Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The next evolution of learning will occur outside of schools, Changing Education Paradigms,

Is it the institution of education that constrains learning? Schools are primarily places of socialization and the indoctrination of people to fit within the dominant economic ideology of the nation or state in which they are situated. School is not primarily a emancipatory place of learning, learning happens in school despite the school itself. The long held legitimacy of schools and schooling is now challenged by the multiple sources of information now available via information communication technologies. More recently the participatory nature of the Internet has created vast opportunities for anyone to create, modify and explore knowledge. Yes a lot of content on the Internet is mindless filler. However, this is no different from television or popular print and visual media. Therefore, the idea that the internet only provides second class information quality should be tempered with the growing realization of the codification of the body of human knowledge into digitally transmittable formats

The next evolution of learning will occur outside of schools. This change has already started the precursors being the uploading of educational content by leading American universities. Educators  themselves are creating networks of like minded teachers via social networking platforms. The use of YouTube and other online video services are becoming ubiquitous. The use of online presentation sites like slide share to upload existing PowerPoint presentations and develop and disseminate new presentations. Despite these trends schools still block and restrict access to many Internet sites, especially social networks and video feeds. This attitude of blocking the perceived risky online services is based on a miss-understanding of the relative merits of the technology. Blocking this technology to protect students is often counter productive because many of them have access to social networking site from home or via a Internet enabled mobile phone.

The reason that the new state of education will occur outside of secondary educational institutions are because of the very institutional nature of schools themselves. In Australia the essentially two tracked education system private/public is equally unready or unwilling to embrace the changes that ICTs ultimately bring to learning. Public schools will strain under the lack of flexibility and work force that is heavily unionized and sometimes combative in nature, large changes can only occur via a large show of good will by all parties and this is often something that is in short supply. Private education is more flexible but is still bound by the expectations of the parents, whom provide private capital, and the culture of the school which may be etched into the collective psyche of the staff and be bound to a reproduction of class based structures and captive to narratives of perceived success.

The great hope for education lies in the increased professionalization of it's workers. Teaching at one time was a career that was mainly dominated by women, and therefore often underpaid and not held in high regard as other professions due to unenlightened patriarchal social structures. However, the sisterhood lead the charge and pushed for change to such an extent that now the career driven look back over their shoulders and see the ghost of motherhood haunting their success. Teaching is now better paid and held in higher -although more recently this is an arguable point-  regard but just as these victories enabled the battle weary to pause for breath the ICT revolution arrived. However; the leaders in education do realize the profound impact of the information technology revolution. While some leaders may not understand or have a deep technical grasp of the direct impact of ICTs, good leaders have given the space necessary for educational ICT innovators to ply their trade and experiment. 


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