Friday, 16 December 2011

#unesco_mlw #mLearning thoughts picked up in between sessions

Barbara Reynolds from Unicef
Change is immense, in our lifetimes, before our own eyes, there is so much change going on... the question is not: will we have teachers, but WHO will be our teachers? will it be the technology? Will it be all of us? It may even change every few seconds.
We need to agree on the term of What education is for us: there are two extreme options: is it to keep all of us at the same place, or is education transformative: it will not only change us, but the whole of society.
So what is the goal of education? Anything between these two poles probably. So let us ask: what is knowledge. When we were growing up we needed to learn literature etc. But if we look at the volume of knowledge right now, it is overwhelming. What will ensure good citizenship, what will make sustainable dinners for all of us on the globe. So currently technology is driving us, but is it in the direction we want it to be? It is our task as educators to push the transition towards more humanity.

Sara Vannini (@saraksha): with all the world in crisis, cutting educational budgets, how can we have faith that budgets will be made available for education4all in countries that are struggling with their finances?
Ronda Zelezny-Green (@leadingleo): all the projects seen here are very interesting, but I have yet to see a critical mass of projects that have shaped educators on the ground for education. Not much movement seen to address mLearning acceptance between educators, and even learners. If we do not engage with teachers, we will never reach the volume to get mLearning on a large scale accepted.

STeve Vosloo (@stevevosloo) just arrived at UNESCO five weeks ago and he is in full swing organizing this symposium and getting the word out. He is a critical researcher and all through the day he has been mentioning key factors for learning with mobiles: sustainability is a goal for all mobile projects, but it is not reached everytime. He also stresses that big companies and institutes need to get up to speed with the educational changes and opportunities. Mobile devices are also all about communication.

Shafika Isaacs (@shafikai) mentioned that change is necessary, but that the system itself is only taking small steps towards that change, although technologies and some of the young people are moving a head with great speed. She also mentioned that big institutions, as well as many of the people running it are not aware of the full impact of mobile learning and technologies. It is not simply a small device, it is a connection, a communication
Adele Botha mentioned on many occasions that it is necessary that our minds focus on getting things done, not just talking in an endless circle. Although there is a need to draw up national policies on learning with mobiles,

My thoughts: this symposium was an asset so far. The reason why this symposium had just that bit more than other gatherings was - to me - the human factor. The fact that the importance of changing with humans in mind should be at the centre. If we cannot attain a better world for all of us, then all the efforts for change are futile. But for me, I still am hungry, hungry for action, for getting into it, organizing a course, a curriculum, getting all of us stronger. Mobile learning, and any learning for that matter is about a human capacity to connect. Let's make it work, by doing it. Let us all find what works, in our settings, local context, local solutions, local partners... but always with the bigger human goal in mind: getting more enlightened, increasing quality of life.
Nevertheless I do have some questions: I did not hear a lot about new pedagogical formats (well, this would be the focus today, so it will come, but a quick remark right now): although Paul Kim mentioned that young people are eager for learning, self-directed learning was not mentioned anywhere else (yet). And to me self-directed learning is key in an ever changing world, for surfing the upcoming knowledge waves is the only way to stay on top of what you/I as a learner want to know.
I did get thoughts for the next MobiMOOC though, simply because of the ideas that were not mentioned, yet are in my head. I also feel there is a discrepancy between the focus and innovative approach of many individual actions (by teachers, by young learners, by people with a passion for learning) and the endorsed projects coming from big institutes... I feel there is too little effort to get successful small initiatives promoted and out there for others to see. It is as if individual learning initiatives are part of the learning underground. coming to think if it, that would be a good subtitle for MobiMOOC: the mobile learning underground, connecting with others just like us.