…what is it?
I pride myself in saying that I have quite un-orthodox views of education. I’m pedantic (we should use the word learning not education!) and sometimes focus too much on what is said, rather than why it’s being said…I like to read educational texts like Holt’s ‘instead of education’, Freire’s ‘pedagogy of the oppressed’, and Falko Peschel’s ‘Open Learning’ (although, I think the book is only available in German…sorry); watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks; and visit/read about cool schools like Grundschule Harmonie, Laborschule Bielefeld, and Summerhill School. While doing all of that, I then get mad at myself because in that entire list of pedagogues there’s not a single woman. Yes, Maria Montessori did some coo stuff…but that’s not radical enough for me anymore!
But I will not let this turn into a feminist rant about how there are way too many old, white men getting all the glory in (my) pedagogy libraries. That’s for another post.
Essentially, there is a module called ‘The Future of Learning’ at Newcastle University. It is lead by Sugata Mitra who has 4 beautiful TED talks and 2 books, and some cool projects (like the School in the Cloud). Instead of teaching the 20 odd students or so that are actually signed up for the module (like I was 2 years ago…) the Open Classroom allows learners from across the globe to take part!
All you have to do – or at least all I did yesterday – was to go to this website and listen to the provocation at the same time as the class takes place at the university. Then the students in the class, and those learning outside the class, tweet their notes and engage in discussions via twitter, making sure to include #EDU8213.
In this way, quite a few interesting people got involved in the conversation leading it off onto interesting tangents.
For example, Daniel Callaghan got involved in relation to learning, education, and happiness
@a_tripsandflips Absolutely. However many children, I know, feel differently when they leave school due to 'the currency' of quals. #EDU8213
— Daniel Callaghan (@Mr_D_Callaghan) October 27, 2015
We also discussed whether or not teachers should have all the answers…
— Angelika 🇪🇺 (@tripsandflips_) October 27, 2015
— Sugata Mitra (@Sugatam) October 27, 2015
There area a LOT of tweets around all sorts of topics at #EDU8213 if you’re interested…and please, GET INVOLVED!
This was an exciting experience, that made me think critically about learning and education from angles I hadn’t previously thought about too much. I hope that the audience will continue to grow for the coming live sessions.
Although this was a great experience, I would like to see more involvement from Sugata Mitra himself. He did pose a few questions, and responded to some tweets…but I’d like to hear more from him on twitter. I realise that he’s busy actually teaching the class that’s present in person at Newcastle University, but still…
Reflecting on the two hours I spent on twitter yesterday, I realise that there are a few things that I want to address in regards to this way of learning.
Fitting complex thoughts into 140 characters on twitter is difficult, but also a useful exercise. This was the first time I’ve fully engaged in various academic conversations via twitter. I’d previously only had conversations with one or two other people via twitter that were mostly started by a question I had asked them, or an article either of us had shared. This time however, it was different. Several people became involved in a single conversation, so abbreviations became my friends, and grammar went out the window (I’m sorry to all the language teachers I’ve ever had!). At times, the conversations were difficult to follow because different participants of the conversation went off on different tangents…but I tried my best.
What I realised during my various conversations was that they were very varied. I was involved in conversations about whether teachers should have all the answers, whether testing is the best option, and whether kids can teach themselves how to read and write. I have discussed all of these topics before, and while I have gained a few insights from talking to different people about them (as you always do). However, I’m not sure that I was able to put across my entire opinion, and whether the people I was talking to were able to put their entire thought process into their own argumentation. Anther thing I realised was that none of the conversations really shocked me, or changed my mind. It was more of a conversation about things I’ve had lots of conversations about before (but this time with different people…).
Overall, this was an interesting experience, and I’m excited to see how this module continues to evolve. I’d love to see some descriptive statistics on how many people took part, how many tweets there were, how many responses, conversations, retweets there were. Who got involved? What did I miss?
I’m looking forward to the next session on Tuesday the 17th of November 2015 at 14:30 – 16:00!