Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Taking the School Out of Learning


I've written and thought a lot about "School" and "Learning" over the years. A recent article from the UK's Times Online serves as just one more example of the clash between assembly line schooling and digital learning. Here we have the typical "Hacker" versus "The Establishment" confrontation (jamming phone signals to prevent cheating on national exams).

I suggest we're in a transition between schools modeled on factories and the personal learning available through the Web and social networking / Web 2.0 applications. With the Web came easy plagiarism, then came With "Web 2.0" came Wikipedia, RSS feeds & podcasts. How does education respond? Monitor student mouse-clicks or do something radical like change homework assignments? A bit too snide, sorry about that.

But the point is clear: when do we stop putting energy into the "Clamp-down" and invest it in the "Ramp-Up?" You might guess I have a lot of opinions about this, but here's a quick quotation for an article currently in press. It suggests considering the "open source community" as a model for schools in place of the top-down, factory model:
Although the contrasts are many, the most significant demands stating at the outset: an open source community is built on the premise that people want to create and contribute and that they can be trusted. With this foundation of trust, good things emerge. Shouldn’t education expect the best from people, as a matter of efficiency, if not out of principle?
I'd love to see what people think. As digital technologies undermine the "one-size-fits-all" approach, what aspects of "schooling" can we leave behind as rust-belt remnants, artifacts related to the logistics of a mass production model, not pedagogy, cognition or human development? And what elements do we need to add to make personal learning scale?

Please add your comments to this post.

Cheers, Tom