When I wrote Shifting Education, I had already outlined this post in my head. It was going to be a diatribe on how learning needs to shift away from the front of the room, the teacher, and into the hands and the minds of the learner. But I’ve written time & again & again about that. Worthy of mentioning as well is Subbaraman Iyer’s post that looks at the Educational Approach vs the Learning Approach.
My shifting learning post has shifted away from this theme.
George Siemens wrote: “Could you post a video/drawing/audio recording/dance routine/cave drawing/clay pot that represents your vision of the future of education?”
… and it occurred to me that what I should be looking at when talking about ‘Shifting Learning’ is the direction we are shifting to in the future, more-so than now. I tried to do as George asked and represent this in something other than words. I spent a couple hours playing with a slide show of images and now I’m just going to salvage the title page to share with you as a frame for what I’ll write about. This isn’t a crystal ball look into the future, instead it is my perception of some key trends that will have a powerful impact on how learning will be shared in the future.
Trends that will influence the Future of Education
Let’s take a ‘T.R.I.P. into the Future’ looking at some changes that are shifting learning in a way not possible just a few years ago. Here are 4 trends that education is moving towards: Greater Transparency, greater Responsibility, greater Individualization and greater Permanence.
Assumption: Ubiquitous Connectivity. It’s coming. I can’t wait!
When I created my Science Alive wiki and decided to share what I was doing on an open wiki, I was keenly aware that I was opening my classroom to the world. That changed my practice. If I were to do it again it would be 100 times better because I openly looked at the feedback and shared my lessons learned on my blog.
Teaching ‘openly’ empowers educational leaders to be educational co-learners. It isn’t about sharing lessons, its about sharing the process and the progress we are making in providing meaningful learning opportunities. Transparency is changing teaching practice into a perpetual learning practice.
Transparency also increases a learner’s ability to seek what they are looking for and to find learning opportunities they really want. We will see more individualized learning opportunities for students as they ‘shop around’ and follow personal interests, (more on individualization later).
There will also be more transparency of both quality and expectations. Weak teachers won’t be able to hide. In my opinion this transparency of practice only need be feared if your practice gives reason to fear. Best practice is still just practice and this is not about being perfect, but openly demonstrating that you are striving to improve.
I’ve looked at Facebook (twice) and awareness of cyberbullying too. I’ve told people to stop blaming mismanagement on the tool. I’ve event told people to get off their butts. But responsibility isn’t just about caution and warnings… it’s also about extending yourself and thoughtfully taking chances.
Hargreaves speaks of Responsibility before Accountability. This is a good shift. A move that takes us away from standardization and moves us to greater individualization of a student’s learning experience. We will also see more expectations on students to be active participants in their learning rather than passive targets of learning.
From the ‘Access’ section in my post: Opportunities, Access & Obstacles:
• Our lives are open, public and on display.
…you can… produce, publish, print and share what ever you want with the world.
• Online networks help to define us.
My Blog, My Flickr, My Space, My Facebook, My Friends, My Profile, My Second Life, My del.icio.us, MyBlogLog, My Ning Network, My Twitter, My-Whole-Life-Connected-and-On-Display-For-Anyone-And-Everyone-To-See…
• Growing access to customizable tools and networks.
…With regards to digital tools, it is noteworthy that the focus seems to be on mobile and connected devices, in an environment that favors personalization/customization AND networking/connectedness at the same time.”
• Personalized learning that responds to a learner’s needs.
[For example]…The instructor knows when a student is stumped and activates extra teaching modules on the specific subject.”
• Life extended beyond the physical world.
We will find ourselves engaging in, and fully integrating with, a digital universe — a metaverse — “This ubiquitous cloud of information is like electricity to children of the 20th century: essentially universal, expected and conspicuous only in its absence.”
We are going to be looking at a lot more individualization of school work and expectations, assignments, and even programs in the future. And what I’ve mentioned so far hasn’t even considered how augmented identities could help us personalize learning.
This is a catch-all for the other 3 trends. With respect to Transparency we will be seeing not just the progress of an assignment or a class or a school year, but the progress of one’s life of learning. This blog encapsulates 4 years of my thinking about education, technology and learning. Add to this my comments, my flickr account, my tweets, my linkedIn profile, my many other profiles, and you get My-Whole-Life-Connected-and-On-Display-For-Anyone-And-Everyone-To-See…
For me that’s 4 years worth of information, for a kid today that could be close to 20 years worth of information when they are entering the work force. This puts a huge Responsibility on students at a young age to think about their digital footprint… something we need to actively teach about, and offer guidance, advice and consequences for mismanaging… That’s our responsibility as educators, parents and community members.
An interesting thing that I think we’ll start to see is Individualized Learning Spaces being created to store a student’s learning journeys outside of individual classes, schools and districts. A school should not own a child’s learning ‘products’, (things they create and produce for school). Companies like Youtube and Wikispaces and Edublogs shouldn’t own them either. I don’t know how far away we are from this, but I do think we’ll see individualized repositories for people’s learning that scrapes all the public learning profiles and stores them in one place (a personal digital dossier). This would be further individualized by the learner, then end user, in how they prioritize and present the information provided.
As these trends amplify over the next few years, we can embrace them or fear them, but they aren’t going away. They all move us towards a more participatory future where what we do is documented and ultimately stored in a very public way. Learning is shifting away from the confines of the classroom and into the realm of the public domain. The shift is happening now and if we aren’t shifting the learning experience for students then what kind of education are we giving them?
This is Part II of a 3 part series.
Part I: Shifting Education
Part III: Shifting Attitudes