Nov 19, 2007

OpenLearn 2007 - From Boot Camp to Holiday Camp? (day 2)

Patrick McAndrew had a nice presentation called: From Boot Camp to Holiday Camp? Some issues around openness, Web 2.0, and learning.

"Open Educational Resources were initially seen as a way to exchange and exploit content. For example, the MIT OCW material can be adapted as acurriculum plan and set of resources for use in another institution.

What has also emerged is that there is also direct use of the material by learners. OpenLearn has a configuration that more clearly reflects this by offering a ‘LearningSpace’ designed to allow users to pick units to work with and use them within their personalised learning environments and alongside other learners. However, these learners will not be part of any registered course, won’t be focused on compulsory assignments and will not get a qualification at the end of their work.

The ‘Boot Camp’ elements of education, where learners are organised and coerced into performing necessary learning practices, has therefore disappeared. So a question is whether these elements should be replaced with features that are more in line with a ‘Holiday Camp’, where learning is loosely structured and ‘fun’, but is still relevant and valuable. This talk will explore these metaphors as lenses that can help us to design for learning practices that share their landscape with huge-scale media-rich interaction and radical publishing in the context of open technologies and Web 2.0."

Patrick explained motivation using the metaphors of carrots and sticks. Carrots are teasers for students to perform better, such as grades and diplomas.. sticks are a metaphor for punishments to threaten students used for increasing their performance. These are the principle motivators for learning in schools today. With freely available learning materials, openness enables another learning driven by motivation and enjoyment. There is a transition going on from straightforward to open learning: abundant choice and driven by motivation and enjoyment.

We are all part of the web, which allows democratic and collaborative media creation, sharing and consumption. But how do we come from interest to learning? Patrick mentions Confucius, who said:
I hear and I forget,
I see and I remember
I do and I understand
a long time ago. The web allows to actually do (see keynote JSB). But in order to embrace it, we need to reconceptualize learning.

Formal education has the following motivation factors:
  • Assignment deadlines
  • Examinations
  • Tutors who call
  • Qualifications
  • Progression
  • Peer approval
Learning at OpenLearn is motivated by
  • Professional development
  • Interest
  • Hobby
  • Job progress
  • Job change
We need to focus on supporting learning for fun, and Patrick mentions the rise of learning clubs. Tools are important for this, and the term ambient learning design is brought up, with examples of learning tools, such as digital dialogue games as the InterLoc tool. This brings in the issue of scaffolding, something that John Seely Brown should be approached with care, because kids nowadays want to create everything themselves. We need to find out from an anthropological angle to find out what is going on between the students in these dialogue tools as he raises the issue of World of Warcraft where he thinks a scaffolding tool would be laughed at. He says that we should be careful with building mental models or projectories.

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