We have the ideas and the technologies – what changes in the system do we need for Open Education?

December 17th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The education system does not work

Last week in a post entitled “If PLEs are Incompatible with the System, how do we Change the System?”, I argued that our present systems are unable to keep up with the requirements of society and of industry for learning and knowledge development.  Curricula cannot keep pace with the speed of technological and social innovation and the skills and knowledge required by today’s technology cannot be delivered through a rigidly sytematised, market led educational system.  Present education systems cannot support lifelong learning and it will cost too much to extend the present model of institutional education to deliver the learning required by the present phase of capitalism.I could – and should – have added that in many countries there is still not free access to basic education – let alone to higher education. Even in advanced economies such as the UK students are expected to contribute towards the cost of their education resulting in many leaving higher education with large debts. There is an assumption that they will do this because of the premium this places on their earning power but research shows this premium to be eroding. And such a premium is based on the differential between them and those without higher education; if everyone has equal access to learning then such additional income would disappear.

An emergent alternative

If the present systems cannot be extended to deliver education for all and lifelong learning is there an alternative? I believe we have an emergent alternative based on the use of new technologies and on radical changes in pedagogy.

Open Educational Resources

Lets start with learning materials or educational resources. We are moving from a position of scarcity to one of abundance through the rapid development of Open Educational Resources and internet based media. Books, videos, audio,learning materials, research papers, journals can all be accessed through the internet. Critically the development of cheap sub laptop computers and of handheld devices (plus the soon to emerge, cheap electronic book readers) and increasing access to internet access, provide a wealth of easily accessible educational resources. Such media are socially and economically sustainable through the very numbers of people contributing to their development and publication. There are still issues over quality and discovery but these issues are far from unresolvable.

Social Networks

Secondly, social networks allow us a forum and social space for shared and peer group learning. We are no longer dependent on the classroom based expert learning model of the past. Just by following Twitter isit is possible to find every day streamed conferences and seminars with free online access. More importantly teh culture of free and open education is spreading. A number of educational social networking sites allow anyone to offer courses and anyone to attend. Whilst some are based on business models involving fees, it seems more likely we will move in the direction of free online education. Early Open Educational resource sites are increasingly looking at enhancing teaching and learning provision to support the materials they are posting online.But most critically, social networking allows us to find and collaborate with people who share a similar interest – and that can include a similar interest in learning. As early as 1970, Illich put forward a vision that people would send a postcard to a central address expressing there learning interests and that a mainframe computer would match up their interests with others and arrange them a meeting with such people. Now that process can be expidited through online social media and geographical location technologies could allow us to meet up face to face with those people with similar interests in our geographical vicinity.

Curricula

One of the barriers to such self driven and social learning has been centrally controlled and regulated curricula. Here too, the use of social media is leading to new ideas of community driven, emergent curricula based on the model of the Rhizome. Learning will not so much be driven by enrolment on a officially prescribed course or curricula, but in participation in learning as part of a community of practice where bodies and tenets of knowledge are changing, emergent and transparent.

Participation in courses and programmes of learning also has a social element. But here too, we have an alternative model. Massive On-line Open Courses (MOOCs) offer a model for the scalable delivery of courses and programmes, and more importantly for the organisation of social interaction around such courses, both online through blogs, wikis, online seminars, internet radio, MUVEs etc. and face to face through geographically located study groups and circles.

Personal Learning Environments

A further piece in the jigsaw is the move towards Personal Learning Environments. PLEs are important in allowing individuals to organise and manage their own learning, regardless of where that learning takes place. PLEs can provide a framework for scaffolding and reflection on learning.

Changing the system

Put all the parts together and we have a new model, a model which can extend learning to all those who want it and support lifelong learning. A model which is affordable and scalable. But of course it requires imagination and change to implement such a model.

There are four key changes we need to take.

The first is in the role of teachers. Teachers are important for guiding and supporting learning. Teachers are a precious and scarce resource. Too much to their time at present is pent delivery front of the class learning and lecturing. If we could increase social and peer group learning and free up teachers time, then we should be able to provide open access for teachers to all who require such support.

The second is assessment. present methods and approaches to assessment are one of the biggest barriers to new and more radical pedagogic approaches. If assessment was seen as part of the learning process, rather than as a process of measuring what people do not know, assessment could become an integral and important part of a new system.If education and learning are integrated in society, then assessment can become authentic within everyday living and working situations.

The third is the role of schools and the design of learning environments. The schooling system has become institutionalised. the vast resources used to support and maintain school buildings and facilities could better be used supporting learning within the community. Schools should be opened to learners of all ages providing guidance and support for learning. But schools are not the only place in which we learn. It is widely accepted that much of our learning is informal. Yet we do little to enhance working and community environments to support that learning. The working environment is not juts the physical surrounding but the deign of work tasks and the work organisation. For learning to be effective we need opportunities to put that learning onto action. We need a holistic approahc to learning environments. A positive outcome of deschooling society is to introduce learning in the wider spheres of activity in our societies.

The final change is in accreditation. There is little point in developing learning in the workplace and in the community and encouraging the development of Open Educational Resources and Personal Learning environments, if access to future opportunities is reliant on accreditation which can only be obtained through participation in prescribed courses. Accreditation can and should be based on presentation of evidence of learning and competence, based on our e-Portfolios and participation in learning activities. Of course, this may require some forms of presentation, in electronic and other media and may require expert and peer testimonial. This is not so much of a technical change, but a change in how we view the validation and recognition of learning.

Of course these are radical chnages. But the main point of this post was to say that we have the ideas and the technologies to support an alternative to the present education systems, systems which are failing so many indiviidals and failing society as a whole.

MOOCs might prove a practical answer?

November 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I had a fascinating meeting with two representatives of a Bejing school district last night. They are in Bremen as part of a European programme which including other things is developing a programme for the Continuing Professional Development of vocational teachers in the city.
They came to visit us to discuss e-learning and how the use of new technologies might help in their project.
The big issue that emerged was that of the scale of they challenge they face. Most of the teachers in vocational schools have received no pedagogic training at all, gong straight from university to become a teacher. Because of pressures on the system, the CPD programme is being organised out of school hoursd. Attendance is voluntary. And the teachers are keen. A recent seminar held on a Sunday attracted more than 800 particpants! The biggest issue is that there are not enough resources to organise a tradtional CPD programme. There are simply too many teachers who want to participate and not enough trainers. And that is when we started thinking about Massively Open On-line Courses (MOOCs). The infrastructure and access to networks and computers is relatively good in Bejing. Teachers are open to new ideas. Could we organise a programme that combined face to face events with on-line provision open to all who wished to attend? How could support be organised? What kind of platforms and tools would be required?
I started out as a sceptic about MOOCs but the meeting last night has changed my thinking.
If you are interested in hearing more about the project, we recorded a quick podcast with the Chinese colleagues and we will try to get this online in the next couple of days.

MOOCs, Connectivism, Humpty Dumpty and more – with Dave Cormier

November 9th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Last weeks Emerging Mondays seminar was on the topic of MOOCs and Open Course Models. The speaker was Dave Cormier from the University of Prince Edward Island.

Dave spoke about his experiences, so far, of the CCK MOOC on Connectivism and Connected Knowledge, the technological platforms being used to support participants, the tensions that exist within the course design and the peer support models that are being embraced.  Dave’s introduction led to a wide ranging discussion including the nature and furture of courses and communities, issues of scale, how to support learners, open accreditation and the future of open education – and …Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland!

If you missed the session – or would like to hear it again – we are providing you with three different versions. You can watch a replay of the event in Elluminate. This provides you with access to the sidebar chat discussion as well as to the audio.

Or – if you are short of time you can listen to an MP3 podcast of Dave’s introduction.

Or you can listen to the full session inline or on your MP3 player.

This is the link to the Elluminate version.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    Social Media




    News Bites

    Cyborg patented?

    Forbes reports that Microsoft has obtained a patent for a “conversational chatbot of a specific person” created from images, recordings, participation in social networks, emails, letters, etc., coupled with the possible generation of a 2D or 3D model of the person.


    Racial bias in algorithms

    From the UK Open Data Institute’s Week in Data newsletter

    This week, Twitter apologised for racial bias within its image-cropping algorithm. The feature is designed to automatically crop images to highlight focal points – including faces. But, Twitter users discovered that, in practice, white faces were focused on, and black faces were cropped out. And, Twitter isn’t the only platform struggling with its algorithm – YouTube has also announced plans to bring back higher levels of human moderation for removing content, after its AI-centred approach resulted in over-censorship, with videos being removed at far higher rates than with human moderators.


    Gap between rich and poor university students widest for 12 years

    Via The Canary.

    The gap between poor students and their more affluent peers attending university has widened to its largest point for 12 years, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

    Better-off pupils are significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers. And the gap between the two groups – 18.8 percentage points – is the widest it’s been since 2006/07.

    The latest statistics show that 26.3% of pupils eligible for FSMs went on to university in 2018/19, compared with 45.1% of those who did not receive free meals. Only 12.7% of white British males who were eligible for FSMs went to university by the age of 19. The progression rate has fallen slightly for the first time since 2011/12, according to the DfE analysis.


    Quality Training

    From Raconteur. A recent report by global learning consultancy Kineo examined the learning intentions of 8,000 employees across 13 different industries. It found a huge gap between the quality of training offered and the needs of employees. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said they , with only 16 per cent of employees finding the learning programmes offered by their employers effective.


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

    The comparison (or contradiction) between performance and learning deserves more attention twitter.com/neilmosley5/st…

    About 15 hours ago from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Twitter for Mac

  • @CiaranBurkeSoc I ordered them all to the university's library this week so students will be invited to read them soon enough 🤭

    About 11 hours ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter Web App

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Categories