Tuesday, 24 June 2014

#free report on learner at the center of a #networked world

The US based Aspen Institute, together with the MacArthur Foundation just released on useful report entitled The learner at the center of a networked world. The 115 p. report offers insight in the strategies that are put forward by an intelligent task force of experts in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning (experts from Google, UN, public libraries, national council of education, Microsoft, School districts, creative commons, Voto Latino, to name a few). The focus on open learning environments to benefit all is also a nice motivation to read. Bring Your Own Technology, digital literacy, connected learning, educators as guides supporting the student... all of the keywords of late are mentioned and put into a nice, useful overall framework.

The report focuses on young students, but also puts forward pointers on getting the complete family and communities to which those families belong involved, raising their knowledge and digital skills as well. I like this more holistic approach, as education and specifically learning and knowing how to acquire new knowledge is increasingly important.
The report is an easy read, and offers practical strategies and visions for implementing a more learner centered set up for both schools, as well as external (non school related) approaches.

The report starts with indicating that US youngsters have an increased literacy gap, concretely with Hispanic and
African American fourth graders being two and a half years behind white students. For this reason the task group has experts who understand the difficulties faced by these groups, and who have successfully tackled some of the challenges faced by those student groups.

The five core strategies are:

Learners need to be at the center of new 
learning networks.
We first make recommendations for actions that will truly put learners at the center of the networks that can enhance and accelerate their learning. Parents and teachers need support to help them integrate new methods of learning into and outside the classroom. Community organizations, including libraries, museums and other civic and cultural institutions must become full-fledged participants in learning networks.

Every student should have access to learning networks.
We recommend steps that are needed to ensure equity of access so that all young people can pursue their learning goals. This includes every student having adequate connectivity—including reliable broadband connections—as well as access to the hardware, applications, digital age literacy and high-quality content necessary to support their learning.

Learning networks need to be interoperable. 
We believe that learning networks need to be maximally interoperable to ensure that valuable educational resources are not isolated in separate silos and that innovations can be shared across networks. Interoperability is also important to allow students to move freely across networks to assemble their learning objectives and to receive credit for all learning accomplishments, wherever they occur

Learners should have the literacies necessary to utilize media as well as safeguard themselves in the digital age.
We also believe that all learners and educators need a sufficient degree of digital age literacy, where media, digital and emotional literacies are present,  to be able to use these learning resources to learn through multiple media confidently, effectively and safely. Every student must have a chance to learn these vital skills.

Students should have safe and trusted environments for learning. 
We focus on steps needed to create a trusted environment that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn. Parents should be able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress. We argue for a shift from a negative, fear-based approach that attempts to insulate children from all harm (and may also create barriers to valuable resources) to a positive approach that will enable students to pursue learning experiences online without fearing for their safety or privacy.

The report additionally offers links to great projects and innovations.