The Learner as Network

A post on Will Richardson's webblogg-ed brings home the critical issues central to the whole debate about 'futures' in education. The learner has always been considered central to the education enterprise, and in a constructivist sense the learner is the creator, shaper, and manager of learning experiences. Translate that into the world of ICT, and you get education being 'delivered' with different IT tools, exploring new and/or different ways to allow students to engage with ideas for the creation of new personal knowledge.

Sound good? Many schools think so, and in some cases are appointing people into a position that might be a Director of e-learning (or similar). e-learning what? how?

What then about the socially networked world of our students? Aren't they busy e-learning without any help from their teachers?

Will comments on how far we need to go:

" We are still about control, not sharing. We are still about distribution, not aggregation. We are still about closed content rather than open. We are static, not fluid. The idea that each of our students can play a relevant, meaningful, important role in the context of these networks is still so foreign to the people who run schools. And yet, more and more, they are creating their own networks, sharing, aggregating, evolving to the disdain of the traditional model of schooling that is becoming more and more irrelevant.

Read the full post here. My concern is that educators need to understand (if not adopt) the ways of networking that permiate the lives of students. Also,what we need in our schools or educational institutions is someone who can 'direct innovation'. This is vital to ensure that a true blend of tools, techniques, processes, and thinking strategies can happen. Who can bring a broad curriculum understanding to integration of ICT and social networks, as well as promote and develop literacy for reading and relaxation as well as communication (essential for metacognition and learning), plus embed knowledge techniques for information search, analysis and sythesis? If the position criteria are any guide – what we now need is a Director of Innovation. This is not an IT leader, or teaching & learning leader, or curriculum leader, or information services leader. This is new, and this is important!

We can no longer afford a silo mentality. We need a genuine innovator to remix a new learning framework for our students – within a school that is remixed in shape and style to accommodate "the learner as network".

2 thoughts on “The Learner as Network

  1. Hi Judy,
    I read your post with interest. I have posted one on my learning that relates to leadership.

    Ref: “Also,what we need in our schools or educational institutions is someone who can ‘direct innovation’. This is vital to ensure that a true blend of tools, techniques, processes, and thinking strategies can happen……
    If the position criteria are any guide – what we now need is a Director of Innovation. This is not an IT leader, or teaching & learning leader, or curriculum leader, or information services leader. This is new, and this is important!”

    If one is to employ just a Director of Innovator, I have concern that the followers (teachers) will just follow the Director (the leader) in a traditional manner, without an awareness of the responsibility of the work (and associated success or failure) that lies with each teacher. So, if the innovation fails, we just sack the Director and replace him/her with another one, without understanding the reasons behind such failure. See my post on http://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com

    If teachers are all inspired and empowered to embrace innovation (they all act as Directors of innovation), then they will become the leaders of innovation, and at the end they will say: “We did it”, when they are successful in the implementation of innovative approaches (Web2.0, on-line learning, use of blogs, wikis etc.). And they could also learn from any mistakes if there are any failures, as they are taking responsibilities themselves.

    As a teacher myself, it works for me.

    Do you think that would work in your organisation?
    Renewed thanks for your post.
    John Mak

  2. The mobility and interactivity of the technology is accepted, the question remains that in harnessing these that we need a curriculum structure that is flexible but one that is still able to assess student learning achievement against particular standards. Curriculum design within the framework of the existing syllabuses could for instance focus on literacy, numeracy and information skills using KLAs to create a context for this learning. The world’s our oyster.

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