A very condensed overview of the thoughts of Stephen Downes on future learning. In New Zealand/Aotearoa we still seem to be in some sort of design mode; we talk about iteration, enquiry, and we amplify structural problems by throwing computer power or better WiFi at schools. The challenge is deeper; it's actually a societal question that must in some part transcend the politics of the day, but politicians are too embedded in our secondary education system, they're implicit in it, and their neo-liberal logic means schools are the babysitters of capitalism, not cauldrons of intellect or innovation. I believe we can change this, but we need to think on it more like Downes and less like Hekia Parata.
Speculative thoughts on a personalised learning environment for NZ schools.
A truly personalised learning environment would consists of: a platform, a paradigm, and a pedagogy (The 3 Ps).
Some features of the Platform:
Digital - Seems pretty straightforward but ... everything is digital. I join, I sign-in, I aggregate, I share, I create, and I'm assessed digitally. (This "I" should probably learn how to type as a pre-requisite, it replaces penmanship and is part of an expanded digital literacy. How young can you learn now to type? Primary school?)
Data - Curriculum (in NZ, NCEA standards) is incredibly valuable - it creates the matrix through which I can track my progress. Personalisation depends on being able to view your learning accomplishments, your requirements, and your needs and interests from a birds eye view in relation to what is considered accomplished in a particular subject area. Collecting aggregating, and presenting this data is large part of this; as is protecting it. But it's not "data driven", in the sense that this is not about algorithms dictating to me. It's not Spotify, but it might be Pandora (in case you're a music geek.) The fact that I'm also creating digitally means I'm creating more data. This requires a big-data strategy. Big Data is not just the realm of scientists; but it does require computational expertise to be applied. Schools not only need pipes to carry data, they also need expertise. We need fully digital hi-tech librarians perhaps.
Social - School is a social experience. My peers are there to help and support me (this is behavior that teachers and community need to model online ... please!) They may be at different stages in the same journey, and are connected via strong and weak network bonds (see: interpersonal ties). Social includes the community outside of school. Yes, real people in real life. Just because it's all digital doesn't mean I don't get my fingers dirty.
Visualization - data about me needs to be able to be viewed from a variety of perspectives, and in ways responsive to the needs of the user. For example, an administrator, a counselor, a parent, and a teacher may wish to view data in a variety of formats that are relevant and make sense to them. Visualization needs to be in real time. It's not about surveillance. I don't see this as tracking progress in the traditional sense. It's about mapping. How can I help steer you towards resources, goals, and people? How can I know you and the thousand others?
There is definitely an ePortfolio like element to this, but the problem with the current ePortfolios I have observed are that they are not much more than content management systems for user generated documents. There is no intelligence built into them, they are tied to the desktop, and they are begrudgingly social. The platform needs to be geo-spatially aware and mobile as well because we are creating modern learning environments where learning and support for learning may be targeted towards specifically designed architectural spaces (the majority of school buildings in NZ were built between 1950 and 1970). Being geo-spatially aware also alerts the user to the proximity of peers. I will "check-in" to the library and "check-out" digital books. The point is to pair devices and their owners.
This is a quick brain dump, not a plan, or a blog post even. Add your thoughts in the comments if you care to.
#edchatnz is a group of New Zealand teachers who meet on Twitter every second Thursday at 8:30pm NZ time to talk about teaching and technology. They're also using blogger to capture the twitter stream that ensues as well as summarizing the evenings discussion. Here's their latest discussion:
edchatnz: Networking 101: The Topic: Networking 101: Why bother networking as a teacher? How does networking affect your teaching?
Pond is being promoted as a hub for digital discovery and participation, where educational resources can be accessed and shared more easily and effectively. While I appreciate that it is handy to have some reputable sources (and hopefully ones' that encourage Creative Commons licensing) that are by default searchable through the site, I'm also hoping that Pond will also allow users to aggregate from other resources as well. NZ seems to be sorely lacking in the development of a social platform for teachers to use to help with planning around our particular curriculum requirements and if Pond can fill that gap I think it will be a great investment for education generally and an invaluable space for teachers.
Series of recorded Google Hangouts by Alexander Hayes of his interaction with the Google Glass Explorers Community and other related contacts from industry, research and affiliated organisations. The intent of this research activity is to gain an understanding of the key motivations, experiences and understandings that these individuals gain from engaging with this emergent wearable technology.