Thursday, 11 September 2008

Enabling lucidity in a complex, fragmented world of knowledge.

I'm still absorbing George Siemens' keynote at the ALT-C conference. I found it very inspiring, and it made me realise that I need to revisit connectivism.

I just want to capture a couple of things before they get too mixed up with everything else in my head.
The first is the importance of acknowledging and embracing complexity in learning, and the need to seek lucidity through the connection of fragmented nuggets of potential learning. I just want to make a note that a coaching approach may be a way of addressing this. This links in with Professor Graham Gibbs' talk on the importance of feedback in student achievement.

The second thing I want to pick up on is the deliberately provocative statement that George made about the future role of the University. He suggested that the only purpose of the institution in the future will be validation. I'd like to add 3 more things that I think we will be able to provide students with for their fees:

1 Universities will provide exclusive communities of high quality learners. Other worldwide, local, free, commercial, open and closed learning communities will be still used by students, and will be central to their learning, but the University will provide quality course-mates through effective marketing, incentives and a rigorous selection process.

2 Universities will provide the best learning environments to support a learning community with a physical, face to face element.

3 Universities will provide quality feedback. Tutors will be expert mentors and coaches, helping students to navigate through the turbulent ocean of potential. Validation will be extracted from this process through an ongoing process of formative assessment. The diversity of individual learning plans will require criteria for assessment to be agreed between the tutor and the learner. Marking will increasingly be seen as too crude a tool for bringing lucidity to complex learning patterns, and conversations will form the basis of assessment.

Maybe. Maybe not. It's always dangerous to predict the future. However, trying to shape it is good fun.

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