Learning is emergent, a lifelong pursuit, not relegated to the brick walls of an institution or to a narrow window of time during life; it has no specific end point. The artificial divisions of work, play and education cease to be relevant in the 21st century. Learning begins on a playground and continues perpetually in other playgrounds, individual and shared workspaces, communities and more. Learning can be assessed but doesn’t aim itself exclusively toward assessment.
Even if its [Udacity’s] courses may seem cheaper or more accessible, offering a more viable entree into post-secondary education, they do so by (a) privatizing such an activity among an organization purpose-built to convert the needs of the many into the benefit of the very few and (b) by reframing the social challenges inherent in underserved educational populations as simple problems of content delivery.
“Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online” by Ian Bogost
A good response to the TechCrunch article on how MOOCs will end college as we know it.
We see school as one node in a broader network of learning available to young people, and believe we can call on the untapped capacity in more informal and interest-driven arenas to build more learning supports and opportunities. In an era when our existing educational pathways serve fewer young people, it is critical that we build capacity, opportunity, and new models of success, rather than orient our efforts solely on optimizing the playing field of existing opportunities.
The report notes that colleges will have to rely on more strategic leaders who address these challenges through better use of technology to cut costs, create efficiency in their operations, demonstrate value, reach new markets, and prioritize programs. Many of those efforts could be grounds for disputes with faculty members or other institutional constituents unless leaders can get the collective buy-in that has long been the staple of higher education governance.
I just installed Thoughtback, an app that allows users to enter ideas that the app will send back to you at random at a later date. At first, my interest was personal. For me, it’s a fun way to capture thoughts on having a new baby, who will undoubtedly be different each time I get a “thought back” on him. But there are potential interesting uses for learning and professional development.
Imagine if students recorded quotes, images, or insights from classroom lectures in Thoughtback. Using the app in this way creates a nice opportunity for students to recall key reflections from past courses and to measure how much they’ve learned or changed since the time of that first thought.
It can be used much the same way for professional development – to capture reflections, insights, and new ideas. It would enable all the creativity and energy from conferences to inspire at later points throughout the year, for example. And it’s a good tool to measure how you change (or not) in relationship to emerging trends in learning and technology. Imagine if we all had a timeline of our thoughts on MOOCs, for example. It would be interesting to see if getting your thought back would be haunting, or not.
A collaborative, startup mentality is being adopted by workers and organizations that allows for new ways to learn. Multidisciplinary teams made up of people with diverse experiences are allowing participants to teach each other and learn at the same time.
In the US, an undergraduate education used to be an option, one way to get into the middle class. Now it’s a hostage situation, required to avoid falling out of it. And if some of the hostages having trouble coming up with the ransom conclude that our current system is a completely terrible idea, then learning will come unbundled from the pursuit of a degree just as as songs came unbundled from CDs.