Participatory Learning and Rethinking the Direction of Learning Institutions
In The Future of Learning in a Digital Age, Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg discuss how modes of learning have changed dramatically, but the institutions of higher learning have not. This report focuses largely on the possibility of the new learning institution not being based on the contiguity of time and place—virtual institutions. The authors argue that access to an growth of information technology has affected the process and possibilities around post secondary learning.
The authors describe the fact that due to Web 2.0 and available social networks, learners "use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals, and ideas together."
Davidson and Goldberg ask the following question:
- Although most institutions in the north are revamping their classrooms technologically, how many are actually rethinking modes of organizations, structures of knowledge, relationships between stakeholders, and other campuses across the world?
They see the opportunity to harness and focus the participatory learning methods in which students are adept. The authors are advocating for change because of the belief that current formal education institutions are not taking enough advantage of modes of digital and participatory learning available to students. They suggest the following ten principles that they feel are essential to rethinking the future of learning institutions.
- Self-Learning has bloomed – discovering online possibilities is a skill onto itself, and this must be a consideration in the new structure.
- Horizontal Structures: traditionally has tended to be top down and hierarchal, work today is far more hierarchal: movement from learning “that” to learning “how” – from content to process
- IT has created a shift from presumed authority to collective credibility: developing methods, often communal, for distinguishing information. Resolving tensions in increasingly interdisciplinary environments. Digital environments create acute problems with trusting information sources
- De-centered Pedagogy: leaders need to adapt a more collective, inductive pedagogy.
- Networked learning: networked learning extends individualized learning in many ways: These include taking turns in speaking, posing questions, listening to and hearing others out.
- Open Source Education: Open source culture seeks to share openly and freely in the creation of culture, in its production processes, and in its product, its content. It looks to have its processes and products improved through the contributions of others by being made freely available to all. Networked learning is committed in the end to an open source and open content social regime. Individualized learning tends overwhelmingly to be hierarchical: one learns from the teacher or expert, on the basis overwhelmingly of copyright protected publications bearing the current status of knowledge. Networked learning is at least peer-to-peer and more robustly many-to-many.
- Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity: the benefit of networked learning is such that e members both support and sustain, elicit from and expand on each other’s learning inputs, contributions, and products
- Lifelong learning: we must necessarily learn anew, acquiring new knowledge to face up to the challenges of novel conditions as we bear with us the lessons of adaptability, of applying lessons to unprecedented situations and challenges.
- Learning institutions as mobilizing networks: alters how we think about learning institutions. Traditionally, institutions have been thought about in terms of rules, regulations, norms governing interactivity, production, and distribution within the institutional structure. we think of institutions, especially those promoting learning, as mobilizing networks. The networks enable a mobilizing that stresses flexibility, interactivity, and outcome.
- Flexible scalability and Simulation: facilitates various scales, from small to far reaching – small groups at a far distance can collaborate together, as well as larger, more anon but still productive interactions. Scale driven by the nature of the project and institutions must be open to this.