Monday, November 8, 2010

The future of learning institutions in a digital age

While we broadly speak about the ways in which learning has changed as a result of new technologies, a recent (2009) publication, part of the MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media Learning, elucidates this topic. In The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (available for free on the MIT Press Website), authors Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg give us a sneak-peak to an upcoming book on the future of learning institutions and provide us with 10 principles by which to think of the future of learning.


The premise of this paper is that learning institutions have changed far slower than the technologies that have transformed how we learn and interact with information. Phenomena such as participatory learning and remix authorship have completely changed the ways in which people learn online.


Generally speaking, new ways of learning are collective and egalitarian. Innovative virtual learning institutions that take advantage of these tools (for instance, Wikipedia) are already many in number. Unless universities and other traditional learning institutions recognize this new way of learning and adapt, they risk becoming obsolete. In addition, these new ways of learning have practically no walls: learning can take place anywhere, anytime, and with greater ease than before.

Also noted in this paper are what the authors call the Pillars of Instructional Pedagogy: 10 Principles for the Future of Learning:

  1. Self-Learning
  2. Horizontal Structures
  3. From Presumed Authority to Collective Credibility
  4. A De-Centered Pedagogy
  5. Networked Learning
  6. Open Source Education
  7. Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity
  8. Lifelong Learning
  9. Learning Institutions as Mobilizing Networks
  10. Flexible Scalability and Simulation

While these new ways of learning are certainly true in the United States and other OECD countries, how do shifts in learning paradigms relate to Latin America? To date, very little is written about topics like participatory learning and remix authorship in Latin America. To those who confess to following the travels of Henry Jenkins this summer, some interesting posts have gone up. But certain questions are unavoidable, like how do we maintain a sense of cultural identity while participating in a global, online culture? Any thoughts or resources on the future of learning institutions and changes in the way people learn, specifically in Latin America and the Caribbean, are more than welcome.

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