My personal direction in education is one that is focused on the future. I believe that with the advent of technology, there is a deep need for a revolution in education rather than reform. Sir Ken Robinson, in his 2010 TED talk, made the point that reform implies we are trying to fix a broken system. However, what we really need to be doing is changing the system completely.
The first and foremost aspect of my personal educational philosophy is personalization of education. The major aspect of education that can and should be changed is the standardization of learning. There are many branches and directions a person can go and there is a need for more than just doctors and lawyers and engineers in the world. With the advent of technology and constant innovations, personalization of education is very much a possibility that can be explored for our education system. Through the tool review, I was able to see how using tools like Khan Academy can help start the process of a more personalized education, with students learning at their own pace and exploring subjects they are drawn to in more depth.
Siemens (2005) put forth a learning model for the digital world called ‘connectivism’. Connectivism states that learning and knowledge are based in a diversity of opinions and that learning is a process that takes place that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements. Learning is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.
Ken Robinson also states that the traditional education is linear and it is one we should get rid of. In this world of inter-connectivity and fields of study that branch out into specialized fields, personalization of education is very much possible. A student can follow their interests in a field and find a passion through the following of the connections into deep knowledge construction.
However, while I do advocate for personalization of education, that does not mean isolation of the learner in their learning. I definitely think that collaboration among peers is extremely important. Respectful collaboration between students can lead to active construction of deeper meaning and learning among peers. This collaborative constructivist approach is definitely part of education in a future completely dependent on technology.
Traditionally, higher education has focused on the constructivist learning methods while at the elementary levels, instruction is given more importance. However, Sugata Mitra highlighted in his ‘Hole-in-the-wall experiment’ and TED Talk in 2007, that young street children in India, who had never even seen a computer in their life, were able to teach each other how to use it by simple curiosity and the creation of a community of inquiry. Other children, who didn’t even know English, were able to teach themselves how to use a computer and play with games and explain why certain things didn’t work in the computer because of lack of needed hardware.
Garrison and Archer (2000) noted that construction of meaning may result from critical reflection but ideas are generated and knowledge is constructed through collaboration and sustained dialogue. This is an excellent point to note. While meaning can be constructed in isolated critical reflection, true deeper understanding of a subject can only come from collaborative dialogue. This takes me back to reading about Socratic dialogue and how the method Socrates used in his construction of understanding was critical and logical dialogue with others.
The Partnership of 21st Century Skills laid out a Framework of 21st century skills that are important for students to learn and focus on in today’s technology age. The framework highlights communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity as extremely necessary for students today. I think through a constructivist learning model, students would be able to work on and develop all four of these important skills.
My personal philosophy in education is still fluid and not fully formed yet. When I come across an idea that just cannot be ignored, my philosophy changes. However, as of now, I believe that technology is the present and future and education needs to change accordingly. As a result my philosophy focuses on personalization and collaboration.
- Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Bring on the Revolution
- Seimens G., (2005) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2(1)
- Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk: The child-driven education
- Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T, & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text–‘based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2
- Swan, K., Garrison, D.R., & Richardson, J.C. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning: The community of inquiry framework. In C.R. Payne (Ed.), Information technology and constructivism in higher education: Progressive learning frameworks(1st edition)
- Partnership for 21st Century Skills