Curtis Bonk: The World Is Open

I have been avidly reading the book “The World Is Open” by Curtis Bonk. I am halfway through the book and this is not intended to be the full review that I promised Curtis I would write for Amazon.Com as soon as I finished.

I have so far thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The thing that comes across is Curtis’ massive enthusiasm for the potential of technology to transform education. Not only is the world open but Curtis is too.

I contacted him by e-mail and almost immediately received a reply back! We have been in contact a few times since and he has asked me where I come from (Hockley, U.K.) and told me about his past visits to my country and how much he had enjoyed coming here.

The key to Curtis’ book is the acronym “We All Learn” and it is this emphasis on the potential of web technology to open up the world of learning for all of us lifetime learners is what  drew me to find out about him in the first place.

The acronym stands for:


  • Web Searching in the World of e-Books (i.e., Darwin)
  • E-Learning and Blended Learning
  • Availability of Open Source and Free Software (e.g., Moodle)
  • Leveraged Resources and OpenCourseWare (e.g., MIT)
  • Learning Object Repositories and Portals (i.e., shared content)
  • Learner Participation in Open Info Communities (YouTube)
  • Electronic Collaboration and Interaction (sync and async)
  • Alternate Reality Learning (Online Massive Gaming, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds; e.g., Second Life)
  • Real-Time Mobility and Portability (e.g., iPhone)
  • Networks of Personalized Learning (Blogs, RSS)

The book is  a journey through all of the above things. Curtis has met and worked with or interviewed so many of the leading figures in the advance of web technology that you feel you almost know them personally. He is also able to highlight the little known figures who are playing such a big part in bringing advances in e-learning to countries throughout the world.

I was particularly moved when he discussed the accident in Hanoi that almost killed Seymour Papert and how he was able to use social media to find out about his condition.

Throughout this book you are involved in the excitement of  being at the forefront of what is an obvious revolution in our way of life. I read the book because I felt I knew so little about it all other than what I had picked up from becoming an Active Twitterer and finding I could become part of a worldwide learning community of educationists.

It was from a link from Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon and @futureofed) that I first came across his name and then did the inevitable Google Search!

The rest, as they say, is history. I ordered the book from and it arrived very quickly. I have been ploughing through its 470 pages and so far have just finished the chapter on Open Course Ware (OCW) and the explosion of online learning from great universities like MIT that has opened up higher education for so many students throughout the world.

The thing that has impressed me so far, as much as a review of the technology and the main people involved has been the sheer international aspect of it all. Curtis is very much an internationalist in the best sense, he sees no barriers to learning throughout our planet and sees the web revolution as opening up the potential for us all to learn and be influenced by others wherever they come from .

I shall be posting my eventual review of the book. You can go to his site where there are lots and lots of resources including a prequel and postscript to the book. He is coming out with a free e-book on the same chapter headings but with different material which will be available soon.

He also has a very entertaining blog:

I shall finish by suggesting that you look at the short video which I have uploaded below… it shows you the man and his ideas. You will get a feel for the humour and the enthusiasm of the man. Hopefully this blog entry will get you to learn some more about him and what he has to say.


4 thoughts on “Curtis Bonk: The World Is Open

  1. Hi Malcolm:

    You have captured much of the spirit of my book in your blog post here. I was fortunate to have traveled around the world training people to teach online and use learning technology in various educational settings–schools, colleges and universities, corporate training, government, and military…higher/tertiary education being the most pronounced. Many of these people gave me interviews or provided me with contacts for people to interview. That made my job easier.

    Initially, this was supposed to be an edited book of people who had changed the world. A small publisher convinced me to write the book myself since I had all the contacts. I had contacted Thomas Friedman (who wrote “The World is Flat” book) and talked to his publisher. I thought they might publish my book as well. There was some interest at first when it was to be an edited book of thought leaders.

    I like your quote below; especially the second sentence. There are thousands of people today who are using Web technology to make a difference in the world. You are now among them with your new blog and twitter posts. Each of these people needs to be highlighted and praised for doing something for the greater good of mankind.

    “Curtis has met and worked with or interviewed so many of the leading figures in the advance of web technology that you feel you almost know them personally. He is also able to highlight the little known figures who are playing such a big part in bringing advances in e-learning to countries throughout the world.”

    I include many more people in the free e-book extension that I am working on. I will post it at the website when done. The video you refer to was created for secondary students in the Flat Classrooms project around the world. It was a fun way to try to talk about all the people in the book in a brief way (under the 10 minute max allowable on YouTube). I go a tad fast. Smile. The Flat Classrooms project analyzes one book per year using Web technologies to get these kids to collaborate, share, discuss, etc., ideas from the book selected. This year they are analyzing my book. Cool!

    Ok, thanks again for the blog post. U R great! I hope to get back to the UK for a visit soon.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s