Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

Is Heutagogy the Future of Education?

In Wired for Culture Mark Pagel points out that

 “Modern humans seem, uniquely among animals, capable of something that psychologists and anthropologists call cultural or social learning”.

Homo Sapiens rise to civilisation was based on this capability for learning but, on the many occasions that we have tried to design an education system for our species, we have invariably failed to improve on our original ability to learn socially. In Plato’s Academy 2500 years ago Socrates was already warning that the new-fangled invention of writing with symbolic language would result in something poorer than existing oral culture. We were about to become mediated by tools less flexible than our face-to-face conversational framework.

Socrates was talking during the first axial age when the settlement-based civilisations of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth switched to an underpinning metaphor of life that was based on a materialist creator God, because we were building cultures out of the crude raw materials we extracted from nature.

Universities, whether Arabic or Western, were originally built around sharing the ideas captured in the books that Socrates had warned about writing in the first place. Universities were originally built on the principle of disseminating this new monotheism (the only basis on which a Royal Charter would be granted in the UK) and when Paris and Bologna spotted that self-organised “communities of scholars” were visiting their cities with money to spend they incorporated universities in order to benefit from the cash spend of scholars; nothing new there then. Universities were built in order to take money off scholars whilst drilling them to think in a singular fashion based on a “learning by rote” copying down of rare and selected texts.

Fortunately the medieval university evolved the Liberal Arts model of Education which, at Bachelors level, involved the development of multiple skills of expression (music, rhetoric, grammar, etc) and only at Masters level was subject mastery (hence the name) the basis of education. This was eventually replace by the integrated Prussian model of a “nation-building” education during the nineteenth-century when the nation-state became fashionable as did national languages, a national curriculum and standardisation of all things.

The 7 Liberal Arts; Grammar Rhetoric Logic (Dialectic) Music Geometry Mathematics Astronomy

When, in 1970 as a school leaver, I came to choose between going to an English University, where the purpose of studying was driven by the Oxbridge model of training colonial administrators who could run the British Empire, or going to a Polytechnic to gain the skills necessary to maintain the factories of the Industrial Revolution, I was completely bemused. The British Empire had effectively collapsed in 1956 (Suez crisis) whilst British industry had been in terminal decline after Bretton Woods (1946) which ensured the loss of the closed markets that the Empire had previously guaranteed. I chose instead to enter the cultural industries (popular music) that the creative working class had spontaneously created during the 1960s using the tools made available by the Analogue Revolution. With the exception of some Art Colleges, usually seen as places for school children who had failed in the examinations of the formal education system, as John Lennon, Keith Richard Pete Townsend had (and in differing ways Mary Quant and Pauline Boty), there was no education available for the fastest-growing sector of the British Economy. Why? (more…)

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Digital Inclusion; Concepts & Issues January 2012

Introduction; In January 2012 I am taking part in two events relating to Digital Inclusion. A TEL Conference at Sheffield Hallam University run by Professor Jane Seale, building on her recent research review, and a Curated Conversation where we try and tease out possible policy outcomes.  Consequently I am writing two blog posts on digital inclusion, firstly looking at concepts and ideas, secondly looking at practicalities and ways forward.

Background; Much of the writing on this blog, and the ideas that they try to express, derive from work concerning Digital Inclusion that I have carried out in various ways during the past ten years. As I mentioned in an earlier post I taught a Unit called Information, Technology & Society in the 80s/90s in which I developed an approach to technology and social change between 1770 & 2020 called NSU; networks, services and users. For the past twenty years I have been thinking about what the lineaments of a networked digital society might look like. In 1989 I recorded my thoughts on how 2021 might be outlined using NSU thinking, and I haven’t really changed my mind since. As a consequence (more…)

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From Education to Learning; A Brief History of Open (2)

Last Week I asked; what have we learnt from Web-enabled Education? Has the Web begun to enable more learning-centred approaches? Have we used the affordances of new technology to improve our learning, lives and society? This was in answer to @aleksk on Untangling the Web observation who said she would focus on ‘pedagogical theories, online education enablers, novel learning techniques and approaches that the web affords’. In fact her brief article in todays Observer disappointingly focusses on university research issues, a customary mistake by academics and policy-makers. Shockingly she quotes the complacent Hamish MacLeod (who he?) at Edinburgh “I wouldn’t say there are any profound changes in the way we should be thinking about theories of learning”. I beg to differ! So let’s look a little more inclusively at what the web has afforded us for learning.

What have we learnt from Web-enabled Education; in terms of pedagogical theories, online education enablers, novel learning techniques and approaches as Aleks Krotoski asked? Well last week as I argued that in untangling the web on education’ we are only taking a fifteen-year snapshot of a 50-year process of social change. Picking out the educational consequences of the web is a small and partial view of a broader ongoing set of social processes. Primarily we can say that the web has resulted more in changes to the processes of learning than in changes to the nature of the institutions of education; the consequences of the web on those institutions are yet to be fully realised.

However in terms of pedagogy there can’t have been a richer 15-year period since (more…)

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(1) From Education to Learning; A Brief History of Open

If we try to untangle the impact of the web on education we can describe it as enabling a shift from a focus on education as a system to learning as a process, particularly since the web itself has become more open, social and participatory, especially since Web 2.0.  So how did we get here?

Background; I myself (@fredgarnett) started looking at the impact of the Web, indirectly, in 1984 when I began teaching a Unit called Information, Technology and Society. Deciding that taking the tropes of the Industrial Revolution and applying them to the Information Revolution was way too limited I looked instead at how the social organisation of settlements emerged out of agriculture and that from hunter-gathering; maps, flints and fires. Inspired by Yoneji Masuda and Nikolai Kondratieff, and my own observations, by 1988 I had evolved the NSU model, so-called because I think social change comes from new Networks being built, new Services being provided and new User behaviours emerging, over 50-year long-wave Kondratieff economic cycles stimulated by new technologies; the micro-chip was invented in 1971. New economies emerge from new networks of distribution. In 1989 I wrote a story to capture the changes we might see by 2021 as a Masters paper called Homi & the NeXT One (the title a tribute to Steve Jobs). Consequently I have had some understanding of the process by which new technology changes society ever since. For me the key aspect discernible over the last 250 years (especially when preceded by a knowledge revolution like the scientific revolution) are the cumulative effects of unnoticed second-order, or unanticipated, effects; hence the poverty of most predictions about the future which focus on first-order (anticipated effects) based on the knowledge of experts whose expertise is historically based.

Watching the Web Flow 1990s; Being more Utopian than dystopian I looked forward to the, then, forthcoming information revolution democratising our representative democracy, with its UK roots in the 17th Century (1689), by enabling new participatory *constitutions* to be written, redefining the social relations by which we live. Whether they be communications, networked or mash-ups, technologies don’t change society, they create first-order effects, that is consequences of what the technologies were designed to do. Social change comes from users inventing new use-states in line with their beliefs and social behaviours. (more…)

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#purposedpsi Sheffield April 30th

This is a post expanding on my talk at the Purpos/ed Event for a wonderful bunch of  educational ‘Instigators’ at Sheffield. The slides are on slideshare and I will expand on those points and include some of the discussions from the day here. Doug Belshaw had asked me to keep it simple and to look at Keri Facer’s new book on Learning Futures. Keri looks at a number of issues relating to how schools might be organised in 2035 but the point that appealed to me most was the one of ‘slow citizenship‘ as it tied in with my Purpos/ed post discussing the Scottish notion of the Democratic Intellect and our  complete (English) inability to make the link between the life we want and the responsibilities of citizenship.

Keri’s vision of slow citizenship, or taking time to build the future you want, requires ‘sustained commitment to the lived communities, local neighbourhoods & social relationships through which we live(more…)

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#CAL11 & #11rsj

There is a debate going on in the conference on what CAL Researchers can do to enable social justice. Here are 11 ideas for a start, there are many more;

1. Set up a Public Interest Research Group and undertake research that benefits your community eg CoPIRG; Train your researchers to be socially responsible

2. Volunteer. Work in a community centre and enable socially inclusive learning to happen; learn from the socially excluded  (more…)

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So far in reflecting on the Purpose of Education, meeting the challenge that Mike Wesch set us, we have had some stimulatingly personal views from Lou, Stephen and Cristina.  But Ewan gave us a Scottish perspective taking in the policy horizon, highlighting the collaborative nature of their Curriculum for Excellence.

Pat Kane elaborated on this collaborative quality in Scottish education at the Really Free School on Friday and situated it in a deeper tradition he called the Democratic Intellect. He challenged the audience, most of whom were sharp, newly radicalised students, to describe how they saw the relationship between Citizenship and Education. Unsurprisingly, to me, no one gave him an answer; why?  (more…)

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XBectaX not #BectaX

Heather Brooke in the Secret State, published in April, flatly states that there is no way that we will invent a “British Google” as the UK Government is far too obsessed with secrecy to allow it to happen. I was part of the team who developed a prototype “Facebook for Learning” for the DfES in 2003, who then paid management consultants £4m to describe it as a “Google for Learning,” which I always assumed was simply out of ignorance about social media. Well it was 2003, and all the expensive management consultants could come up with as a metaphor was Google. So maybe perhaps, yes, that did set off the alarm bells in the Cabinet Office and they closed it down to restrict civil rights, as Heather Brooke suggests. Ignorant Cock-up or knowing Conspiracy? Who knows? (more…)

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& The Pull of Learning

I started these posts by looking at the outcomes of #BectaX and identified three possible policy outcomes that would reflect the debates and proposals that group of motivators and builders came up with; Infrastructure, Collaboration & Participation. I suggested wrapping them up in a Web 2.0 programme of CPD for all educational professionals. In election week, with a plethora of suggestions for education policies post-election, I am going to look at how Obliquity might help and why learning is a Pull that fits well in an emerging world of social media.


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Managerialism v Professionalism

I was going to entitled this post after Malcolm McLarens’ keynote at Games-Based Learning in 2009 “Never-Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Txt Pistols” as his talk captures the tension between Innovation and Control that occurs when any new technology enters education. McLaren, like McLuhan, was arguing for the conversational crafting of new creative potentials, something social media makes readily available. The delicious crowd-sourced ideas of #BectaX were arguing for a socialised, participative, learning exchange, roughly speaking, “every learner their own TxT Pistol”. New media, new technologies in fact, create new affordances for disruptive innovation, as they offer new tools and processes for problem-solving. Social media offer the opportunity for the “creativity, innovation and collaboration” of Group Genius to became processes welcomed within educational institutions. We play, we learn, we imagine new futures; the point of course is how do we realise them? (more…)

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