I have many "Aha" moments in the shower crying out for documentation. I will also use this blog to document my new startup, "Going One to One", an online course for schools who need help doing three big shifts at once: purchasing computers for each student, promoting student-centered learning, and adopting Google Apps for Education.
- Bram Moreinis
Atomized Learning and LearnLaunch
I just came back from the amazing LearnLaunch conference at Harvard Business School in Boston. Though I have worked in K12, recent earned an M.Ed. in Instructional Design, and started my own business, this was the first setting where all three came together, and it was a heady blend, with world class speakers and content.
The theme of the conference was "Across Boundaries," emphasizing the learning technology intersections and tensions between what K12 schools and colleges want and can live with, and what startups and major players are offering and supporting.
One of the hottest topics (and biggest tension points) I found was the term "Personalized Learning". Most technologists (Bill Gates on down) appear to imagine personalization as what happens when software enables learners to choose content, process and interface in various ways. This tendency considers learners as individual consumers.
I saw Venn Diagrams like the one at right purporting to describe personalized learning, most with no emphasis on social learning. Certainly there are many situations where this is appropriate, like learning to use a piece of software.
However, most schools increasingly support learning as a group social process (else why go to a school and be part of a classroom to learn?). At LearnLaunch, educators found social learning values often suppressed by a techno-centric interpretation of "personalization" and needed to overtly re-inject social language into the discussion to remain relevant as group learning settings.
At one point, a educational foundation director approached me after I made a comment about this during a session. Listening to her, I had a hunch she was a fan of Ayn Rand. and she agreed she was a devout Libertarian. To me, the flaw in Libertarianism (obviously) is that choice depends on context, which invokes a whole host of dependencies on other people who may or may not have had much choice in their roles. Choice supported by a family inheritance earned by great-grandparent slaveowners is an extreme example of my objection.
I mention this because "the myth of free choice" is as much behind consumerism as a whole as it is behind Libertarianism. While "giving people more choice" is positioned as an unqualified good in the marketplace, to my mind this ideology is part of what is destroying our planet.
Young people (including college age) are better served to learn and grow together, whether in brick-and-mortar or online communities, because the values and potentials that emerge within evolving social contexts make choices more meaningful.
It is not enough that I make something, or even learn something, if nobody is there to appreciate or use it. Social learning is the foundation for personal learning, in my view - not an optional "add-on".