10 Principles for the Future of Learning
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10 Principles for the Future of Learning

10 Principles for the Future of Learning

I daydream the future of schooling will include a teacher like this. (It’s too late for me, I know, but I cross my fingers for the sake of my daughter.)

Yoda aside, who better to daydream the future of learning with than the good folks at MIT?  With minds on the front edge of theory, application, and innovation, they’ve shown prescient leadership in harnessing and shaping the emerging trends between technology, media, and learning.

Thanks to funding from the MacArthur Foundation, The MIT Press has published a series on digital media and learning (with open access electronic versions), which they describe this way:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning examines the effect of digital media tools on how people learn, network, communicate, and play, and how growing up with these tools may affect peoples sense of self, how they express themselves, and their ability to learn, exercise judgment, and think systematically.

In their report, The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg investigate the internet’s transformation of shared and interactive learning. They suggest the following 10 principles as “fundamental to the future of learning institutions”.

(The principles in bold are unedited. The corresponding quotes were extracted from their explanation of the principles.)

1. Self Learning

Self-learning has bloomed; discovering online possibilities is a skill now developed from early childhood through advanced adult life.

2. Horizontal Structures

Given the range and volume of information available and the ubiquity of access to information sources and resources, learning strategy shifts  from a focus on information as such to judgment concerning reliable information, from memorizing information to how to find reliable sources. In short, from learning that to learning how, from content to process.

3. From Presumed Authority to Collective Credibility

Learning is shifting from issues of authoritativeness to issues of credibility. A major part of the future of learning is in developing methods, often communal, for distinguishing good knowledge sources from those that are questionable . . . We find ourselves increasingly being moved to interdisciplinary and collaborative knowledge-creating and learning environments in order to address objects of analysis and research problems that are multidimensional and complex, and the resolution of which cannot be fashioned by any single discipline.

4. A De-Centered Pedagogy

In secondary schools and higher education, many administrators and individual teachers have been moved to limit use of collectively and collaboratively crafted knowledge sources, most notably Wikipedia, for course assignments or to issue quite stringent guidelines for their consultation and reference.26 This is a catastrophically anti-intellectual reaction to a knowledge-making, global phenomenon of epic proportions. . .

Instead, leaders at learning institutions need to adopt a more inductive, collective pedagogy that takes advantage of our era.

5. Networked Learning

The power of ten working interactively will almost invariably outstrip the of one looking to beat out the other nine.

6. Open Source Education

Networked learning is predicated on and deeply interwoven into the fabric of open source culture.29 Open source culture seeks to share openly and freely in the creation of culture, in its production processes, and in its product, its content. It looks to have its processes and products improved through the contributions of others by being made freely available to all.

If individualized learning is largely tethered to a social regime of copyright-protected intellectual property and privatized ownership, networked learning is committed in the end to an open source and open content social regime. Individualized learning tends overwhelmingly to be hierarchical: one learns from the teacher or expert, on the basis overwhelmingly of copyright-protected publications bearing the current status of knowledge. Networked learning is at least peer-to-peer and more robustly many-to-many.

7. Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity

The connectivities and interactivities made possible by digitally enabled social networking in its best outcomes produce learning ensembles in which the members both support and sustain, elicit from and expand on each other’s learning inputs, contributions, and products. Challenges are not simply individually faced frustrations, Promethean mountains to climb alone, but mutually shared, to be redefined, solved, resolved, or worked around—together.

8. Lifelong Learning

It has become obvious that from the point of view of participatory learning there is no finality. Learning is lifelong.

9. Learning Institutions as Mobilizing Networks

Network culture and associated learning practices and arrangements suggest that we think of institutions, especially those promoting learning, as mobilizing networks. The networks enable a mobilizing that stresses flexibility, interactivity, and outcome.

10. Flexible Scalability and Simulation

Networked learning both facilitates and must remain open to various scales of learning possibility, from the small and local to the widest and most far-reaching constituencies capable of productively contributing to a domain, subject matter, knowledge formation and creation. New technologies allow for small groups whose members are at physical distance to each other to learn collaboratively together and from each other; but they also enable larger, more anonymous yet equally productive interactions.


43 Comments
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