How reflective it is of today's society that we would think that school is something we create to serve our needs, rather than (say) where we offer our wisdom and experience to our children so that they may make the best use of it they can to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. But no. We read here, "Are students leaving school with the skills and dispositions employers desiderate?" For example, " our subcommittee, representing the "travel and hospitality" field, reviewed current course offerings conducive to preparing students with interests in hotel management, event planning, and tourism." And we read, "it's important to bring many voices to the table if schools are to fulfill a purpose of serving their respective communities." If the success of our schools depends on our success in predicting the future, then our children are in trouble.
A moth can recognize odour after just few exposures. The olfactory learning system in moths is completely mapped, but artificial neural networks do not perform the same task as well as moths. The difference, explains the article, lies in how the two types of neural networks learn (that is, how the two types of neural networks create and adjust connections between neurons). The artificial neural network uses back propagation. In other words, it is given feedback from a training set. The moth doesn't. "The successful recognition of an odor triggers a reward mechanism in which neurons spray a chemical neurotransmitter called octopamine into the antenna lobe and mushroom body." I don't know how well this work with students (probably not so well) but it's interesting to note that this discussion of learning doesn't involve language, learning content, or the social construction of meaning, or any of the trappings of traditional learning theory.
It's a bit funny because I am sometimes tempted to say "the future of education is learning outside of the classroom." Certainly it includes it. Consider this evidence for example: "Take a high school student who has always had excellent grades. They’ve been involved in clubs, sports, and organizations for years. This student divides their time between several of their interests and is still able to maintain top-tier grades." These extracurricular activities enrich their educational experience, and lead to success in more traditional learning. Also, "An added bonus of making learning outside of the classroom a priority is that students get an early taste of what they enjoy doing. The earlier career exploration occurs, the sooner students are able to cross career paths off their lists."
I have from the beginning days of this newsletter been using the experience of traditional media as a touchstone on which to base my predictions for the learning and development sector. And I have also been saying that educational providers will one day face an overnight crisis that was 20 years in the making. The "armageddon" facing traditional news media serves as our guide. If you think about it, the threat to news media from social networks came out of nowhere. At the same time, social networks represent the most recent iteration of a movement that began with personal web pages and blogs. people still don't believe it, but traditional learning providers will be faces with a similar existential crisis. It will seem to have come from nowhere and be from a completely unexpected source. And the signs will have been there for 20 years.
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.