In my previous post I explained how the status quo industrialised version of education needs revolution. I mentioned Ivan Illich's book 'Deschooling Society'. Here is another excerpt:
The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his/her living into one of learning,sharing, and caring.
So what of these 'educational webs'? Clearly we (and by 'we' I mean
educational institutions in general) have made a tentative start - the interweb
has potential with elearning (electronic learning). So does video-conferencing.
So does distance learning. So does mlearning (mobile learning). But so far it's
been piecemeal and on a very small scale and really limited and, for various
reasons, hasn't challenged our industrial status quo at all. For instance there
is a tension in my school between appropriate use and inappropriate use of
technologies. There is also a tension between advising students on distance
learning/video-conferencing and allowing them the freedom of choice.
Anyway this doesn't feel revolutionary. And what about the good bits of
what we offer? The subject specialists, the facilities and resources? Do we junk
all of that? Well no, we don't. Illich again:
A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives;
empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public
with the opportunity to make their challenge known.
So... we need a smarter way of freeing up our tight control of timetables and classes and the other aspects of the industrial model that I wrote about last time, while providing access to available resources, empowerment to teachers and learners, and an opportunity of expression (imagination is more important than information - so said Einstein!).
Yep fine (apart from it being a really long sentence). But what?
Last year I heard an address by Patrick Duigan. He talked about the concept of “learning spaces” which is heavily influenced by technology and gave an example of a development by a company in Sydney called LandLease who are developing 10 x 30,000 home communities in Western Sydney where schools are being reconfigured into “learning communities”. The entire community is to be networked and businesses who want to be involved have to sign on to be part of that “learning community”.
Blended learning seems an exciting prospect to me. Here's a brief description of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning
This aligns with some aspects of experimental Canadian schools that I heard about at a SPANZ conference in 2008. Students, in these schools, arrive in the morning and select their day's programme from a menu of courses placed around the school. They then attend tutorials that incorporate 'face-to-face' sessions with access to other technologies. Teachers are called 'facilitators'.
This is the inquiry model at work. No industrialised classes in rows. What it does do is place the responsibility for learning squarely on the learner. Hallelujah!!