According to Kevin McCloud on the telly, The Grand Tour served as an education rite of passage. Young men, of privilege would set off on a post-Oxbridge tour of Europe in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization.
The primary value of the Grand Tour, wikipedia believes, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionable society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music.
A grand tour could last from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a knowledgeable guide or tutor.
This is a mobile, but privileged learning experience, to have the time and the money to do this is a luxury. Can we use technology to model this form of learning experience? If we stay still can the finest knowledge and art come to us?
The new Grand Tour is aggregator learning. Now that institutions compete in the public eye to make their content open and available anyone can now take feeds of content directly from the universities, content of immediate and global significance and aggregate it, using tagging and meta data to draw together content from across big themes and unanswered questions.
And the role of the tutor or information professional?
- Maximise discoverability – put content where people are looking – e.g. Google, Flickr, iTunes
- Make content available in smaller, more usable chunks, allowing users to create the context
- Ensure that students and academics have the skills to work with these resources
- Develop a clear policy on licensing outputs and apply it broadly across all their activities.