Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Half an Hour, Jul 30, 2020

This is an unedited transcript created by the Google Sound Recording on the Pixel 4 (the main reason I bought this phone in fact) of the webinar I gave July 30, 2020..

Thank you very much Sarah and I'm still waiting for that invitation to speak in Antarctica. Any time you're ready? I'm on a plane. Hi everyone. Welcome to our contact North online learning seminar. How to help students succeed by taking ownership of their learning online through personal learning? This might be one of the longest titles I've ever given one of my talks.

So I try to gather content from. Wide arrange of sources as possible. I organize that I read it first to try to understand it. I organize it try to find patterns and regularities in what I read and then I use that I apply that in the different projects that I do making podcast doing online courses etc and then a document that and there's a feedback looping there this feedback loop is absolutely essential to me, you know, the the questions the comments the criticisms, etc.

It's isolating it's depersonalizing and as many people appointed out personalized learning depends on surveillance and violates personal privacy the system has to know every. Thing about you in order to work properly. The less it knows the worse it works. So these I think are pretty significant criticism. So let's set up the contrast.

That sounds pretty traditional and it is pretty traditional. The other approach is based on practice of what I mean, here is you're trying to do something whatever it is. So, In the contents-based approach you learn the content and then you might practice it, you know the exercises at the end of the chapter.

On the other approach the practice-based approach you try to do something and you get a result. Now, it might be a total disaster. That's cool, right? Or it might be a success but whatever it is, you've produced something. So, Looking at these two approaches the content-based approach defines some kind of ideal state that everyone should achieve.

A certain body of knowledge say that everybody should obtain. As compared to the practice based approach which defines a desired state. Notice too that two different people are doing the defining here the ideal state is being defined by some third party the teacher or a board of education or whatever.

But in the practice based approach it is the person doing the task that is defining what they want to accomplish. Also, look at the outcome side. In the content-based side the practice that results takes the form of a test. The test is did you know the content? And the person supporting the learning is the person doing the testing so you go out you learn something then you take a test then the person tests you as compared to the practice-based approach you try to do something you get a result and then the person is there to catch you when you fall and to help you out.

In the content-based approach. After the test there's a knowledge gap and you are corrected and that's the approach right so each time you go through this loop you're making you know, you making mistakes you're failing the test or you're not doing perfectly on the test you go back you start over that's the that loop is the paradigm loop of personalized learning and you keep going through the content till you get it.

On the other hand. In the practice-based approach each time you practice that view is an opportunity right you've tried to do something maybe you failed maybe you succeeded whatever but that's a learning opportunity and it informs especially if you have somebody helping you it informs the next time you try to do it, so it's not that you've failed it's a lot of times you don't fail it's just each time you learn something as you go through this.

Now we can think of these as different kinds of learning environments as well the the contents-based approach it's almost like knowledge is this library. And you're trying to absorb the contents of this library but by contrast in the practice-based approach you're learning in an environment. I sometimes use the word dojo or I could also use the word gymnasium right it's a place where we do things it's open-ended is a library's closing there's only certain body of knowledge and that's it and environment you never know what you're going to get in an environment.

So that's the difference between personalized and personal knowledge personalized knowledge. Which is what all of these well many of these education technology companies are trying to do it's based on teaching you content testing you for content until you reach that ideal state and mostly the learning is done for you or you know, all the teaching all the work is done for you and you sit there and to a large degree you passively consume it.

Personal learning is learning that you do for yourself. So it's you trying to accomplish some goal some objective some tasks, whatever you define the task and you're instructor is someone who supports you and helps you rather than tests you. So there's been a lot of work especially in recent years about the idea of self-directed learning a self-directed learning is to a large degree what I mean by personal learning.

And students. People are beginning to say we need to be self-directed in their learning need to be making their own judgments need to be producing their own work. That they define as quality work. And these activities of self-directed learning typically occur in some kind of digital learning environment. So that's the distinction that's it.

So we're going to pause here. I don't see any questions in the chat, but this is a good spot to stop and get your comments and see if any of this made sense Sarah.

Is.

So and I see something from Amanda saying I'm looking forward to seeing concrete examples of how to design for this yeah and that's what's coming. And Hayden is saying I like the responsibility placed on the student can personal learning and but face as in this case, we need to know students and their abilities first that's an interesting point faith.

Do we I want to think about that can I help somebody without knowing all of their all of them and their abilities? I sort of can yeah. I mean if I'm asked by complete stranger for directions in a city. I need to know where they're going. I don't need to know what kind of car they're driving.

I need to know whether they're driving or walking. I suppose. Roy says can't see all the questions and comments. Roy, if you look I think it's at is it at the bottom of your of your screen just move your mouse down you'll see a thing that says to chat it looks like a little chat bubble click on that and a little window will pop up with all the questions and answers.

I think people are private messaging you. I don't think So if they are I'm not reading them.

Oh, no. Yeah, no, most of them are going to wall panelists. So check to check that chat. You're not seeing the messages either and I have chat open. Isn't that odd?

Oh, they're going to all panelists. Okay.

Yeah. Yeah, that's it. So yeah, you have to make sure that. If you want to share if you don't want to share well then just all panelists. Okay, so I'm glad I read out those comments because okay, how does the age of the learner impact their autonomy regarding personalized or personal learning?

That's a great question. As we know very young children are irresponsible. So, you know at a younger age, you're going to need to be guided more clearly. And especially, you know, they're going to need. More of a safety net at the same time. I would say there's significant scope for even very young children to be deciding on what kind of things they want to do.

Now, they're going to need suggestions, right? You know, they don't know very much about the world. Yeah, but we've seen very young children learn to play an instrument very young children learn to play a sport taken in there's one that I saw it takes an interesting garbage trucks. Loves garbage trucks.

I don't want. Like but there you go. How do you balance the need for a student to achieve a defined body of knowledge and processes of self-directed learning says Karen particularly in practical applications of knowledge? That's an excellent question and. I'm gonna go through the examples that we have coming up and then let's come back to that.

So Karen, don't let me forget about that question but we'll look at some of the concrete examples of what I'm talking about and then we'll come back to it and see if it's still there. So sole dead is asking what is the theory behind the personal learning? It's the idea.

Soledad that learning is based on. Trying to do something. Instead of trying to absorb a body of knowledge. So there's the distinction there is in the starting point. In the end, you'll probably end up knowing stuff and you're in the end you'll be able to do stuff but it's the starting point the starting point is what's different is starting point is the individual person deciding for themselves what it is that they're trying to accomplish or try to do.

All right, let's let's this will become clearer as we go through some of these concrete examples. Now, Let's go to move my mouse. There we go. So let's think about a few concrete things when we're talking about learning personal learning learning objectives learning processes, and even how we evaluate personal learning.

So, Our learning objectives are changing and we know they're changing because we're going through a worldwide pandemic that nobody will not nobody but most of us did not plan for and people were not taught ahead of time. Here's how to be successful in times of a pandemic when everything's closed, right?

We're realized and this is becoming normal not the pandemics are becoming normal, but rapid change the entire environment is new isn't what it was a few years ago that's changing. So the kinds of things in the way we learn has to change. It's not about getting a certain set of skills the way it was before.

So undoing some work with. I forgot in the name of the organization and I can't see my speakers notes the it's a international science organization that might be the name of it. Looking at how learning is changing. Post-pandemic and just I would say how it's changing generally and they had some ideas.

I've stolen their ideas because I have no shame and I've added to them a bit. The big part I've added was the how-to part. So what the objectives are for learners is to be able to build awareness be able to just sense the environment better to be able to build their own knowledge of science of algorithms etc.

To be able to develop a good character, however, they define good to be their ethics that are emotional intelligence. To be able to learn how to judge in different environments to counter deception to draw inferences to explain things. To be able to build resilience to be able to respond to things like a global pandemic things like global warming things like changing societies and.

To be able to work with other people in that society. How do you develop consensus how to collaborate cooperate how to be a responsible citizen? So the key here is the difference between what might be previous objectives for learning is we would try to teach them the knowledge directly.

We would try to teach them judgment directly but because things are changing so rapidly they have to learn how to build their own knowledge how to build their own character how to build their own resilience in order to adapt to and prosper in this rapidly changing world. For institutions, it's a different story learning institutions your organizations.

They want to develop all of those things in students, but you know, it's not simply about well you get up in front of the classroom and tell them these things anymore. I've borrowed from Robin DeRosa's ace framework to give you an example of this and she describes three mechanisms for institutions to develop their approach to learning.

Adaptability connection and equity. So for example in adaptability institutions need to learn things like how to manage with flexible deadlines how to build student design and choice into programs. How to have module based schedules. How to have flexible policies etcetera. In terms of connection. Being able to foster classroom communities is an example how to connect to contents to curriculum etc in terms of equity thinking about universal design for learning thinking about fairness open educational resources for accessibility, etc.

I do recommend her work on this. So we have the objectives for learners being able to develop these capacities objectives for institutions creating this environment in which students can develop these capacities. So we move forward now and look at the learning process itself. This is one example. It's a description of principles of what is called agave.

I'm going to pronounce it how to goji. And if anywhere disagrees with me tough, um, And you know, this is one paper about it. It's been around for a while it basically is the idea of self-directed learning. Some of the principles include learning happens when the learner is ready.

And as somebody who was forced to take math classes at eight in the morning, trust me you want to wait until the learner is ready it also requires the learner to move beyond knowledge and that's why I talk about the the practice the application the trying to do something it's we're learning does not depend solely on the teacher you need to develop the capacities and the abilities of the individual to learn on their own and it's focused on what the student.

Needs not on the syllabus we have a history of defining and we still do this redefine a body of knowledge that students have to have as time goes by we're going to move away from this and this is not going to be a one-size-fits-all when students are younger they will probably need more things in common like, you know, they'll need to learn how to read how to do mathematics but as they go older and by older I'm even thinking, you know, In their teens the individuals learning becomes more and more individual and people have their own interests in their own areas of specialization.

And people always ask at this point well, what about the things that everybody has to learn and I always draw on a comment from Seymour Pappert to respond to this if they really have to learn it they will learn it when they're trying to do things and in fact it's when you're trying to do things that you really learn what you need to learn.

I study trigonometry four times in my life, yes four times. I didn't actually learn it until I started programming computer games. I wanted to make a cube rotate as a board right so and that's when I learned trigonometry. I didn't learn it in high school. I didn't learn it in college.

I didn't learn it and mathematics 101 in university know. I learned it when I tried to use it to program there you go. So there are different kinds of learning processes that help people learn on their own this is a paper that describes three of them one is interdependent learning what that is is doing a lot like what I do is going out finding resources finding tools, that'll help themselves doing their own research into a subject, etc.

Another is what's called double and triple loop learning and what that means is you try to learn something and then you reflect on your process of learning so you learn how you learn much useful to have because the more you learn about how you learn the more effectively you're going to learn.

And then participation in communities of practice is very common having a community of practice helps because you're getting that feedback and that interaction that's so valuable. Now, what's important to keep in mind here and this is what this study that. I've cited here says is students aren't gonna learn to do these things just by themselves.

They're not just gonna learn how to learn. Without help without support and in fact what they found is the only thing that they can be reliably trusted to do on their own is to participate in communities of practice. The the learning how to learn the double loop triple loop learning etc.

Even things like going out and researching becoming as they say digitally literate these things, they need advice support and encouragement in order to be able to master. And that's an important thing. When I talk about personal learning, I've never talking about learning all by yourself and that'll become clearer some of the stuff I have to say.

Personal learning is learning in context. So designing learning is to a large degree about finding those concepts. Finding those contacts. There are many different approaches and theories that describe how to do this active learning problem-based learning case studies, which are very popular in business school working to greater learning design and creation learning all of these are methods of creating some kind of authentic context.

For people to do stuff and then the other side of it the learning supports that's the stuff that the educational institution is doing. Beginning with coaching and encouragement you can do it etc. Providing methods tools models. You know, just you know, sometimes people talk about scaffolding and the the key to scaffolding the key to making scalpelding work is it's supports the students, but the student needs to want the support.

Access to learning resources and this is why I think open educational resources are so important. This is something that we can provide for people that they can access when and where they need it. And then connection to the wider community. Again, another important kind of support that an educational institution offers.

I'll talk a bit more about that in just a set. Here's an example. This is a game. It's called No Man's Sky. It's really complicated. I play it a lot. I've played I've measured about 800 hours of this game. I know stupid right? I'll bet I love it. It's it's a processed defined world so that or a programmatically defined world.

So like, It has galaxies and galaxies or planets none of the planets are the same they all have their own unique environment life-forms and all of that and they're all generated automatically by the computers you never know what to expect. And then you have your ships and your space suits and all of that they're different minerals that you can find different things that you can build and creates complex and what they do and this is common for pretty much all video games is they give you this really complex difficult open-ended environment to do stuff in and then they might assign you some quests or whatever and then they give you this contextual support for learning.

If you look at look at video games, they've really figured this out how to provide in-game contextual support and the idea sometimes people talk about flow the idea here is to give you just enough support that you can be able to be successful in the game but enough uncertainty and complexity so that's challenging.

So a lot of the sort of. You know environment-based learning that I'm talking about will be found in games and simulations serious games is what they're sometimes called calling them games because I'll ultimately doesn't matter if it's a serious game or not in my mind the idea here is that you're providing an environment with optimal learner control and authenticity you're creating these actual environments where they need to do something solve a problem.

And then you provide them knowledge and support the scaffolding as they need it. Here's a couple examples that just popped up. In my network this morning one of them comedy for racial justice. I love this concept and basically it's a link here to a conversation about using comedy to promote racial justice and the organization here's helping people develop their own comedy in order to achieve these outcomes.

Similarly the other one here is from planet four which is an organization associated with green, peace where there creating mechanisms for code designing challenges on the idea here is that you you create these challenges and then the people who are in your activist community go out and they do these challenges it might be, you know, measuring the bird population it might be, you know, evaluating the pollution levels in a river it might be taking a temperature.

Image of the atmosphere whatever. There are many different challenges that might be an activist or an advocacy thing depends on what the people themselves want to do. These are good concrete examples of the sorts of things that some organizations are doing that support personal learning. I'm not saying educational institutions should necessarily do these things but these kinds of things.

Another thing that's really important in learning and isn't talked about enough in my view is networks and learning. What we've discovered especially during this pandemic but also before that the big thing that educational institutions provide is not just content and knowledge and in fact you can get content and knowledge anywhere we're learning that but what they provide is access to a network of contents.

I'm sorry of contacts influencers collaborators. Colleagues, you know partners in crime whatever and it's this access to networks that really matters and is in fact the value proposition of top flight elite universities and it is the thing that people are missing when they're all at home isolated but you know, a lot of people are missing this anyways even before the pandemic they did not have access to these networks.

They did not have access to communities of practice. It was only if, You went to you know a college or a university that you got access to it. This is something that is valuable for everyone. So the idea here is to provide support, you know, like I tell people don't try to create a network try to find a network and support what they're already doing.

So what you're trying to do here is help this network enable common learning to help help them do goal oriented development and experimentation, you know, what is the network trying to do to to work in a cooperative structure to help each other? You know to to even things like evaluation measurement etc that they might not necessarily thought about and this here is an example supporting innovative or sorry supporting learning and cooperation between innovative schools in Finland, and if you follow that link you'll follow that you'll learn more about that.

I've often talked about personal learning environments. There's a role here for colleges schools colleges and universities to support personal learning environments. I've long advocated. Instead of focusing the teaching activity or the supporting learning activity simply to the students that are in the class in front of you the best role that an institution can take is to support these activities on as wide a basis as possible thus allowing each person in a society to access.

Learning resources scaffolding coaching support all the stuff that I've been talking about from these different educational institutions, it's a very different kind of role right it's a it's a supportive role rather than a pedagogical role. I think I think it's important to understand this. Finally before we go to our next discussion break evaluation and assessment the old race as I said gap days assessment based on what you know, the new way is iterative assessment what you can do assessment is based on what you can do and to a large degree this assessment is done by the learners themselves, you ask them did you do were you able to do what you wanted to do?

Did our help help you do what you wanted to do and you know as I say the proof is in the pudding and in some cases literally in the pudding right does the pudding taste good did you do what you want to do? And I want you to think about that because this is a key question that comes up a lot when we're talking about especially personal learning self-directed learning, how do we know if there any good?

You know, let's take a physicist, you know, I'm a university I want to hire a physicist to do astrophysics or something like that right how do I know they're any good at this how do I know that they're actually going to do astrophysics and not play video games in the office, well one way the old way is we would ask do they know a certain body of information.

But when we look at how we actually recruit and hire people we're looking for a lot more than that. We're asking do they see the world the way a physicist does do they ask the same sort of questions do they use the words right do they consider the same sort of standards of evidence other physicists consider can they do the things physicists can do and that can be as simple as solving equation to as complex as a telescope at a particular star have I actually done physics and shared the results have they published any papers would other physicists recognize them as being a physics.

Being a physicist. Amy. Any discipline. These are the kinds of questions you're going to be asking. You're not going to be asking to email a certain amount of stuff. You're going to be asking. Are you do you embody this profession? And go to an auto mechanic, you're not going to ask him, you know, you're not going to give him a test.

You're going to look at previous work. Maybe get recommendations from previous customers things like that. Eventually this will allow me down by computer. Eventually, you'll be will be able to use artificial intelligence tools to capture what a person has produced what they've done with their contributed to society and automatically understand what their skills or competencies are.

So this will be a tool that we use in the future not quite there yet but we're getting there. All right break time. I've thrown a lot of stuff at you. Number of concrete examples of what I mean. What do you think? I see a question from Susie? I teach English as a second language.

Do you think the personal learning approach works well with skills-based subjects like ESL? Can you imagine teaching language without practicing the language? I mean language learning. For me has actually been one of the major motivations for me adopting this approach. I've been subjected to a lot of language learning in my life.

I grew up in Quebec until grade four, so I got grade one to four and come back and then I moved to Ontario we did exactly the same content from grade five to eight. So and I've learned over time. That in my case it was French as a second language the way to learn French is to use French to try to do things in French and my greatest learning moment in French the big aha's and all of that came when I tried and succeeded when it's I think I did in giving a talk in French.

That was the challenge. That's the thing that got me to look deeply into okay, what is it? I'm trying to do here learning this language. I need to do that with Spanish too. I'm so so in Spanish but I'm not gonna learn Spanish until I actually go speak Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country.

That's what's gonna count.

Scott is asking will personal learning be mainstream if so how long will this take it's gonna take time. Somebody was commenting in a another meeting that I was at earlier this morning that all the parents want the kids to learn the old way they want subjects, you know back to basics memorize multiplication tables, etc.

I'm not influences it gonna disappear, so there's gonna be an overlap, right? I think so. As time goes by personal learning will sort of gradually replace traditional learning as it becomes more and more important to learn on your own the environment is basically forcing it on us and our educational systems will probably be the last to react I am always welcome in Ecuador to speak Spanish, thank you.

I'd love to visit Ecuador again. Learning and we've got a question angela says learning, maybe changing but many industry standards. Based requirements and skills etc not yeah. So. Listen, let's a really good point there are a lot of disciplines including computing technology, but also including medicine and so on airline pilots right you've gotta know a certain body of content.

But. What you need to do I think is reconceptualizes right the person let's let's take airline pilots that's a good example a person wants to be an airline pilot. For a lot of people flying is a passion. And the body of learning that they need to learn is the thing that they need to accomplish the challenge that they need to accomplish in order to become an airline pilot, it's not the only thing.

You're gonna have to be successful in that simulator it's you know, it my thinking is we do much better at training pilots now we're simulators. Rather than putting them in actual planes before they've learned, you know, so putting them in this authentic environment really matters and it's when they're in the simulator that they realize okay.

I need this theory. I need all of this important stuff in order to be successful as an airline pilot and I think that's what we'll see.

So that's a questions now coming. Ask my student this is Jay Golden ask my students, why are you in this course what do you want to learn yeah? I do that to. I you know, and it's heard because I mean, I I haven't taught formally now for a number of years, but I spent many years teaching in college and university classes and.

I taught philosophy and so I had a lot of my students were in there because it was a required course, you know philosophy for engineers. And the hardest thing was to try to get them to find something that they wanted to take away from the class aside from an a butcher.

I mean, look, that's really the only way I think in my mind to really reach them is to find something that that captures their interests in their imagination. Amanda says, my husband is a pilot and I've seen this in practice it's amazing to see yeah. I I watch a lot of pilot videos believe it or not and and I think most people would find them boring but yeah, you're watching the pilot go through the motions from in the plane to taxing takeoff flight landing and all the exchanges and I find that really interesting.

I love flight what else have we got here, this is fun. I'm running out of time to. I know I wondering what in the path is to foster engagement and find self-directed. I know where I'm going however how do we connect self-direction within an educational environment says Alfonso almost half an hour ago.

I'm sorry it took so long off on so similarly dentistane typical educational institutions want some metric achieved yeah, all right, so let's do the practical bit here so how how are you in your institution going to support this stuff? This is an old framework but it's a good framework.

I've called it the triad model. I took it from someone else and I first learned of this back in the back in the 1990s when I was teaching in First Nations communities in northern Alberta. And this was absolutely essential especially in these rural and wilderness contexts we have three components you have the learner.

Who really are roommate for themselves in and and you know, especially in people in a in a in a remote environment or online environment you can't force them and this is key the learner needs to be there choosing to be there selecting the reason why they want to learn it.

I think we're this covering this now. Mean what? Authors the education provider who and you know, they're they're providing subject matter experts perhaps assessment services and then there's a third component which is I've just called this the host often they're local to the learner they are an advocate for the learner somebody that's on the learner's side which is something that's really missing a traditional education offering coaching support and community.

Good example of this is the aboriginal financial officers association of Alberta and athabasking universities become project where they've actually assembled the team they brought in and indigenous mentor created an environment off-site location, etc, there are many examples of this host provider framework afterbasket where I began has been a pioneer in this for a long time.

But there's not just the university shopify which is a major company here in Ottawa well I'm outside on it yeah they have regular community meetups now they can't have them in person anymore but they used to have them in their their meeting area on the fifth floor right downtown in Ottawa now they do them online using virtual meeting and they help develop and support the data analytics and graph learning community.

I went to a number of their sessions. Here's something from Staples the working and learning store. Staples has they have all the stuff that they sell but in the back they have this whole learning area.

And people go in people at Staples help them they might they staples offers various programs people can offer their own programs in this area, etc. Education providers things that they can do helping with intergenerational learning some examples here the NRC. Iraq youth employment strategy program, it's a pretty good example of that sort of thing.

Teaching from home there's a whole bunch of resources that I've collected at the URL here that help people learn to teach from home and you know, you know have to be employed by a school or university to teach them home and in fact a lot of the teaching that's happening in the future especially will be by professionals who are otherwise doing other things but also doing some teaching from home.

Collaborative tools an educational provider that provides access to a collaborative tool or environment is creating a space where a community can learn for itself simply hosting an environment. I put up creative creatively here's is one example. Microsoft teams is another example, you know, imagine if ecology university just created message boards discussion lists etc for the community to use to self-organ.

Ize. Cetera. Again practical tool. Working out loud. There's a whole movement around this if you've ever flown like I forget which US airline it is. I think it was the United that a thing called Channel 9. And channel 9 when you're flying from I don't know Chicago to LA, it's all the cockpit communications.

So you're basically listening to the radio you're listening to the pilots fly the plane as they're flying the horn so cool. Working out loud, that's what I do. I mean, I'm a researcher and educational theory and design etc but you know, I write my newsletter I share blog post, etc.

I work out loud. And what I'm trying to do with that is not to convince everybody that I'm right, but to give people a sense of what it's like for me to do my work to provide a model or an example for them if they're interested. Open educational resources to my mind should be supported by the community as a whole.

I think it's an educational institutions have a key role to play here supporting them in general. I think is a very good idea. An architecture of participation, this is something that Doug Belshaw wrote up on organizing cooperative ventures and again the sort of support and scaffolding that an educational community can do to help people.

Organize themselves is essentially important. And those are the concrete examples that I have. I know that I don't have very much time left. Any final comments before they kick me off the air?

And I'm good to stay as well. And you know, and and you have my website there on the screen. I post a daily newsletter and you know is it's one of these things. I always tell you if you're looking for something you'll see at all the time and my newsletters and example of that of these themes that I've talked about.

Once you're looking for these themes you're seeing them all over the place and and you'll see them. I picked a few examples out of the hundreds that I see over time, you know time after time and and I try to post those in the newsletter to give you concrete examples and not just theory.

Tons of resources great thanks Hayden, how does learner motivation factor into personal learning asks? Dennis a long time ago. I'm sorry. Dennis, it's key, right? The whole point of personal learning is that your capturing what already motivates the person. And that's the really important part yes. I always thought I was I I talk of motivation as getting people to do things that they don't want to do right and really wouldn't it wouldn't education be easier if we got people to do things that they want to do, at least.

I think they were it would be. How do we square them against the backdrop of a given curriculum, that is set up by a third party? I've done presentations in the past about. Supporting your own learning and development and. What I do it's for students and basically I tell them young become gorilla learners.

Right, yeah. You need to take control of your own learning..

Don't depend on the authorities now you have a job to do and that's true in school is true in the workplace, but there's an old rule about jobs it goes back to. The days of the tall ships and sailors working in the mast folding sales or whatever is a very dangerous job and the rule is one hand for the ship one hand for yourself.

The idea right is you know, don't put both hands on this sale make sure you're hanging on because it's a dangerous job and that rule applies to work and learning if you're in a structured environment and many of us are one hand for the ship one hand for yourself and so creating and managing your own learning here are these skills that you can learn yeah, you still have to pass this test but while you're here.

Why not get some learning while you're at it, that's the approach that I would take. How do you see traditional university degree programs courses credit systems changing that's a great question and we don't have the time to talk about it in full but the short answer is they're in trouble right now institutions have a monopoly and granting degrees in certificates artificial intelligence is on the verge of replacing them.

Assessments of individuals will be done automatically for a fraction of the cost based on their public performance and people will do things in public in order to be assessed right and as soon as we have that we don't need university degrees anymore. Or more accurately the university degree becomes one of those things like a Hermes bag right where it it's a status signal you're you're telling the world.

I spent this much money yeah I spent sixty thousand dollars in our Harvard education. I may know the same as you but I'm richer you see what I mean, so yeah things are things are gonna change. I think pretty rapidly you're we're at this weird kind of. Inflection point in time right now, we're a lot of stuff's gonna change in a hurry we'll certifications and degrees be among those maybe maybe not we might have to wait for the next inflection point five years ten years from now but it might change this time it's hard to say.

Some courses are not directly pertinent to the students' goals but required in the curriculum how to instructors get some motivated yeah, so they don't want to be there but they have to be there in my approach is always. Trying to you know, how can you subvert this course to your own objectives?

I was taking a Canadian history course in university wall and university. I worked on the student newspaper. I took all of my. Assignments in the course and made them feature articles for the University newspaper and that's what you call subverting your course. Somebody asked, for example from economics. I'm crappy at economics, that's not true.

I took it burst courses.

I mean economics is hard because.

I'd have to think about that. I'm sorry. I really would have to think about that.

Just leave it in the back of my mind for a sec see if I can't come back to that.

Okay, how do we leverage this concept of personal learning for students who do not have the motivation to engage in digital learning for a void variety of reasons right so what do they want to engage in that's where you begin it doesn't matter whether they want to engage in digital learning actually.

I don't care honestly. Of what I do care about is what they want to do and almost everybody wants to do something yeah there's a small percentage who just want to sit and watch TV but everyone wants to do something some people even want to talk about what they're watching on TV, that's cool.

Find that thing or better help them find fat thing this person who doesn't want to go online it's probably because they found something in their life, that's way more interesting. Sheep husbandry, maybe they're really interested in sheep. All right, so help them learn about sheep. I whatever it takes honestly get them connected up with other sheep people.

That's the approach that I would take can personal learning be used in more traditional settings or is it mostly digital I would say personal learning adapts very well to traditional settings in in I mean offline settings. It would take another entire talk to talk about how to do that and I would have to think about that but I do believe that yes personality personal learning is what we had before we had schools and universities.

Fuzzy is saying as a conclusion the human connection is at the center of all of this and not just the technology alone yeah there's a whole thing called presence teri Anderson and Walter and Walter Archer and Randy Garrison, these are colleagues that I had at the University of Alberta and they did a lot of really good and really original work on presents.

I'll just type it. Into the chat area, so and I always depicted the idea of presence as the idea that there is a human being at the other end of the microphone and. I you know, it's important, you know, it's not the entire thing. But it's important because it gives us context it gives us meaning and purpose it gives us feedback all of these things that other humans do in that we do for other humans are so important to our cognitive development and indeed our personal identity, so I think yeah, I'm human connection is very important in all of this.

Yeah, I think I think we might not need to pick two more. I think I may have. Got them all. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't see any that. I've missed if I have missed you. I'm sorry but I think I've responded to all of the questions.

Bye everyone. Thanks for coming.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: Sept 21, 2020 10:31 a.m.