Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning as a Service?

I'd like to explore the usefulness of a 'learning as a service' metaphor in thinking about learning technologies. Technologies are often applied to implement existing conceptions of learning.

Some technologies can disrupt learning and teaching but often underlying assumptions and existing cultures and expectations often remain the same.

Today some learning technologies use 'software as a service' and 'infrastructure as a service' models that distribute technology resources and knowledge in new ways to meet industry and end-user needs.

Can these 'as a service' IT metaphors also challenge and inform our thinking when applied to learning?

Software as a Service (SaaS) has the following characteristics: On demand, customised, distributed, responsive, integrated, collaborative...

In the IT industry the service-oriented principle is about decoupling services from appliances, modularisation, discoverability of services, technology independency, freedom from context...

These characteristics appear to have much in common with contemporary directions in learning: personalised, just-in-time, just-enough, any-where, any-time, any-one, collaborative, responsive, holistic...

Do new service provision possibilities appear if we use a 'learning as a service' metaphor when thinking about using digital technologies for the provision of learning, teaching and assessment services?

Are there different ways of distributing learning resources, learning environments, learning tools, support, facilitation, teaching... that meet learner and system needs?

Does a 'learning as a service' model suggest

  • decoupling learning services from systems, institutions, places, courses and levels
  • providing individuals, homes and communities with direct access to learning services
  • providing individuals free access to just-in-time and just-enough learning bites
  • using open badges to invite discovery of journeys to further learning and skill development
  • default education licensing of teacher and learner learning artefacts and resources through AusGOAL
  • provide learner access to high-end learning services such as virtual labs, 3D printing, immersive environments...
  • gaining revenue through fee-for-service accreditation and learner support
  • provision of an authenticated 'education/learner' online identity
  • campus/home/work place/community learning service portability and increased capacity through BYOLT (Bring Your Own Learning Technologies)

Is the 'learning as a service' metaphor a useful bridge between current trends in IT and education?

Where does the application of this metaphor break down when applied to learning?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Systemness - Working and learning together

Yesterday I think I witnessed something new in my education career.

In the past I've participated in many educational 'launches and lunches': several curriculum reforms, two vocational education reframings, three education restructures, several ICT strategies and numerous learning/teaching/assessment professional learning programs.

In each case these generally involved meeting with leaders, practitioners and researchers in the area in focus.

Yesterday I saw all of the department's senior management meet in one place - Schools, Colleges, LINCs, CFCs, Skills Tasmania, GETI, Learning Services, Curriculum Services, Business Support Services, IT Services, Marketing Services, Legal Services, Policy and Planning, and more... You can do that in a small state.

'Learners First', the new DoE Strategic Plan 2014-2017 was launched by the Premier, the Minister for Education and the Secretary for Education.
But new to me was to hear the invitation to "work and learn together across the whole agency". No new big reform or restructure or framework (apart from a new funding model). Just the notion of a whole department coherently working and learning together - and in partnership with those outside the organisation who can help.

Working together and in partnerships isn't new to the department - there are many great examples as the following opening video demonstrated. But doing this in a coherent, focussed and systemic way using proven collaborative processes is now possible.

Michael Fullan (@MichaelFullan1) led several sessions talking about the success of open and transparent collaborative approaches involving integrated teams focussing on achieving agreed outcomes. He also outlined the success of New Pedagogy and Deep Learning programs in raising achievement in 21st century literacies including literacy and numeracy.

Geoff Masters (@GMastersACER), CEO of ACER spoke about effective partnerships. The Professional Learning Institute launched an extensive range of 2014 professional learning options for the whole agency.

The Secretary spoke about education for Tasmanians and Tasmania - a whole of agency approach that puts learners first.

In addition a whole of agency eStrategy (staff link only) is under development.

Our challenge then, is to coherently work and learn together as a whole agency focused on the 2014-2017 Learners First Strategy.

To me this sounds and feels different from the top down or bottom up reform agenda we have seen in Australia and overseas. Michael Fullan believes that as a system we now have the collective capacity to succeed in the systemic and sustained improvement of whatever we focus on.

He spoke of 'systemness' as the ability to identify with parts of the system beyond one's normal role. My challenge is to think about my participation within and beyond both the Marketing Team and my 'Digital Media and Engagement' role. And for that matter within and beyond the state...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teachers as Entrepreneurs

What educational environments encourage entrepreneurial teachers?

This is the question prompted by Yong Zhao's talk that I attended today.
If you missed it here's a similar presentation at an AITSL event:

Yong spoke at length about the environments that might encourage students as entrepreneurs.
The focus was very much student centred and presented a "new paradigm" for education.

Over the last few years I've encountered good examples in our education system of entrepreneurial teachers operating with students and the wider community within this 'new paradigm' outlined by Yong. (Even though Yong might challenge that assertion.)

I've also noticed however that these teachers often lacked confidence in telling their story, or felt unsupported by colleagues or "the system".

What kind of environments might support teachers as entrepreneurs?
Are they similar to those outlined by Yong Zhao to encourage students as entrepreneurs?

Systemic change involves change and risk at all levels.

How do we connect and support isolated students and teachers and managers and support staff so that entrepreneurialship becomes more recognised and supported?

I've downloaded Zhao's recent publication World Class Learners as an ebook to see what he might have to say about cultivating a future 'new paradigm' that I believe is already here - it's just not widely distributed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Social Semantics

Web 3.0 Conference  #web3conf

Day 1 notes:
  • Web 3.0 (semantic web) - not clearly defined - eg Using machine agents to mine large volumes of data to drive personalisation and engagement...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Creating Elizabeth - for learning...

I find this interesting on many levels...

What if Elizabeth was a teacher, mentor or coach?

What if Elizabeth was a co-learner or collaborator?

How engaging will online learning be without someone like Elizabeth?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Exposing Minecraft Learning

Last Friday I visited a Minecraft Class.

It struck me how difficult it was to comprehend the extent and depth of learning that was taking place even though I was standing there.

The department of education strives to put "learners first, connected and inspired"... I was witnessing much more.

I saw learners as teachers, leading and inspiring others - globally!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Freedom of Lockdown

Lastpass promises to be "the last password you need to remember".

I joined a few years ago but it was only a few weeks ago that I started to use it seriously.
And it's only since then that I've reaped the rewards...
  • yes - far fewer passwords to remember....  and also
  • improved passwords - all now random (and different for every account)
  • faster logins - saving me a great deal of time logging in
  • increased security with two-factor authentication
  • simplicity with multiple identities for my different roles
  • easy access across multiple mobile devices
While this may sound like an advert for Lastpass it really just advertises my naivety in having so many 'clever' passwords that I couldn't really manage. I got a 'Very Poor' security rating across some important services and gateways.

As our organisation moves to make informed use of a wide range of externally provided online services it's important to remember basic security principles to protect identity and information.