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chmod 777 education

By Carlos Santos, Luís Pedro / April 2009

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In 2005, a few months after Tim O'Reilly crafted the term Web 2.0 and the discussion about Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 emerged, IBM's James Snell wrote a short post explaining his view about the Web 2.0 concept. He used a brief Unix/Linux command— chmod 777 Web—to convey the message that Web 2.0 is all about granting users full-access privileges to the Web.

His thought-provoking comments got us thinking. What would happen if we executed a "chmod 777 education" command to provide openness to education?

In operating systems like Unix/Linux, using the chmod 777 command allows users full access to classes. In an educational context, using the chmod 777 education command would require educational agents agree that learning should be open to all, allowing everyone with some interest in a subject to be able to learn, discuss, and use it.

However, this scenario is not so much a technological issue as an educational one. The sheer use of Web 2.0 technologies in education does not imply the fair, complete, and automatic implementation of core underlying principles of chmod 777 education, such as openness, collaboration, participation, and sharing.

A good example of this is the use of social media tools and applications in some educational settings where the teacher restricts participation and sharing to a small community of students, thus leaving behind the broader—and increasingly more important—student-learning contexts, communities, and resources.

chmod 777 education advocates embrace the full openness of educational tools and contexts, allowing students, teachers, and the larger learning community to enroll in collective knowledge construction activities, without restrictions. Purporting learning as a communal and social activity, this networked and participative approach to education intends to encompass and empower all educational agents, switching the locus from passively following and consuming to responsibly and actively recommending, sharing, and contributing to broader and diverse learning communities.

This approach also represents new boundaries for education, setting the stage for a more open school-a "no-walls school" as pointed out by Attwell and Wesch. The chmod 777 education concept stresses the metaphorical wall-lessness toward a new cognitive and social openness that results from empowering educational agents and making room for a new spirit of interactivity, participation, and collaboration.

Finally, we're also talking about new contexts for education. The openness purported by chmod 777 education promotes a dilution and active remix of the different learning contexts where educational agents are present.

Are you ready to hit "Enter"?

About the Authors
Carlos Santos is an assistant lecturer and Ph.D. student in the cmmunication and arts department of the University of Aveiro, Portugal. He is the executive coordinator of research and development lab. His personal blog can be found at

Luís Pedro is an assistant professor in the communication and arts department of the University of Aveiro, Portugal, where he is involved in research activities in the Multimedia Communication Master Degree program, and in the Multimedia in Education and in the Information and Communication in Digital Platforms Doctoral programs. His personal blog can be found at

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  • Thu, 04 Mar 2010
    Post by Craig Howard

    Curious title for your post. I think what youre referring to are renowned brink and mortar institutions. The credibility of long standing universities works against the degree mills, but from my perspective that is a minor factor compared to the larger issues. What does Harvard (for example) putting a class online do for addressing issues surrounding a planned deception for credit, intergroup distrust and missed face-to-face cues in the learners entering professions after commencement? Did fine institutions like the ones you attended have tactics that I missed? In researching this article I did notice that buried in the descriptions of online programs, many have requirements for face-to-face meetings. As this becomes more general knowledge, I think such programs gain credibility. Thanks for the comment.

  • Sat, 27 Feb 2010
    Post by Muvaffak GOZAYDIN

    Sorry . I am Turkish. Educated at Caltech and Stanford and worked in a wonderful company in Silicon valley, 1965-1970. I have been working on ONLINE education since 1995. 1.- If ONLINE is done by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA there is no question about credibility. Right. Nobody asks you whether or not it is ONLINE . So Brand name is most important. Who is doing. Would you by an Indian Car in USA? No . No brand name . So do not accuse ONLINE . It is BRAND NAME .

    2.- ONLINE is cost effective. But my American friends do not understand that it is cost effective if it is done for 1000 even 2-3-4.000 students. So you have to SHARE your ONLINE courses with other universities and particularly with community colleges. And charge them only $ 10-20 per semester, per person, per course. Even SHARE it with the world like Yale, Harvard, Princeton etc.

    A good ONLINE course development costs $ 500.000 . Do not cheat yourself.

    3.- Drexel is the best ONLINE University in the USA. They are very expensive. More expensive than f2f. Nonsense. They do not share . Shame on them .

    4.- It is said that there are 800 or so BOGUS Universities in the USA. Probably more in ONLINE Universities. So my American friends should be more careful. At least in Turkey we do not have to worry about bogus University.

    5. ONLINE is 10 times better than f2f and costs 1/10 of the f2f . Period. ONLINE is for thousands of students not for only 50-60 even 100 students .

    6.- ONLINE is future. Let us do not destroy it . Best regards. [email protected] from Turkey

  • Sat, 20 Feb 2010
    Post by evision

  • Wed, 17 Feb 2010
    Post by Craig Howard

    Thanks for the comment/question. When online learning is cheaper than the other options for whatever reason (travel to get to school, time commitments etc...), the digital divide has a new meaning; those with enough or the right resources (time, money, location) don't have to sit in front of a computer to learn. That's what I mean by the tables are turning. The digital divide will turn the tables on the average student. At one point in time it was a barrier from online learning, but I see the cost effectiveness of online learning, or the presupposition of online learning's cost effectiveness, to be the divide between those who get the cues-filtered-out, and those who get the cues-filtered-in. We're not that far away.

  • Wed, 17 Feb 2010
    Post by Andrew Barrett

    You raise valid issues that must be addressed in order for the credibility of online degrees to be increased.

    One part that I didn't understand was in second last paragraph. You state... "we must assume the perceived value of the online degree has an extreme importance, especially now, as the digital divide is turning the tables on the average student"

    My question is: How is the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not, turning the tables on the average student?