At TEDx London, Sir Ken Robinson concluded the day’s conference with a poignant reminder: “The reason why today’s conversation is so important is that we are living in revolutionary times; that’s why we need a revolution in education”.
He identifies two major drivers of change, population growth and technology, both of which are changing exponentially …
“And that rate of change is going to accelerate; it’s not going to decrease. We’re not heading towards some calm pasture where all the change will be behind us; they will simply become more tumultuous”. Therefore, we now have to take note of the magnitude of changes and challenges, and of the need to see education as key to the future.
“I think it’s important that we recognise the conversation is not happening in a vacuum. It’s not a historical vacuum; it’s not a cultural vacuum”. The issue is to make personalisation, an “intensive relationship between students and teachers”, customization and community involvement part of mainstream education (refer to the posting of December 5, 2011).
“The technologies we have available in the schools don’t make for great education, but great educators can make something great of them.” Change needs to happen to the technologies in themselves and in the way implement them to personalise education.
“If we are resilient, and if we invest in and believe properly in our true creative powers, if we apply them in all our educational settings, then we will begin to shape a different type of future for everybody”. Sir Ken concludes by pledging his continued support of promoting change in education and of those who make it happen.
Watch the video of Sir Ken’s final remarks at TEDx, London; or download the transcript:
Allowing students to achieve identified learning outcomes in a manner most suitable to them, while providing them with the opportunities to determine when, how and with what they choose to learn, are probably the most fundamental issues in establishing a meaningful and authentic learning experience. It should come as no surprise that these concepts flow quite naturally from the three components of an authentic learning experience (quoted from the previous post):
- engagement (meaningful brain activity, not to be confused with entertainment),
- relevant and compelling assignments (requiring calculation, manipulation and
synthesis; not merely searching and finding basic information), and
- a high level of personalisation (allowing for immediate individualised feedback, choice of application and ensuring that learning is at an appropriate level).
This understanding is not new; in fact, most adults will acknowledge that these three components are timeless (as Chickering and Gamson have pointed out, and as will be discussed in a future posting). Yet, after decades of boring and uninspiring education, there is little evidence that we are actually implementing any of the three components of authentic learning in our classrooms. Technologically, platform-independent schools1. are few and far between, and students are still required to use whatever technology the school chooses to permit/favour at any given time. This is not natural; it is not organic. It is artificial beyond belief.
A great way to start changing the learning environment in a meaningful way is as simple as welcoming the technology that students wish to bring to their learning. This will initiate a subtle learning revolution that will be evolutionary in its effect. Not only will this foster engagement, independence and personalisation; it will certainly go a long way to make learning much more relevant and compelling. As Sir Ken Robinson so convincingly says: “Bring on the revolution!”
Eddie de Beer
1. For the purpose of this post, “platform independence” refers to the use of multiple, portable technology devices in schools: PC (laptop and tablet computers), Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac computers), Android and Blackberry (tablets, cell and smart phones) devices; as well as software/web-based technologies that can run on these multiple hardware platforms.
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