It's all so good to talk about new media, 2.0, participation, collaboration, real-time web, mashing-up, agile development, remixing, or lifestreaming but what value do these discoveries have when as soon as we turn our heads home and to our kids we still force them to go through an education system that embraces none of such fantastic discoveries?
Photo credit: Dmitriy Shironosov
Why has it that advertising, marketing and new media have been able to rapidly deeply transform their own survival paradigms and have embraced principles exactly opposite to those that made them rich before but none of the discoveries and realizations we have made in this paradigm shift have contaminated our world wide educational system?
Too early to ask?
Why? Is it because we have often no direct business interest in education? Or is it because we have long stopped asking some good questions about what kind of value such school systems really provide?
The tacit assumption here is that it is that we have been realizing for a while that true, useful, memorable learning takes place when there are conditions and a setting very different from the one offered by a classroom: Focus on the learning, not on the teaching, getting away from information stuffing and realizing the value of direct understanding and engagement, discovery work, exploration, opportunity to make lots of mistakes, interaction with elders / experts, passionate peers, are just some key elements we have realized make a true difference in creating a setting where true learning can take place.
And the internet itself offers so many great opportunities to bring together those who really want to learn with those who know and want to share.
Why then do we need to compromise for second-hand experts and hand over the greatest amount of official learning time our kids will spend with someone whose only credentials are mostly made up of certifications of tests sHe has taken?
Given the times, wouldn't reputation and work produced be better "metrics"?
I think it is about time that each kid wanting to learn something seriously should have the opportunity to do so by accessing the real world, he is supposedly being prepared for, and being granted a passport to access it as an explorer / assistant / lurker / collaborator depending on the situation. Newsrooms can open up to those who want to learn how to online media, just as much as a shoe shop or an auto mechanic can reserve days or time slots for having people who are there to watch, help, learn.
For what are more theoretical matters students should be free to choose their teachers, and not be forced to be matched by sheer chance to instructors and peers who have nothing do with their interests and preferences. If the learner is the one who needs to come out with something of value from this long forced confined training, sHe should at least have the option to choose from whom to be instructed and be given the opportunity to do that learning path with other people cultivating the same interest and preference. Or not?
Collaboration, conferencing and video technologies offer the opportunity to any student to potentially attend and make up a personalized curriculum of instructors and experts to learn from that doesn't require moving to Stanford, California, nor to wake up everything morning at 5 to take a train and two lousy buses. Or not?
So, what's up everyone? Besides the few guys out there spending serious time researching and lecturing on today's educational challenges what are you doing to harmonize a little more what you have learned in the world of media and communication to the universe of learning and education your kids are immersed into?
Feel free to shoot me back your criticism or ideas in the comments section of this post, and allow me to share with you a first short set of very brief video clips I have asked a few friends to record while I was preparing my LeWeb08 presentation: Howard Rheingold, Jay Cross, Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Nancy White, Gerd Leonhard and Teemu Arina have all accepted to record a few short videos for me while addressing some of the issues relating to our educational system and its future.
In this first part (tomorrow Part 2) my questions are targeted at understanding what kind of education system we have, what do we really get out of it, and whether the infinite exams, tests and pieces of paper we get from them are really useful for living a successful / meaningful life.
Well, here are some interesting views to start.
The Paradox of 2.0 - Robin Good
What I Learned in the School System - George Siemens
Most of what I've learned in the formal education system, especially at a K-12 level, doesn't necessarily have a huge impact to where I am and what I am doing today.
If I was to say what's the one skill that's most critical, I'd have to say typing. That's the one skill that I learned in K-12 system that, to this day, serves me on a daily ongoing basis.
Otherwise, so much of what I need today, I encounter, whether it's a skill that I need to develop, which is driven by passion and interest, sometimes by work requirements, or whether it's knowledge that I need to complete a particular task, whether it's in work or just through my personal hobby or interest, almost everything that I use on a regular basis today has come as a result of me wanting to learn it, rather than being forced to or being put in a position where it was part of a curriculum.
So if anything, our schools system today should foster the creation of a passion, it should encourage individuals to pursue what it is that they most love doing and eliminate barriers to achieving what people actually want to do.
Are Schools Useful Learning Environments? - Jay Cross
..... is what I've learned in school.
Schools are for socialization, not for learning.
I was happy to have a good sendoff with school, but I have learned more in every six months on the Web that I've learned for instance in Princeton and Harvard, I can tell you that.
It's not what people teach anyway, It's what people learn, and learning is the responsibility of the learner not the teacher.
I'm a little down on universities, although I know it's good to have resource centers and things like that, but increasingly the knowledge of the past is not the wisdom of the future.
What Interests Do Universities Serve? - Gerd Leonhard
"Whose interest do school and universities currently serve?"
I think of course in many cases they kind of serve their own interest and... well, maybe not entirely serving their own interest, but it is something of course that has become a self-perpetuating thing.
I think academia general needs to really open up and see what's out there in terms of knowledge and intelligence that's not part of this kind of world yet.
To me learning is something that goes on everywhere between people, not between authorized professionals. Of course the question of quality comes up here. I think that is a real concern that we create peer pressure, so to speak, about quality and merit which we have on the Web in many cases.
I do think that there's a huge trend towards the Web becoming the open learning platform. I hope it's not going all be about "Google.edu", but chances are that is going to be a substantial part of it.
What Kind of Education Do We Get in Schools? - Nancy White
"What kind of education do we get in today's school?"
I think I'd have to turn the camera around at my son to answer that question, but I know that by watching as a parent, I'm worried about what I see in school, I see people trying to get in the "test score mode" rather than really learning.
And if learning is to become a life-long practice, which I believe it is, we need to change the way we're teaching in schools.
Whose Interests Are Universities Serving? - Teemu Arina
"Whose interest schools and universities serve?"
I think that schools who have adapted something like learning management systems, are not really serving learning, but they're serving teaching and control.
And from that point of view, these systems are none the best methods for learning. There are more like good methods for managing people, courses, information. But not learning.
On the Web people have been talking about personal learning environments. That's the idea that you construct your own learning environment. And in that world I see the future of these institutions and universities to be more like learning resource centers.
Where you go, it provides a meaningful environment networks, and the people who are working on these things, may be even coaches who can help you to find the right communities, sort of tap into the right information. This come up with your own way of understanding these things.
It's about scaffolding. These institutions will be about scaffolding, and it's not a tight-up environment with walls, but rather part of a network itself and interacting with the networks at the same time.
Do We All Need a Degree to Be Successful? - Nancy White
My son's going to take this video, so he's going to love this one.
The question is: "Do my sons need a degree and why?".
This is a really interesting question because both my sons stepped out of schools and one is going back.
I think there's this push in the US that you need a degree in order to make a decent wage.
But I look at what I do now, and a lot of what I do now has been formed by things I've learned since I left school.
So, I think it depends on how motivated you are and how much you're an ongoing learner.
I think there's definitely a place for certain kinds of degrees but... everybody? I don't know!
Will We Need Degrees in the Future? - Teemu Arina
"Would someone need a degree in the future?"
I think in the future we will learn from multiple sources, from multiple people, from multiple information systems, and also from the past as well as current future.
In that world we will also provide degrees not based on one single source: the university. But we will gather these fragments which happen in interactions online.
When I'm going to one school, to one course, to one conference like LeWeb, or I'm blogging, whatever these different events are, someone could go through that and provide me some kind of evaluation for my future boss: "This guy has been really thinking about these things many years." It's not just what he's done and written down, and what kind of numbers you got in tests, but also what other people are saying about him.
It's also about what other people say about you, what is your impact on the network, and how you manage to do that impact, that is going to get you forward.
Will We Need Degrees and Certificates? - Stephen Downes
We can ask: "Do my sons or my daughters need a degree to get ahead in tomorrow's world?", and the question really depends on what they're trying to do.
if they're going to be involved in academic employment where they'll be judged, lacking if they don't have a degree, then they're going to have to get that piece of paper. That's a matter of pragmatic practicality.
But if they are involved in creative or artistic fields, in fields where your work is your calling card, where you can prove your worth with good code, good work, good writing, whatever, then NO, they are not going to get a degree.
I think in the future we're going to see more and more scope for employment in the creative fields, and less for employments in more traditionally academic fields.
So I think they'll be able to get by without a degree. But, again, it would depend on their choices.
Special thanks go to the kindness and generous sharing attitude of my friends:
Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano -
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia and first published on January 6, 2009 as "Education And Learning: A Paradigm Shift? - Part 1 - Is Our Educational System Broken?"