It all starts from Libraries.

lifelonglearnign-fest

Last week we have had the amazing opportunity to host Seamus O’ Tuama in class through skype and discuss life long learning in Cork with him. Seamus is the director of the ACE program in Cork (Adult Continuing Education) one of the twelve cities worldwide to have been awarded by UNESCO for their extremely well organized initiatives toward life long learning. Cork’s example is the existing proof that communities can come together through learning to enhance their interrelations, cultivate new types of collaboration and contribute to the formation of a new societal status where everyone is invited contribute to the common good and actively participate regardless of age or gender. What was even more interesting was that in terms of space, this all started in libraries.

Today I was going through P2PU’s activities and bumped into these news. I found out that P2PU has launched the Learning Circles Project which is in fact very similar to Cork’s approach in principle. According to the article, people are welcome to join in 6-8 week learning activities in Chicago’s libraries learning together in person, online.

Back to Greece. Experience with public libraries has been scarce apart from this. In a small city in the Northern part of the country, Veria, there exists a library unlike any other in Greece. This library has been involved in numerous learning activities engaging the whole of the city’s population. It has never seized to transform itself and provide Veria with a series of open-to-all learning activities .

While waiting for the opening of the new grandiose National Library in Athens, I can’t help but wonder whether these small cells of community interaction could in fact provide us here in Greece with a spatial remedy for getting to know each other and working with the community in a learning framework. Cork’s experience shows that the power of bringing the people close together can be beneficial even to the economy and help create those disruptive alliances that can change things from within. Food for thought.

A MOOC on MOOCs

federica-mooc

An International Colloquium entitled: “The MOOC Identity” that took place in Napoli last summer, gave way to the creation of a MOOC now run by Federica EU*. Various personalities from all around the world -among which Stephen Downes, Rita Kop, Steven D. Krause and many more- express their views on the future perspectives of MOOCs. It has just started so, if anyone is interested there is still time to enroll. For more information press here

*Federica EU is the online platform of Federico II University of Napoli currently host to more that 300 online courses

42

42

The university’s name “42” is a reference  to a science fiction series called: “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. 42 answers to the question of the meaning of life. 

I was asked lately where my research is heading; whether there is an indication of some kind of what is to become of the subject learner. 42 pretty much sums it up for me. Students of 42 are required to work on their own and produce a software or a game of some kind, using whatever available resources they can come up with online. There is no teacher supervising the process, nor tuition, just the students sharing a classroom on the condition that they work together and peer review one another.

I sincerely think that there can be no discourse on the future of education and the learner without mentioning the endless possibilities of online resources in terms of layout, content, or communication. Unless a major catastrophe breaks out and destroys all traces of digital technology, the online pool of resources will increasingly grow stronger. And with it the subject learners who are making it up and they go with or -just as in the case of 42- without instructors.

42 is only one example in a series of attempts to enhance collaborative learning in the online learning environment. I couldn’t agree more with  in saying that all these models can provide alternatives to diverse types of learners. In fact, the latest developments in education promote exactly this; the possibility of the learners to choose from a wide variety the way they learn and the resources they will benefit from. However extremist all this may sound to the traditional academic voices, it is the various degrees of peer learning and student interactivity that will produce the future landscape of educational possibilities, the future that is now, -a Stan Allen quote that I always like to use-.

 

References

Image available here

#GoOpen

go-open

#GoOpen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, ASCD, and other nonprofits and companies that aims to create an open education ecosystem that makes learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

It is currently addressed to K-12 education with 14 districts committed to contributing to the creation of OERs. South, in his report on the establishment of GoOpen refers to the COW initiative as a point of reference to this endeavour; the initiative taken by three school districts (Ohio, Wisconsin and Vista Unified School District) to create a “standards-aligned, competency-based, inter-district, inter-state, interdisciplinary, collaborative, project-based social studies curriculum.”Their experience led to the belief that there is a high need for the creation of new open educational material in the form of OER as they were unable to retrieve anything ready that could constitute a content base for their course.

What South is wondering is the money and effort needed to implement this project. “The question is”, he says, “how quickly, how thoughtfully, how sustainably, and with how much rigor and support?” Michael Q. McShane, in his “Open Educational Resources” article in Education Next, asks the exact same question; for OERs, he claims, are free to use but not free to produce. What is more, McShane argues, the overwhelming number of emerging OERs might give untrained K-12 teachers a hard time choosing which one to pick, let alone modify this material to produce a new form.

Both McShane’s and South’s questions are completely natural in an ever-changing landscape where textbooks gradually lose their dominance to digital content and the traditional role of the teacher is at stake. But in my opinion, the OER movement is by definition seeking to engage the teachers and students more or -if you’d like- in a different way. It promotes them to active agents; it presupposes that the teacher will collect the material he/she wants to use and that he/she will spend more time designing his/her course. It presupposes that the student will benefit from this shift in the medium and resume a more active role in composing knowledge or connecting information.

So, despite OER production difficulties in funding and/or regulations, at the end of the day, all that remains is the grade of involvement of the teacher on one hand and the time he/she will spend planning a course and the student on the other and the time he/she will spend using these resources. And thus OERs are a key component to the real change in education. The teacher can choose from multiple sources how to address the content to the students. If the teachers accept OERs as a simple digitization of the traditional textbook, the innumerous benefits of open education will be lost.

 

References

  • #GoOpen official page available here
  • Joseph South, Office of Ed Tech, Why #GoOpen? Why now?, article available here
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) information on the project #GoOpen available here
  • Michael Q. McShane, Open Educational Resources”, Education Next, WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1, available here

Image available here

Didactic/Reflexive Pedagogies

cope-kalatzis-graph

Cope and Kalatzis use this pair of terms to describe alternative pedagogical systems, and by using their special characteristics they demonstrate how technology in itself cannon produce change in pedagogy, it is pedagogically neutral. In fact, technology features such as flipped classroom and e-textbooks often reproduce didactic pedagogy principles. So,

Didactic Pedagogy:

  • balance of control is with the instructor
  • focus on cognition
  • focus on the individual learner
  • the learners must demonstrate that they can replicate discipline knowledge

Reflexive Pedagogy

  • the learner has considerable scope and responsibility for epistemic action (knowledge is dialogical)
  • focus is on the artifacts and knowledge representations constructed by the learner and the process of their construction
  • focus is on the social sources of knowledge
  • wider range of epistemic processes

In  their forthcoming book “e-Learning ecologies” the two authors present the reader with seven new learning affordances (see image above). They explore the way new media can be used to serve the reflexive model of education. At the moment they run the e-Learning ecologies, MOOC in the Coursera platform.

 

References

Kalatzis, M., Cope, B., 2015, “Learning and New Media“, in The SAGE Handbook of Learning, edited by David Scott and Eleanore Hargreaves, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage, Pp. 373-387

Cope, B.,Kalatzis, M., 2015,”Assessment and Pedagogy in the Era of Machine-Mediated Learning” Pp. 350-374 in Education as Social Construction: Contributions to Theory,
Research, and Practice, edited by T. Dragonas, K. J. Gergen, S. McNamee, and E.
Tseliou. Chagrin Falls OH: Worldshare Books.

Image available here

New Coursera MOOC on E-Learning Ecologies

illinois-mooc

I have just started this today, and it seems very well made so far.Interesting presentation of James Paul Gee, I was particularly struck by his introducing phrase which I shamelessly plan to use from now on as an opening line for me too:

A lot of the problems that we have in the world were brought on by the way in which humans are so good at producing stupidity.

For more press here 

Image available here