Although couched in negative context that spook privacy fears, kudos to the New York Times for putting a HUGE new step toward open learning (though learning is not mentioned) on its front page today. Here from the article is the gist of what the new HTML.5 that is the subject of the article does:
The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, advertisers and others could, experts say, see weeks or even months of personal data. That could include a user’s location, time zone, photographs, text from blogs, shopping cart contents, e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.
Let’s change the the above quoted paragraph to get a look at what the new Web language can mean for a student when she goes online to learn some more about a subject, say Egyptian history:
The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, history expert websites and Egyptology museums could, experts say, see weeks or even months of study data for the student visiting their webpage. That could include a user’s previous pages visited about Egypt, time spent on such pages and whether the student had clicked there on simple or challenging links, blogs on Egypt she has bookmarked, tests and her scores for previous online assessment, other related e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.
For education, this can mean that very different webpages about Egyptian history will respond to individual students — based on what they have looked at in the past. A second-grader’s data would tell the search process that her recent visit was to a childlike tutorial on pyramids. A high school student’s data would include a previous visit to the Metropolitan and British museums’ collections on Egyptology. Today, a Google search for “Egyptian history” would return the same list of recommended websites, in the same order, to both students. With HTML.5, a Google search will return a list of simpler websites to the second-grader and more enriched and advanced Egyptology online material for the high school student.
Quoting again from today’s New York Times article:
“It’s going to change everything about the Internet and the way we use it today,” said James Cox, 27, a freelance consultant and software developer at Smokeclouds, a New York City start-up company. “It’s not just HTML 5. It’s the new Web.”
For education, HTML.5 means serving a pupil what to learn next. This very powerful individualization of dynamic knowledge cannot be experienced without online access. A mobile internet browser will put the new HTML.5 Web into a student’s hands.