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The Future of Learning Environments

April 23rd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

A short conclusion to this weeks mini series of posts on the Future of Learning Environments.

In this series we have argued that the present ‘industrial’ schooling system is fast becoming dysfunctional, neither providing the skills and competences required in our economies nor corresponding to the ways in which we are using the procedural and social aspects of technology for learning and developing and sharing knowledge.We have gone on to propose that the development and use of Personal Learning Networks and Personal Learning Environments can support and mediate individual and group based learning in multiple contexts and promote learner autonomy and control. The role of teachers in such an environment would be to support, model and scaffold learning.

Such an approach will allow the development and exploration of Personal Learning Pathways, based on the interests and needs of the learners and participation in culturally rich collaborative forms of knowledge construction. Such approaches to learning recognise the role of informal learning and the role of context. Schools can only form one part of such collaborative and networked knowledge constellation. Indeed the focus moves from schools as institutional embodiments of learning to focus on the process and forms of learning. Hence institutions must rethink and recast their role as part of community and distributed networks supporting learning and collaborative knowledge development. Indeed, the major impact of the uses of new technologies and social networking for learning is to move learning out of the institutions and into wider society. For schools to continue to play a role in that learning, they too have to reposition themselves within wider social networks and communities. This is a two way process, not only schools reaching outwards, but also opening up to the community, distributed or otherwise, to join in collaborative learning processes.The future development of technology looks likely to increase pressures for such change. Social networks and social networking practice is continuing to grow and is increasingly integrated in different areas of society and economy. At the same time new interfaces to computers and networks are likely to render the keyboard obsolescent, allowing the integration of computers and learning in everyday life and activity. Personal Learning Pathways will guide and mediate progression through this expanded learning environment.

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