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Lifelong education and the World Wide Web: American hegemony or diverse utopia?

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The notion of network lay at the centre of Illich's and Faure's 1970s proposals concerning lifelong education. Today, the World Wide Web dramatically exemplifies many features of lifelong education and is a metaphor for the learning society. The problem is that most sites are in the US and Web course architects are prone to include a large number of links back to the US Cultural ideas about what is good and bad and the way the world should be organized are nested within American Web courses and learning materials. In this paper three Canadians reflect on what US dominance of the Web means for smaller nations and indigenous,non English-speaking and other persons outside the US metropole. With the needs of non-US learners in mind, the authors make one lot of recommendations concerning the 'positionality' of Web course architects and instructors and another set concerning 'diversity'. There is no point in blaming Americans for dominating the Web, but those who live outside the US should realise that the uncritical use of US courses, links or learning materials has consequences.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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