Sunday, November 30, 2008

The World School Model of Learning

The World School Model of Learning is the design for a unique and well-planned educational program.  It is a design whose time has come.

Based on ideals of learning for the sake of learning, where, on the global front, everyone is simultaneously a student and a stakeholder, the World School Model promotes and supports lifelong learning for all members of society.  Individuals of all ages are both students and teachers; striving to learn, while seeking solutions to the challenges facing our world.  The design enables project based, constructive learning in all areas.

While the World School Model provides fully equipped high-tech classrooms in which students meet to work together, learning is recognized as a non-stop, fluid endeavor that takes place in all environments, twenty-four hours a day.  Student access to various critical technologies is facilitated through the school's partnership with the business world both locally and abroad.

Movement from ideas and ideals, to the design of our new learning model, took place over time and with the support of numerous technologies.  We enjoyed the application of project based, constructive learning in our own growth during this process, and recognized its value. Therefore, we determined that it was key in the development of the World School Model.
Use of  an assortment of technologies including blogs, wikis, e mail, text messaging, internet links, and skype enabled our ongoing discussion throughout the development of the World School Model; promoting the sharing of ideas with immediacy and relevancy in real time, without negotiating travel and other challenges faced by distance learners.  These are also key components of the World School Model. 
Throughout the development of our new program, however, the most fruitful of our engagements were spent together.  These face to face encounters clarified our values, cemented ideas, and engaged our vision.  The moments spent together built our relationship in ways that no means of technology can be expected to.  This is recognized and expected to be a critical component of the World School program design. 
I am once again amazed and impressed with the adventure this quarter has provided.  I have learned new things and challenged myself to be tested in new technologies.  By endeavoring into these uncharted waters, I have learned more about the world of technology (a positive result, particularly since this class was intended for this purpose!).  I have also stretched and grown by taking the necessary steps with an assortment of technology tools to move forward to complete the assignments.  While I feel that I have learned a great deal, I continue to see that there is more to know.  The difference is that now I have no fear of the unknown of technology... I welcome it.      


Monday, November 17, 2008

Project-Based Learning

This week I was struck by the sudden convergence of the readings we have done, our discussion in class, and the movement toward conceptualizing and determining the future learning environments we are developing in our groups. 

Articles, blogs, and wikis all seemed to be essential and meaningful tools to "get the job done" for weekly assignments this quarter ...but somewhat in isolation.  I realized the importance of each of these components in their own right at various junctures along the way, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to test myself by entering into personally uncharted realms of technological access.  But the links between these tools (and those that they will likely beget) and learning designs and implementations for the future were not explicit in my understanding.
Then, it was as if the clouds parted...

Working with my group, we discussed the four Cs of our learning environment.  As we worked and planned, it became apparent that, woven within the tapestry of the culture, climate, context, and content must be both the cutting edge technology necessary for student success in a global economy of the future, and the element of human exchange and interaction that these tools will enable and elicit. 
In considering the environment for the learning institution we are creating, our group discussed the need to engage students in both their understanding and knowledge, and their investment in their own learning.  (That this is essential may seem obvious; however, the commitment to doing so is often less of a given in the educational community.)  Engagement is an essential component in the process of learning and in caring about learning.
And so engaged, I recognized how my own learning in developing this project and over the course of this quarter has been a process.  That that process is bringing me through stages of wondering how to complete the simplest of tasks in the realm of technology, to doing so; and from reading-related wanderings concerned with how a world of technology would allow for a world of humanity seems to be a great unfolding in itself... In the midst of this revelation I recognize that there is more (much more) to learn.
But the beauty of it is, now I am engaged.  And I am beginning to learn in real time.           

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Age of the Unprecedented

Haven't we always lived in an age of the unprecedented?  With all due respect to Lewis Perelman, it seems that, while virtually everything we know is new, and technologies are morphing at a remarkable pace, this has always been true.  There has always been an evolution of learning and development and change.  The speed of these changes is relative.  Generations throughout time have watched in amazement as technologies have provided more than people ever dreamed possible - first to a select sector, and then to the common individual.  Perhaps the uniqueness of this generation's developments have been that, among the improvements have been vast advancements in global communication, making it possible for all to see (and participate in) the newest developments as they occur.  
Under the premise of the Lifelong Learning article, if such notions of limiting learning to schools and children, and a willingness to settle for mediocrity exist, it is small wonder that the National Education Act of 2015 will have come to pass!  [For such an Act to succeed, with competition among its most important foundational components, the design and function of teachers' unions will necessarily be altered in order for government-run educational enterprises to continue to compete successfully in this new educational marketplace.  While this paper suggests obliteration of the public education system as we know it, one is caused to wonder if this is a realistic possibility - given the influence of local and national teachers' unions.]
While it is certainly true that mediocre models of teaching are tolerated, and that some (many?) are content to relegate learning to institutions and finite time frames, that cannot be the context within which most are comfortable.  If it were, would the thirst for knowledge that has led great minds to pursue the next uncharted territory have been quietly quenched, and would the rest of us be satisfied in following to that realm as a point of completion?

Far from mediocre, the Phoenix Odyssey appears to provide a student-centered concept for lifelong learning.  This program, outlined in a paper written in 1993, must have seemed outside the realm of reality to the reader at that time.  Even now, one questions the possibility of such a program, both generally and with regard to its touted services!  Does this model truly offer the Nordstrom's customer service approach, or will it simply provide a representative that knows your profile?  It claims to "coordinate all your learning needs... skills, knowledge, social, and emotional".  How can this be accomplished?  While the personal hologram guide clearly provides a wonderful tool that makes learning come alive, it is merely a hologram.  It is virtual reality, not really reality; it is a hologram, not a sufficient replacement for social and emotional learning.
The reading was interesting and provocative.  Envisioning learning in the Phoenix Odyssey model provides fascinating possibilities... In conjunction with the project that we are developing, it opens so many doors of potential to consider!  Lifelong learning, complete with holograms and learning facilitators, connection to a global network of resources, and a commitment to client success are among its key marketing ingredients.  Understandably so.
Implications for our group projects are indicative of the delicate balance between embracing technology without losing sight of the human dynamic.  How do we remain visionary while maintaining our humanity?  Can we facilitate forward thinking and positive change, while simultaneously ensuring that the human element is central to the vision?  It is clear that we must.