be a community to improve A (what are the best techniques of using internet to enable learning). This would be in reality a community of communities (Doug calls this Networked Improvement Community or NIC).
C- Would be a community focused on improving the LearningNIC (a meta NIC). NSF Can fund a meta NIC effort and bootstrap NICs everywhere in the country.
So may be Arden should have a coversation with Doug. And look at some work done by Valerie and others on EdNIC (a NIC for education).