Future Learning – Some Questions

George Siemens in his post The Future of Institution in a Digital Age   cited Future of Learning.  I found the paper a very interesting read.  There are a lot of educational ideals there.

“We advocate institutional change because we believe our current formal educational institutions are not taking enough advantage of the modes of digital and participatory learning available to students today”

Participatory learning, collaborative learning, interactive technologies all sound familiar.  They are happening right now, not the future.

How far will formal institutions recognise all these?

What are changes in the infrastructure – from CEO/Directors to teachers and staff required to transform education?

Would the critical questions be – Why would we change? What changes are necessary? Who decides the changes?  How are these changes achieved?  Would these changes be transformational?

In most institutions, are these decided by the vision and mission statements, by the CEO?  So, what are the implications? What are the tensions amongst all stakeholders, communities, networks, education providers and educators?  What are the impacts of these on learners?

1. Which is the top agenda in an educational institution? The vision and mission statement or learning?
2. How about the financial aspects – return on investments, budgets and resources allocation? (especially the private providers and the public universities) which are highly supported by the governments – user choice concept.
3. How would informal learning (like what we are having in social networking) be “counted” and appreciated by formal structure especially in such complex online environment? Would all institutions be viewing time spent outside “work” be of equal value to “on the job”?
4. What would be the emphasis in higher education? Research? Teaching? Learning? Social Networking? Second Life? ….. How would “learning” be evaluated from such perspectives? 
5. What are the roles of educators? This important point has not been addressed in the report…. Self learning is great…so where would the educators go?  What support would be offered to educators?

 6. How would we resolve the tensions between private and public providers- the competition for learners, for resources, for government support?
7. How about the accreditation of courses, curriculum? ISO and Quality Training Frameworks and compliance audits?  How could one assure quality in learning?  What approaches should be used?  What changes are necessary to support the 21st century  literacies and skills ?
8. Remember the Quality journey.. how would we ensure a quality learning and education – to meet and exceed the stakeholders and learners needs and expectations?
9. How about the equity issues, the access to technology, the digital divide (just touching the surface) and the language, cultural barriers that exist locally, nationally, and internationally?
10. Have the report (writers) made many assumptions that sound to reflect reality?

If they were to interview any CEO or principals in an education institution, they would have found out most of what I have asked above, and that is not as simple as the report sounds.   Wouldn’t it?



What sort of Schools do we want to create now and tomorrow?

I have reflected on this If We Didn’t Have the Schools We have Today, Would We Create the Schools We have Today? by Carrol T.G. (2000)

A networked learning community has three dimensions, and our schools have traditionally focused on only the first of these dimensions.

  • Transmission and conservation
  • Knowledge adaptation
  • Invention and knowledge generation

Learning as a Community – A learning community is not a community of learners.  A learning community learns as a community. 

In our schools today for example, we have communities of learners who are individually and separately going about their own individual learning—occasionally calling on each other’s knowledge and experience—but otherwise focused on their own individual learning tasks in isolation from each other.   Individual inquiry and learning, of course, will continue in the future, and we are finding new ways to support that learning with modern communication and information technologies. The new and more powerful opportunity available to educators today is to use these technologies to help individuals collaboratively construct networked learning communities that will accelerate and augment the community’s learning, as well as each individual’s learning.

Schools resist change, because they are designed to resist change…We have all had many encounters with school systems that resist changes.

It is important to recognize the power of communication technologies to bring about this transformation in education.

Communication technologies support an interactive construction of information.

Finally, using New Technology to Change Education

It has been 9 years since Carrol has written the paper.  What has been changed so far?  I think there has been some changes, especially in the use of ICT and Web 2.0 in High Schools and Higher Education.  There has been early education adopters who have worked out their pathways to prepare for their learners.  

But are these good enough?

Tony Bates in his Does technology really enhance the quality of teaching and learning? writes

Using technology to enhance learning merely increases costs without any measurable benefits. It does not address the need to change a teaching model that poorly serves mass higher education. It does not make the best use of technology. However, it may be a necessary first step to engage faculty. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that this will lead to more fundamental changes.

 In this Disaggregation of Higher Education, David Wiley uses history and a number of stories to imagine the near and medium-term futures of higher education. A call to action for faculty and administrators to engage in policy reform around open access to research and teaching and learning materials

What sort of reforms are necessary in our schools and higher education institutions?

Tony Bates writes in his e-Learning and 21st century skills and competencies

Using technology for teaching is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for developing the knowledge and skills needed in the 21st century. It has to be accompanied by curriculum reform (the content), by changes in teaching methods that facilitate the development of skills in a particular subject domain, and by changes in assessment. Obviously many instructors are successfully working in this way, but there is still a great deal of resistance to such radical change.

What are the curriculum reforms and changes in teaching methods and assessment necessary to bring about real changes in schools?

What sort of schools do we want to create now and tomorrow?


Theory of Assumption – The “A” Theory of Learning

I have been researching about learning and education theory that could explain how and why learning occurs, and that may stand  the test of time and space.  It sounds a very difficult task.  I am still searching…..

I have learnt about Cognitivism, Connectionism, Constructivism, Social Constructivism, Situation Learning Theory and Connectivism.  These theories of learning all provide logical explanation of how and why learning occurs based on the learning context, and have all form part of the formal teaching and learning pedagogy.

I am particularly convinced of Connectivism as a New Learning Theory.

Upon further examination, what I have found is that all of the above theories of learning and education are based on certain assumptions, which have been or have to be tested using experiments or research.  They are valuable theories in education and learning.

Based on the assumptions of learning, I have just found by today that there could be an important theory of Learning: The Assumption Theory of Learning.

In this Theory, we are making assumptions about learning from different perspectives.  From an educator’s perspective, we have made assumptions about the needs and readiness of learners, and assumed that there are best teaching and learning strategies for particular learners under particular learning context.  Experiments and research have been conducted to validate the findings.  From a learner’s perspective, the learners have assumed that they would be able to achieve the learning goals based on certain learning strategies, that suit their particular learning styles, and under certain learning context or ecology.  

What are the assumptions made in all these learning theories?  

To what extent are these assumptions valid in learning?

What assumptions of learning have you made?

What assumptions of learning could be applicable to a particular learning situation?

Who determines all these assumptions of learning?

Why have we conclude with those assumptions of learning?

How will our perception impact on learning? 

Will perception affect our assumptions of learning? How?

Will critical thinking affect our assumptions of learning? How?

Would I need to validate my suggested Theory of Assumption of Learning? 

I have been conducting research in our research team and I hope such assumptions of learning could emerge from the research.

Here is an extract from wikipedia about assumption:

An assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderence of the facts.

Assumption may also refer to:

  • In logic, natural deduction systems are defined as an assumption is made in the expectation that it will be discharged in due course via a separate argument.
  • Mathematical modelling can be used to map the outcome of different assumptions on the system being modelled.
  • In business planning and business plans, an assumption is an assertion about some characteristic of the future that underlies the current operations or plans of an organization


  • Responsibility assumption, a doctrine in the spirituality and personal growth fields holding that each individual has substantial or total responsibility for the events and circumstances that befall them in their life

I still have to formulate this Theory of Assumption of Learning in more concrete terms.

I would welcome you to join in in developing the concepts…..