One recurring theme of the thirteen weeks of MOOC sessions has been that the current education system is no longer appropriate for learners in the 21st century. Many of the MOOC presentations in the past 13 weeks point to this problem from various angles – formal learning, informal learning or somewhere in between. The following image illustrates the ideas slowing coming together in my mind.
In terms of formal learning, Tony Bates believes that changes can occur within the existing education institutes; and the introduction of technology-enhanced learning requires educators to get rid of the prejudice against online learning and university professors to let go of, what Bates called, the Socratic myth, which is the idea of teachers and learners having dialogues as interlocutors in Plato’s book, which no longer holds true in the lecture halls of 21st century mega universities. Zoraini Wati Abas, for instance, shows us how mobile learning can be used as a support system, providing timely and incremental learning and motivational support for learners.
Looking at the formal learning from another angle, Martin Weller points to the importance of academic institutes recognizing digital scholarship, moving away from the inefficient and costly publishing model and moving towards online publications that better promotes interdisciplinary endeavours.
From yet another angle, David Wiley and Rory McGreal urge universities to open their content; Wiley further envisions the future of education consisting of learner-generated materials; professors’ notes on a website would become obsolete.
On the informal learning side, there is Clark Quinn’s idea of slow learning, contending that the current education system takes learning out of the context of our everyday life, putting that in an institute, often requiring learning to memorize a great of information. This does not match the way our brain process information, as we are better at learning incremental chunks of knowledge in a meaningful and authentic context.
Dave Cormier stresses the role of lifelong learning in 21st century workplace. Building rhizome-like learning networks can foster an environment more conducive to continuous knowledge acquisition and construction, resulting in modern employees being more competent in adapting to the changing environment of the 21st century workplace, doing away with employee training and costly consultation.
Finally, in the discussion of technology-enhanced learning, it is important to consider the tools. Here Jon Dron reminds us that tools themselves are not technology. Dron’s definitions of hard vs soft technologies relevant to both formal and informal learning, further help us to undertand that soft technologies are perhaps more useful in building learning and support communities and equipping learners with the ability to navigate information in networks, thereby promoting lifelong learning.