In my last post, I quoted George Siemens as saying:
“The starting point of connectivism is the individual.”
This paper – developed by the LTS Future Learning and Teaching (FLaT) Reference Group discusses how Personalisation has emerged as a way of making the curriculum more personal-centred and humane but adds that this entails responsibilities as well as rights. The individual learner has a claim on the time and the assistance of both teacher and peers but has an obligation to make a positive contribution in return. Personalised learning is, therefore, part of the process of establishing the school as a mutually-supportive community of learners.
The authors remind us that learning is an intrinsically social process and that for most people, most of the time, developing understanding requires interaction with others.
This report states that we we are increasingly witnessing a change in the view
of what education is for, with a growing emphasis on the need to support young people not only to acquire knowledge and information, but to develop the resources and skills necessary to engage with social and technical change, and to continue learning throughout the rest of their lives. The authors go on to say that there are also changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation – from the idea of the isolated individual ‘genius’ to the concept of ‘communities of practice’, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.
They wanted to find out if it’s possible to draw on the activities emerging through social software to create learning communities which offer young people personalised, collaborative learning experiences such as those that are already emerging in the world outside the school gates. They state that children and young people are increasingly becoming authors of blogs, and that research is only now beginning to catch up with these activities. The authors state that there are growing concerns about the safety and privacy of young people. Adults worry that by displaying personal information, young people are putting themselves at risk from predators who may take advantage of the anonymity and unbounded nature of the internet to make contact with young people.
The authors go on to say that, while there may be some basis for these concerns, a rapid survey of blogs on Live Journal or MySpace suggest that most of the communication between bloggers appears to be between people who already know each other in the offline world.
Two researchers from Demos are of the opinion that young people are spending their time in a space which adults find difficult to supervise or understand and that there are some powerful myths that inform the way people think about youth culture. Their report sets out to challenge some of those myths in order to explore the real value behind the digital interactions that are part of everyday life. Over a six months period they undertook interviews, group discussions and informal conversations with children and young people around the UK. They asked interviewees to fill in diaries tracking their media consumption – what they used, what they used it for and how often they used it. These diaries were a starting point for a series of focus groups.
They spent time in primary and secondary schools and youth groups with over 60 children and young people aged between seven and 18, speaking to them about how new technologies fitted into their lives. They also polled 600 parents of children aged four to 16 across England to find out their views on learning and the role of digital technologies in their children’s lives.
The finding from their research was that the use of digital technology has been completely normalised by this generation, and it is now fully integrated into the daily lives of young people. The majority of them simply use new media as tools to make their lives easier, strengthening their existing friendship networks rather than widening them. Almost all are now also involved in creative production, from uploading and editing photos to building and maintaining websites.
In their Executive summary, the authors state that the current generation of decision-makers – from politicians to teachers – see the world from a very different perspective to the generation of young people who do not remember life without the instant answers of the internet or the immediate communication of mobile phones.
The researchers found that most schools block MySpace, YouTube and that Bebo. Mobiles, iPods and other pieces of equipment are similarly unwelcome in the classroom. They also found that teachers often do not feel confident using hardware or software – many know less than their students.
Their research suggests that the blanket approach of banning and filtering may not be the most effective safeguard. Not only was it vulnerable to advances in technology and digitally savvy children, but the children they interviewed were on the whole aware of potential dangers and adept at self-regulating.
The authors go on to say that, the more children are encouraged to expand their digital repertoire, the more adept they will become at using different tools for different purposes in their everyday lives. This type of learning – anything which is loosely organised and happens outside the confines of the school gates – is usually defined as informal learning, and that it is this type of learning which often provides children with the confidence to succeed in formal contexts.
The report goes on to say that it’s not about trying to formalise the informal; rather it is about using this newly emerging third space in ways that stimulate students and enable them to transfer their skills.
4th (and final ……………… maybe?) literature review post coming soon 🙂