Future Learning in a Digital Age

I encourage you to read this report from the MacArthur foundation, published by MIT Press The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (.pdf).

The project began as a draft document posted on a collaborative Web site developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book (http://www.futureofthebook.org) in January of 2007. The draft remained on the Institute’s site for over a year (and still remains there) inviting comments by anyone registered to the site. This recent Report is a redaction of the argument in what is a  book-in-progress, currently titled The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which is to be published in 2010, after the culmination of extensive research and collaboration face to face and virtually.

Quotes that attracted my attention which have immediate relevance to our planning in schools – both formal and informal:

Since the current generation of  student has no memory of the historical moment before the advent of the Internet, we are suggesting that participatory learning as a practice is no longer exotic or new but a commonplace way of socializing and learning.

This puts education and educators in the position of bringing up the rearguard, of holding desperately to the fragments of an educational system which, in its form, content, and assessments, is deeply rooted in an antiquated mode of learning.

Most fundamental to such a change is the understanding that participatory learning is about a process and not always a final product.

According to the report, there are ten principles which are foundational to rethinking the future of learning institutions.

  1. Self-learning
  2. Horizontal structures
  3. From presumed authority to collective credibility
  4. A de-centred pedagogy
  5. Networked learning
  6. Open source education
  7. Learning as connectivity and interactivity
  8. Lifelong learning
  9. Learning institutions as mobilizing networks
  10. Flexible scalability and simulation

Some wonderful reading and professional discussion could ensue if you can get your school’s leadership team to consider these ten Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy.

I am particularly interested in the focus on virtual learning. For example, Quest to Learn: New York, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009. Quest to Learn, a school using game-inspired methods to teach traditional and multimedia literacies, is a joint venture between the Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design in collaboration with the nonprofit organization New Visions for Public Schools (See http://www.q2l.org/).

I know that while it is difficult for schools and education authorities to fast-track their thinking and to be strategic in changing cultures and educational practices, this report, and the book that will follow should provide an opportunity to mandate future developments.

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