Friday, February 18, 2005

More Future of Learning

No time to craft clever connectors for these additional ideas about the future of learning:

Thursday, February 17, 2005

More Lifestyle Learning

Is Yourself Fitness a game, a simulation, or one of the most interesting e-learning applications I've heard of yet? It runs on the Xbox, but it's different than the usual game or simulation -- there's no storyline or environment to explore. Perhaps it's most like an instructional video on huge digital steroids, complete with a gorgeous virtual personal trainer (Maya fan club, anyone?) who learns about you, teaches you how to do new exercises and customizes your workout each time to keep you progressing, focusing on different areas and staying motivated. You choose the visual background and music for the workout.

Before this becomes a nauseating ad for software I've never actually used, I should say a bit about why this interests me:
  • it seems like a great example of "lifestyle learning" using technology to achieve specific self-directed goals -- informal learning, but meaningful and integrated into peoples' lives
  • running it on a gaming console stretches our idea of what they're for -- why shouldn't the Xbox go beyond games to be a music system, DVD player, personal trainer, digital storage device, communications center, etc?
  • Maya is a virtual teacher of one very specific subject area, but couldn't she guide people through almost any kind of learning activity in a way that took the learner's needs into account? Inviting users to participate in different ways, both within virtual environments and in their homes or schools? Connecting learners to experts or each other? Taking advantage of webquest-like research activities?
  • educational CD ROMs were supposed to be the next big thing 15 years ago, but the technology has come a long way since then. Production values matter -- if the graphics are fabulous, the characters compelling and the music rocks and the pacing is stand to keep people more engaged
Thanks to Gwen for the link.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Learning Civic Engagement

Late last year, George linked to a neat post about the ladder of participation. He noted the parallel to learning:"Many courses are structured to give the instructor control (treating the learners as 'objects' to be manipulated into a place of 'right thinking and knowing'). Moving up the ladder, however, learners gain control over their learning."

I like the connection to learning, and I'm also connecting with it the way it was originally intended -- as a model for civic engagement. I've started an experiment in online activism in the last few weeks that is primarily educational, but not in the formal sense. Summerland (the town I live in) is in the process of revising their official community plan (OCP), and there has been a fair bit of conflict surrounding the desired rate of growth and types of developments the residents want to encourage.

The more I found out about it, the more I realized how little I knew about the background to the main issues: preservation of agricultural land, water supply, NIMBYism, infrastructure spending, sprawl, and commercial development. So a few of us started up a simple blog to collect and share ideas as we're learning about the issues -- it's called Summerland Citizens. It's intensely local, but is already providing connections I hadn't thought possible.

One thing that's interesting about the process is that although you have to be pretty motivated to start something like this, once it's rolling, it motivates you to learn more, connects you to more interested people, and gives you a sense of belonging that is harder to initiate without the web. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Teachers as Consultants

Thanks to Seb for sending me this vision of teachers as consultants. It brings to mind my current beef with this idea of creating a national daycare program in Canada -- why duplicate the mistakes of institutionalized schooling with younger kids?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Future of Learning

I've hardly been writing about technology these days, instead focusing on how our perceptions about learning are changing. I think technology (especially the web) is at the root of much of this thinking, changing our relationship with information and putting individuals in charge of their learning. There are so many good thought spinning around this concept that I'm barely keeping up. Stephen Harlow tied together a bunch of great posts on the subject, including this article by author Philip Pullman, which is chock full of great ideas about how writing should be learned. A sample:
"It's when we do this foolish, time-consuming, romantic, quixotic, childlike thing called play that we are most practical, most useful, and most firmly grounded in reality, because the world itself is the most unlikely of places, and it works in the oddest of ways, and we won't make any sense of it by doing what everybody else has done before us. It's when we fool about with the stuff the world is made of that we make the most valuable discoveries, we create the most lasting beauty, we discover the most profound truths. The youngest children can do it, and the greatest artists, the greatest scientists do it all the time. Everything else is proofreading."
Pat Kane linked to the same article last week and added another quote I liked: "true education flowers at the point when delight falls in love with responsibility". And finally, Will Richardson has been on fire with his thinking about the future of learning, and this post (bouncing off this one) really nails it: Curriculum as Conversation. Pulling the Cluetrain Manifesto's ethos into education is exciting and necessary.

Our Media and Digital Lifestyle Aggregators

Marc Canter's stuff about new web applications and the business of the web is always interesting, even when I can't figure out how it necessarily applies to anything I'm doing or thinking about. In the last few days, he had a couple of posts that stood out. The first was his link to someone who's understanding and articulating what he's trying to do with his digital lifestyle aggregator concept.

The second post is obviously related, revealing a bit more about his plans for How does this sound for a sweeping vision?
"Folks will be able to upload video, audio, images and text - attach all sorts of meta-data and tags to their published work - and then share it within a community - using internal messages, buddies, forums, personal pages - yes - that's right - a social network for media trading and sharing. CC licenses are built in, storing it all at the Internet Archives - free, free - absolutely free. Free storage. Free bandwidth. Free culture."
So if it works as well as it sounds it might, why couldn't it be used to run courses and create e-portfolios? It sounds like David's learning landscape application (elgg), but on a potentially massive scale.