Where do singular educational experiences fit on the path?

I am long overdue for a response to the insightful comments I received on my post on “No Path for Badging.” In essence, I agree with most of my readers sentiments. The consensus appears to be that badges (currently) are a good supplement to a formal education. I totally agree that badges (and MOOCs) provide opportunities for learners to earn and display educational certifications — especially in interest areas that may be outside of the traditional path of education.

Yet, I still see the “path” as an important issue (one that, Sal Khan seems to understand), as most learners might not have the sensitivity to know the best next steps to take self-motivated learning. I certainly felt this way growing up. As much as I enjoyed reading or visiting museums, it was often very opportunistic. I went through a great many dry spells where I “didn’t know what to read next.”

I realize there is disagreement on this issue. For example, Hick writes about “Education 3.0“:

Pushing the idea further, this kind of “new curriculum” would not simply some abstract matter of curiosity and whimsy, where we throw out any and all learning goals and let students run about, but rather a redefining of what students “study”–goals based on the student, their history, their passions, and their networks and native geographical communities.

Here, the curriculum is authentically personalized, based on thinking and making (which is internal and intrinsic) rather than an ability to parrot a carefully choreographed “performance” (which is not).

Perhaps scholars like Neil Postman, or experiences teaching unmotivated undergraduates, have made me skeptical of a typical student’s ability to take the reins of their education. It’s also possible that I’m over-defending what seems to be an attack on higher education (where columnists like Friedman declare that technology is the savior to the ills of higher education).

As an educational technologists, I naturally believe that technology can enhance education. As a constructivist, I value a learner-centered approach. In the end, I think we should make a reasoned call to better define the strengths of a traditional, residential education — either to see how technology might enhance face-to-face learning, or to better understand the residential experience’s place in the new educational landscape. I still believe the idea of the learning “map” plays a key place in organ, and I hope to develop some thoughts about how it might reconcile