9.2 How do we learn?


    In an interview with the blog Leading & Learning, Salvina Muscat, an official at the Maltese Ministry of Education, had this to say: “In this busy, fast-changing world, educating children for the future is the real challenge. Children need self-confidence, to be adaptable, to utilize their natural creativity, to understand their strengths and weaknesses, to be increasingly self-aware emotionally and intellectually, and to be capable of building relationships quickly, effectively, and often virtually. Entrepreneurship will be a vital tool for their success and for our economy’s future stability…”

    And yes, it is impossible to imagine life without learning for life. If people want to remain employable, they will have to go on refresher courses or retrain during their working life. Finishing school is not the end of your learning process; it should be the beginning. The Web ultimately accommodates this development.

    I can learn a foreign language via the site Livemocha.com, free of charge, by connecting with native speakers from other countries who love to teach me their language, including languages such as Mandarin Chinese. I can get over 2,000 (predominantly math) tutorials via the Khan Academy. These are short, instructional videos that explain mathematical and physics principles. Or, I can go to Videolectures.nl, where I can choose from about 4,000 guest lectures by professors from all over the world. On YouTube, there are over 200,000 instructional how-to-videos that can teach you how to skate, make Excel spreadsheets, or cook complex meals.

    Our own Seats2meet.com network offers free Internet workshops, and with the Dutch recruiter Rise, we organize free LinkedIn application training for job seekers. In short, even costs will not stand in the way of us as life-long learners!

    "Colleges and universities are indecisive, slow-moving, and vulnerable to losing their best teachers to the Internet."
    – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor at Princeton University, Bloomberg Businessweek, 2013.

    Take MOOCs (massive open online courses) where hundreds of thousands people from all over the world are frequenting top-notch universities, both online and in real time.
    Universities are moving in “big.” On http://www.mooc-list.com, you will find over 600 MOOCs. Started in 2012, Coursera, an initiative of some of the US’s top universities, is now offering close to 500 “free” courses from 85 institutions. Over 4 million students have already participated.

    The educational principles that make MOOCs different from “going to school” are:
    Aggregation. The whole point of a connectivist MOOC is to provide a starting point for a massive amount of content to be produced in different places online, and later aggregated as a newsletter or a Web page, accessible to participants on a regular basis. This is in contrast to traditional courses, where the content is prepared ahead of time.
    The second principle is remixing, that is, associating materials created within the course with each other, and with materials elsewhere.
    Re-purposing of aggregated and remixed materials to suit the goals of each participant.
    Feeding forward, sharing of re-purposed ideas and content with other participants and the rest of the world.

    We will also see new locations emerge besides the traditional school. Offices of the Organization 3.0, like Google and coworking spaces like S2M, will facilitate and stimulate this life-long learning by offering an environment where serendipitous meeting of other people creates an unexpected learning experience. At S2M, we use real-time dashboards to show what personal knowledge is available and up for grabs.

    The question remains of what we are still going to learn. With the use of Google Goggles, I can literally get my mobile phone to read a text, whereupon Google will find corresponding information. And via Word Lens, my phone will read text and translate it to another language in an instant. Google Translate and Bing are improving all the time, so the question exists if our children should even learn foreign languages.

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