Lessons Learnt – Future Practice
Open Networked Learners – Pioneers on the trail of new educational worlds
The digital transformation is turning the world of education upside down. In postmodern times, caught in the dilemma between the desire for self-realization and the search for belonging, the question arises of how we can, want and are allowed to learn in the future and, above all, in a way that is sustainable.
My central insight from the last weeks as part of the ONL (open networked learning) community: It is the entrepreneurial teachers who dare to embark on the adventure of understanding themselves as lifelong learners and wander as pioneers on the tracks of new educational worlds.
Brave new (learning) world – setting out on an adventure in infinite vastness
“The (learning) space, infinite widths.
It is the year 2020.
These are the adventures of one who
set of to learn about (new) learning.
She is on her way,
to explore new forms of learning.
Far away from what education once was,
she penetrates into new worlds of teaching,
that no wo:man has ever seen before.”
It doesn’t take much to turn the opening credits of the science fiction series “Stark Trek” into a description of the current situation in the learning and teaching world(s) that comes very close to reality. It is indeed infinite vastness that opens up here. Widths that seem to turn into black holes, fuelled in particular by current fashions and myths of digitalization. They ignite an incredible pull in the educational universe, which seems to question everything and everyone more and more.
It is questionable how much is known at all about what constitutes the “old learning world”, which is now changing, whether we want it or not. An aspect that seems to be moving further and further away from the interest of science, educational institutions and politics. Who wants to understand the box, when you are always only asked to think (yourself) out of it?
If one dares at least once to take a look not only at the future of learning, but also at the box – i.e. at the origins of the idea of learning – the first, possibly for some, surprising insight is that it is less about what is learned, but rather why and how.
Our level of education is higher than ever, and yet we seem to know less and less. Add to this the fact that some of what the “Star Trek” series still shows as science fiction is in fact science fact today and has a major impact on our everyday life and thus also on our lifelong learning. We (create) a flood of information that doubles about every two years. The number of “smart” technologies we use to share and network is growing exponentially, leaving us with the question of how much we ourselves are actually stupefying. The qualitative and quantitative diversity of networked devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) alone has almost quadrupled in recent years – in 2016, there were still around 6.3 million devices in the Internet of Things – and the statistical platform Statista forecasts an increase to 20.4 million in 2020.
This increase not only has consequences for the way learners communicate with each other and with teachers, but also means that didactic concepts will (have to) change. A change in “what” is learned, however, also has the effect that the “how” changes significantly. In a very short time, approaches sproud like mushrooms from the ground in recent years, bringing with them new needs for digital teaching-learning formats and high flexibility in terms of learning times and locations. We are moving further and further away from what once constituted learning – and thus we are also moving further and further away from what is/can be understood as education today. It is an adventure that both learners and teachers must embark on.
Ambiguous roles and routines of postmodern learners and educators
The examination of the “why” of our actions not only in private social structures, but also, if not even more so, in socio-economic educational contexts, may appear to some people in postmodern times to be if not a farce then at least a Sisyphean task. Depending on the perspective and personal context, today’s “multi-option society” offers us individual possibilities for shaping our own lives, or leaves us alone in disorientation when we say goodbye to “monogamous learning”. Rather, a plurality is increasingly manifesting itself in the deconstruction of educational profiles. Attributions in the context of learning and teaching that in the past still created meaning and belonging and thus provided support and orientation are losing importance, which inevitably leads to uncertainty and (self) doubts. That which now appears only as “true” in the educational context is more and more exposed to stagings of truth, which bring being and appearance closer and closer together and thus make roles and routines more difficult to distinguish.
In addition, the question with which goal and on which path the adventure of the infinite expanses of a future and sustainable educational universe will be embarked upon is no longer raised by educational institutions alone, but increasingly by (future) teachers and learners. For educational institutions, and thus also for teachers, it is becoming increasingly important to know the expectations of learners in order to stimulate and increase their affective and normative commitment.
The educational universe is on the move and is gaining momentum: It is opening up into new worlds! And that’s a good thing – if you want to change, you have to do one thing above all else: move. It may be coincidence or not, the spaceship that sets off for new worlds in the series “Star Trek” is called “Enterprise” and it is the call for more entrepreneurship that should free us from our current predicament in the educational universe. If teachers, as learners, deconstruct the ideas of (new) learning worlds by asking each other about the “why” of education, is it not to be assumed that on this journey they will not only question these very worlds, but that they will simply shape them themselves in the spirit of entrepreneurial thinking and acting? How much Pippi Longstocking is in teachers and students: Are they willing to make their educational world the way they like it?
This requires concrete, repeated questions about why someone is willing to continue learning as a teacher. In my opinion, it is important to sensitize, motivate and qualify teachers from an entrepreneurial point of view, to explore new paths in the jungle of new learning worlds like pioneers and to have them tested in an entrepreneurial way. The constant search of teachers who see themselves as lifelong learners for the “why” of education can become a strategic advantage for those educational institutions that allow exactly this.
#ONL2020 and especially the PBL06 thank you for welcoming me in your learning community and be for some time a pioneer myself!