So there seems to be a little string of really good blog posts that are laying out some definite re-vision of what schools can look like. This one, by Bill Farren, fits nicely with those Mark Pesce posts that I’ve been drifting in and out of here and here. But with Bill’s post the graphics are almost too good for description. How’s this for a visual on networked learning?
And I just love this description:
Opening up the institution may seem like a counter-intuitive way of protecting it, but in an era where tremendous value is being created by informal and self-organized groups, sharing becomes the simplest and most powerful way of connecting with external learning opportunities. Why limit students to one teacher when a large number of them exist outside the institution? Why limit students to a truncated classroom conversation when a much larger one is taking place all over the world? Why not give students real-world opportunities to learn how to manage and benefit from networked sources?Â Institutions that are opening up are betting that the benefits obtained by sharing their resources will outweigh the expenses incurred in their creation. These institutions understand that larger and richer sources of knowledge and wisdom are to be found outside their walls. They understand that allowing students to access these sources, sharing their own, and helping students learn how to manage and understand all of it, will add value to what it is that they do as institutions.
Again, this is higher ed context more than K-12, but I think there is much to think about here… Has me wondering what, realistically, we can expect from schools not just in terms of opening up their eyes to confront what is in front of them but then re-envisioning themselves accordingly. Funny, but as I read more and more of this, I grow increasingly excited and increasingly skeptical all at once.
Britt Watwood says
I love both the description and the graphic. I think you meant to link to Bill Farren’s post but no link came through. Could you add it in the comments?
Will Richardson says
Linked now. Sorry.
Somewhere there’s an existing whitepaper that outlines this idea very well:
– students guide their own learning with strong connections to existing global conversations and online experts
– classroom teachers transition from lecturers to guides that help students develop their individual plans and connect with online resources
I understand what you mean about excited and skeptical…but I think I’m excited that it’s probably the best way forward and skeptical that we’ll be able to get rid of the red tape and nay-sayers. 🙁
Terry Elliott says
I have been mulling over the idea of teacher as learning broker for a long time. Wouldn’t it be great to work within an organization that helps its members learn continuously and without prejudice as to what is learned? I want that job.
I am also thinking about the distinction between formal and informal learning. We are already moving toward an equalization of the two. Or perhaps it is the complete blurring of the notion that formal learning is valued more than informal learning. I am in a newly designed doctoral program which is beginning to value learning outside the institutional channels. In fact, because it is partly practicum-based it must value the informal. This means that I am drawing on “external” sources like the Downes/Siemens massively online Connectivism Course and MIT’s OpenCourseWare as part of my doctoral education
Of course, this begs us to consider whether anything or everything is external to one’s learning. The graphic above shows us just how fluid our learning world has become as the degrees of separation and the “node-ness” of the world is revealed, like the dichotomies of informal/formal and internal/external, to be another illusion cast upon the walls of Plato’s cave.
Will Richardson says
Always good to hear your perspective. I’m sure you’ve read it, but I’ve been coming back to Jay Cross’s “Informal Learning” book again and again as a great guide to thinking about all of this. I highly recommend it.
Btw, I love the term “node-ness”. I add “nodey” as well. ;0)
I also like the illustration. I have been using a wiki this year, and am amazed at the fear of other teachers using that learning platform. I have contacted teachers in other states (where students have relocated too) as well as teachers within my own building. The initial reaction is a backing away. It seems like the twilight zone to them, very unsettling for sure.
I teach multimedia for high schools, but I’ve changed it up a bit. I use the desktop programs, then introduce comparable web 2.0 (web-based) programs, and we then wiki – discussing, embedding, linking etc. Thank you to Go2Web2.0.net – great directory! Anyway, I feel my students have a broader grasp of communicating and truely utilizing the web.
IMO, I don’t think a massive re-org of our system to a new technology driven form of education will occur until todays students are the teachers, and maybe more importantly until they are the administrators. It amazes how many teachers still back away and tremble to the thought of changing and incorporating more technology to their curriculum.