School or Classroom 2.0 – and what makes a good learner?

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Following on from my last post on School2.0 etc, I read with interest Stephen Downes post titled To The School or Classroom 2.0 Advocates in which he responds to some questions from Christian Long.

I rather like Stephen’s responses to Christian’s list of questions. They resonate with my understandings of the whole school/class2.0 discussion. This is emphasised in one point he makes;

I have commented in the past, and I reiterate the point here, that from my perspective the predominate use of the term ‘School 2.0’ has been to promote a view of learning that is traditionalist, rather than oriented to the future, one that seeks to preserve the existing trappings of education, most notably, schools. We hear a lot of language like “the fact is, schools are here to stay,” but there is in my mind no fact of the matter, certainly not in the time-frame of 25-30 years.

I am in total agreement with this sentiment. While I may not necessarily come to the same conclusions as Stephen about what those future educational environments might look like, the point that I’m agreeing with is that so much of the discussion about the future of schools begins from exactly that perspective – that we’ll continue to have schools, and before long, all the other trappings of our existing school system begin appearing as insurmountable barriers to changes in our thinking.

The other thing that I find often find inhibits our thinking about the future of schools and schooling is the extent to which the discussion dwells on the physical structures we call schools, and the systems and processes that we use to operate them, instead of a focusing on the nature of teaching and learning as being the things that need to change most markedly as we look to the future. When you look at things from that perspective then things like buildings, timetables etc can be viewed from the perspective of how well they enable or inhibit effective teaching and learning practices.

With this in mind I was interested to read Phil Brown’s Student Self-Directed Learning blog entry titled What makes a good learner? in which he poses the question then summarises a number of factors suggested in a paper from NREL. It’s my contention that if we begin by looking at the list suggested by Phil, and considering what sorts of environments and support would be required to enable this sort of learning to take place, then our perspective on what the future of schools and schooling might be might be very different.

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