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Posts Tagged ‘Learner-Generated Contexts’

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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The Chocolate Cafe Manifesto

For Learning after Lockdown; This blog is about my ideas and work connected to Heutagogy, what Stewart Hase defines as “self-determined learning” and which I am interested in as a way of enabling learner-centred learning in the UK (and elsewhere). We think that, following the pandemic, as a “new normal” is introduced in the UK schools will not be capable of 100% attendance and will have to design for 50/50 learning. Arguably this might force schools to recognise that they will have to “trust the learner” for a change and allow some learning agency into UK schools. Schools will become “time poor” so they will have to become “learning-rich” This blog post looks at some ways in which that might be achieved.

Introduction (Secondary Education UK); For reasons to do with the Brainsrusting group who are discussing this issue and writing the “manifesto” we are focussing on Secondary Education in the UK, although the principles and thoughts we share might be useful anywhere. We met monthly at The Chocolate Cafe in Canterbury (famous for its Cathedral School 1000 years ago) and have debated how we might share our discussion and ideas as a “Manifesto for Learning” so here it is/will be.

50/50 Learning; We think that social distancing will require schools to offer only 50% of time in the classroom compared to the previous 100%. We are also assuming that UK (English) schools for the next academic year 20/21 will continue to follow the rigid OFSTED driven high-stakes achievement oriented education model that was introduced in the UK to “make sure the sixties never happens again” (PM Margaret Thatcher). From that perspective the 50% in classroom time will arguably remain the same but the 50% “beyond the classroom” learning time might allow some learning agency for schoolchildren. It is in this new “heutagogic learning time” that some freedom of learning might emerge. Our hierarchical schools made now be time poor but they can become “learning rich” instead.

Fast Education/Slow Learning; We need to design an education system that isn’t just concerned with the unchallenging “memorization” of “facts” the so-called “learning by rote” that is the hallmark of our exam-driven secondary system; what I call “Fast Education”. We also need to allow for the thoughtful, reflective “Eureka” process of “slow learning” where we make sense of the world for ourselves, to be part of our education system. Daniel Kahneman talked of “Thinking Fast and Slow” and showed how “slow thinking” is how we make sense and create our own meaning, whereas as “fast thinking” is about developing high speed answers to known questions. Our secondary education is almost entirely concerned with “fast thinking” and so points students at clearly defined subject areas where the teacher knows the answer. This is an education system that is good for providing clear answers for exams, but no-good for solving-problems and enabling sense-making when events diverge from the norm; as in pandemics. Here are our 4 big ideas; (more…)

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Teaching & learner-centred learning

In A History of Teaching in 10 Lectures I discussed the quality of accidentally discovering truths about teaching by bumping into the expectations of learners.
This process of bumping into the expectations of learners ended up, for me, in developing a technique I called educational brokering. Captured well in this interview with David Jennings on creating “learner-generated contexts.

Other teachers developed other techniques, and I referred to Bernie Dodge of San Diego who invented WebQuests, or rather co-created WebQuests, with an SDSU class. Back in 1994 and lacking material (or perhaps being unprepared) Bernie decided to run a class as a debate discussing the question “is browsing learning?” He had noticed that people using the, then newly invented, web spent a lot of time “just browsing, thanks.” He thought his class would be split 50/50 and his unprepared 50 minutes would pass easily by in the gentle to-and-fro of debate. Instead EVERYONE said “browsing IS learning, thanks” and so they spent the next 48 minutes inventing WebQuests in order to capture browsing as learning. Or described as Heutagogy, 48 minutes were spent in the co-creation of a self-determined learning tool.

More explicit applied Heutagogy was displayed by the wonderful Thom Cochrane who took the PAH Continuum, which he discovered by just browsing, thanks, and (more…)

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The Beatles Creativity

In 2007 I was part of the Learner-generated Contexts team that presented the Open Context Model of Learning at the launch of the OU’s Open Learn initiative. Our view was that if OER’s we being offered in a post-Web 2.0 world we also needed a new pedagogy. We believed that various approaches that existed to learning had developed with the limitations that came from the sector or institution in which they originated. However Open Learning means more than just “open access” which it seems to be limited to in the University sector, but means learning that is open to all and emergent. So we, the joint authors (from every sector of education) proposed a new “pedagogy” that was open to context. 

The Open Context Model of Learning was the result, fusing pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy, and it is what this blog is about. The Learner-Generated Contexts presentation at OpenLearn was successful and loved by John Seely Brown. We were first asked to write that up for the Conference proceedings, which we did collaboratively as the Open Context Model of Learning  but that was rejected. We re-structured it as book chapter but I argued that we needed a more accessible form of publicising this work and wrote a novel 63/68 A Visceral History which I subsequently publicised by writing about The Beatles. At the request of Russell Francis I applied the Open Context Model of Learning to The Beatles recording career and found that they developed their recording craft in line with the PAH Continuum. All You Need is Heutagogy captures that and is, perhaps, an easy way into understanding Heutagogy;

I think the Beatles Career went through 6 phases;

1. Live 1957-1963 This was the period from the Woolton Fete in July 1957 when Paul McCartney was introduced to John Lennon after he played with The Quarrymen skiffle group, who played a Buddy Holly track that became their first recording –  That’ll Be The Day;

Until Love Me Do

During this time John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison they evolved into The Beatles who, with Pete Best on drums, became a great live rock n roll group. They were finding their identity together with help from their mates, hangers-on and admirers, and learning from the context they were in. Managed by Brian Epstein they got a recording contract and evolved, with the addition of Ringo Starr on drums, into a potential recording group.

2. Singles 1963-1964 Determined to make a hit record during their “pedagogic” phase they did as instructed by the music industry professionals they worked with, especially George Martin, in order to learn how to make hit records. They first achieved that with Please Please Me;  ;

They continued to develop as hit recording artists, the Pop Mop Tops, until Hard Days Night

Although by She Loves You they were stating what they, as a group, thought was a hit record as opposed to being directed towards a hit by George Martin, who was describing himself as their “school teacher” at this time. They disagreed on the ending & The Beatles prevailed over Martin; She loves You was the biggest selling single of the 60s.

(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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CAL11 Workshop 1pm  April 15th  #mosialong

This workshop was exploring how to design ambient learning environments using the Emergent Learning Model. Slides for this session were updated from the Ambient Learning City talk March 2011.

If this is too abstract then we can reference the works of Howard Rheingold, Dave Weinberger and Clay Shirkey and describe the Emergent Learning Model as; Smart Mobs + Everything is Miscellaneous means Here Comes Everybody

We are also thinking of how we might use Innovation as an ‘Open Platform’ (Steven Johnson) to allow ‘generative innovations‘ to further transform learning.  (more…)

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Louise Michel

It’s only during the past year that I discovered what a remarkable woman Louise Michel was having seen the French film Louise Michel La Rebelle (full film in French) and heard @paulmasonnews talk on the Paris Commune at the Really Free School. She was a key Communard in the Paris Commune of 1871 who was tried, convicted and sent to New Caledonia for 9 years before being part of a general pardon and returning to France in 1880. In New Caledonia she supported the political and educational struggles of the local people, and on her return to France she returned to her political activism, was imprisoned again in 1883 but remained an active educationalist. Like all true revolutionaries she saw that education was where activism had her home.

#contextisqueen We use the concept Context is Queen as a result of research we did when commissioned to identify a Digital Divide Content Strategy (by the DfES). We concluded that, rather than there being some explicitly defined content that was socially inclusive, so proving that Content is King, in fact socially inclusive learning was better served by tools and skills appropriate to context. In fact social inclusion requires a move from Access to Content to Context;  Fair Access is not enough. As a consequence Ronan O’Beirne ironically coined the phrase ‘Context is Queen.’ So on International Women’s Day here is a little more on Louise Michel and also on some of the women working today to make Context the Queen of Learning; which is why we created the hashtag #contextisqueen for Twitter.  (more…)

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purpos/ed

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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