The Future of Learning Needs to Be NOW!

25 Oct

“This is the first generation of people that work, play’ think and learn differently than their parents, …They are the first generation to not be afraid of technology. It’s like the air to them.” ~Don Tapscott

Gerald Logan @glogan, sent this out today to the ETCATA (Educational Technology Council of the Alberta Teacher’s Association) committee and I could not wait to watch when I got to my office. This 20 minute video is entitled The Future of Learning and is part of Ericsson’s Networked Society series. In it we have an opportunity to listen to big thinkers like Seth, Sugata and Stephen as well as creators like Jose and Lois and finally, educators like Margaret and Daphne. They each bring out their perspectives on the history of education, its current state and what education can and should be, given our advances in technology and learning.


The origins of education, according to Sugata, really come from the military that needed soldiers who thought and worked in a similar fashion. As well, as the Industrial Revolution rose up, factories required people to behave and think cohesively. Students are then processed in batches which makes it useful for companies to have a constant workforce. This no longer works in the 21st century as it forces students to adapt to the current educational system rather than the other way around (killing creativity, imagination, exploration, etc.)

Currently and the Recent Past

The teacher was the keeper of all knowledge, yet when the technological revolution came about, information became more readily available in the hands of students who had online access. This is a shift in the knowledge base. Students, anywhere in the world, with an internet connection, can access information, connect with others, expand their learning, and see the world in a different manner.

We can also look at an educational system that is flawed when it relies on standardized testing to corral learners into a specific pathway of learning. These tests don’t help prepare students to go out and be successful citizens; one needs to help students cope with the uncertainty when the go out into society. Seth comments that schools should be dropping these tests since there is nowhere else in the workplace that they are even utilized so they are non-relevant to the learning process.

Knowing something is an obsolete idea. Educations job now is to point students to the right kind of question not just to give out the correct answers. Learners who find the answers do much better than those that receive the answers directly. ~Sugata

Education Can and Should Be…

Seth and Stephen both say that there needs to be an educational revolution. Education needs to less about conveying content and a lot more of teaching and engaging in dialogue to develop thinking skills, problem solving skills and a passion for learning. Our students need to WANT to come to school. An engaged and interesting learning environment needs to make students restless and solve authentic problems. The face to face and virtual learning with teachers who’ll believe in their students and challenge them forward is an important framework to give some serious consideration.

In our own school division, we are seeing a revolution of sorts with:

  • Report Cards – our new K-9 report cards and Quick Facts show that report cards are one means of reporting achievement. Other ways include: comments, work collection, phone calls, emails, meetings, agenda notes, student learning log or blog, Meet the Teacher night, Student-led conferences, IPPs (Individual Program Plans), and portfolios. The purpose of a report card is to provide an accurate interpretation of a student’s achievement on graded curriculum and to assist parents with an understanding of areas of strength, areas for growth and strategies for improvement.
  • ePortfoliosForest Green School started this all by having students outwardly sharing their reflections of their learning, High Park School intro, PSD70 Digital Portfolio Project via @gcouros
  • High School Flexibility Enhancement Pilot at Spruce Grove Composite High School – Alberta Ed overview
  • Embedding Assessment AS Learning into Critical Thinking in an Inclusive Environment – or the short version: Knowing Yourself as a Critical Thinker – a three year project intended to improve student engagement and learning through improving teacher practice.
  • New PSD #70 Vision: Parkland is a place where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

It was also great to learn about Knewton and Coursera which are two learning platforms available for students. Knewton is a data mining and adaptive learning platform which allows anyone to upload content and produce a course that is uniquely personalized to each student. Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company utilized by universities and colleges. In September 2012, it had 1.5 million students from 196 countries registered in 195 courses from 33 universities ranging from 130,000 – 10,000 students per course! These two examples show that the educational system must change to offer learning in a variety of ways and must continue to grow and enhance learner potential.

In my opinion, this video should be shown in every board room, staff meeting and committee session. Dialogue and action to transform our current educational system must continue to occur so we can evolve and create a more meaningful learning opportunity for ourselves and our students.



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