TIES2012 (XI). David Istance: Technology Use and Broader Models of Schooling and Learning — common arguments re-examined

Notes from the III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight, in Barcelona, Spain, in January 1-3, 2012. More notes on this event under the tag ties2012.

David Istance (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, OECD)
Technology Use and Broader Models of Schooling and Learning — common arguments re-examined.

ICTs in education have been a matter of analysis and research since 1980s, including lot of work on adults and lifelong learning and technology, role of technology in higher education (especially e-learning), schools, digital literacy, curriculum change, students assessment, equipment, teacher training, leadership, open educational resources, millennium learners, etc.

More recent reports show the importance of digital literacy and competence in two ways: as a tool in itself, and as a means to achieve better performance on traditional disciplines, especially writing and reading.

Innovative learning environments

ILE aims to inform practice, leadership and reform through analysis of innovative configurations of learning for children and young people, on three strands: learning research, innovative cases, and implementation and change.

Learning conclusions. Environments should:

  • Make learning central, encourage engagement, and be where learners come to understand themselves as learners.
  • Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative.
  • Be highly attuned to learners’ motivations and the importance of emotions.
  • Be acutely sensitive to individual differences including in prior knowledge.
  • Be demanding for each learner but without excessive overload.
  • Use assessments consistent with its aims, with strong emphasis on formative feedback.
  • Promote horizontal connectedness across activities and subjects, in-and out-of-school.
  • All these characteristics should be present, and not just one or two of them.

So, is technology on of the learning principles? Maybe not. Technology is more implicit rather than explicit in the learning ‘principles’. There is the important distinction between technology-centred and learner-centred approaches to learning with technology:

  • Fostering engagement.
  • Learning with others.
  • Supporting targeted respondses to difference and facilitating personalization.
  • Underpinning assessment for learning.
  • Providing connectedness (to others, to knowledge, etc.).

Motors and locus of innovation in education

OECD (2004). Innovation in the Knowledge Economy: Implications for Education and Learning analysed four sources of innovation or pumps:

  • The science pump: knowledge and research.
  • Networking pump: creating scale and synergies.
  • The reorganisation pump: modular restructuring.
  • The technology pump: more efficiency, new ways and means.

Education is not strong on any of these. On the other hand, technology is integral to all of them, not just in the technology pump.

There is a common framework implicit in much research and discussion of schooling an learning: system -> school -> class -> teacher -> learner. But, when we think about innovative learning environments, can we go beyond that framework? Can we go beyond institutional structures? Do we have to assume that institutions are given and are the existing ones? Does non-formal learning has a place in this framework? Can we have a look at the environment, and not at the single school, the single class, the single teacher, etc.?

New dynamics and organisation of learning environments:

  • Who: learners.
  • With whom: teachers.
  • With what: resources.
  • What: content.
  • How: reorganized learning activities and pedagogies.
  • Learning leadership.

This scheme has a result, which is learning, information about learning activities, learners and outcomes, upon which evaluation and assessment can be applied. Learning feedback comes at the end and can be used by the learning leader to restart the whole process.

This learning environment has to be embedded in a wider systemic framework. On the one hand, and at the micro level, it is closely related to the institutional environment. On the other hand, a+dn at the meso level, there are networks of environments and networks of practice. Last, and at the macro level, policy-setting and framing conditions determine the whole system.

The report Connected Minds, from the New Millennium Learners project, compares the competing ‘evangelist’ vs. ‘sceptic’ theses, states that technology and social media are importantly changing social and cultural environment, but there still is no evidence that young people want radically different learning environments. In fact, they want engagement, convenience (any time, anywhere) and enhanced productivity. There is, also, a need for working out the implications of the changing digital world for what schools should do.

How does the future of schooling look like? The OECD schooling scenarios:

  • The bureaucratic system continues, and even gets stronger.
  • Re-schooling I: Schools as focused learning organisations.
  • Re-schooling II: Schools as core social centres.
  • De-schooling I: Radical extension of the market model.
  • De-schooling II: Learning networks and the Network Society.
  • De-schooling III: Teacher exodus and system meltdown.

We need to reflect on what we want education for youth to look like, and see whether we can go beyond a single model (and single stereotype) of school for all aged 3 to 19 y.o. It should be possible to have an intense shared schooling experience, high quality and resourced for 3-13yo (bureaucracy and re-schooling), and diverse experiences, programmes and hybrids for all 14-19 y.o, including basic university (re-schooling and de-schooling).

III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (2012)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “TIES2012 (XI). David Istance: Technology Use and Broader Models of Schooling and Learning — common arguments re-examined” In ICTlogy, #101, February 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3904

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