Technology is changing the way we view both distance and virtual learning; they no longer need to be solo activities in which learners struggle to make sense of a text, or watch a documentary in isolation with nobody nearby to share and interact with their interpretation or help to critique it. One catalyst is video technologies – in both recorded and live formats and they are transforming the way learners engage with their teachers, their peers and the world to provide for a more collaborative, informed and authentic education. This does not preclude solitary working but, instead, offers the learner choice – choice as to whether they learn on their own or with others, either close by or at a distance. Learners choose whether to attend in person, from their home or another location via virtual classrooms or videoconference, or to catch up later by listening to a podcast or watching a video of the session – along with all the discussion, questions asked and responses given. They add their own responses by tagging the recording and ask further questions, point to resources that refute or validate a theory a teacher has proposed, and generally catch up with, and maybe go beyond the content their teacher or external expert has presented to develop a unique understanding of the subject which they then share back with the group.
A while back, I blogged on the topic of Sovereignty and National Security. Since then, much has happened, most notably the moves by some governments to require access to source code on the grounds of national security before a foreign product can be imported and used in the country. Others have insisted for products to be manufactured locally, or that intellectual know-how of the product be transferred as part of the conditions of permitting a product to be procured. These are variations of the recurring theme of requiring local control to ensure national security and to protect sovereignty against foreign influence.
One cannot deny that there are very real security concerns and threats faced by governments today that need to be addressed more adequately. Even consumers are rightly worried about security of their data and personal information, especially as more cloud computing services become available.
Some argue that proprietary products are ‘secretive’, and that they rely on the customers’ faith in the vendor that the products operate securely. Others say that it is much easier for attackers to uncover vulnerabilities when they have access to the source code, rather than trying to compromise a “black-box”.
Who is right? Is the disclosure of source code directly correlated to product security? Is there a better way to ensure security without resorting to excluding the use of foreign manufactured products?