Thursday 19 December 2013

Learning wrap up, last post of Gregorian Calendar 2013

As the year closes and the nights become increasingly long in this Northern part of the world, looking back and reflecting seems the right thing to provide closure to the past 350 days. The darkest days produce darker thoughts.

MOOC have become mainstream, but they did not change education. They only changed business reflections at the centre of big universities. And where MOOC have been said to help those never having been able to learn before ... the latest MOOC's are set up for institutional glory, attracting new professionals, and delivering old school formats on many occasions: one person in a video, the public listens or is given the option to discuss what is provided. Producing content as a learner based upon personal knowledge needs is less frequently expected as a course outcome. The importance of online learning did grow, which is a good think from my perspective.

Another trend that kept going were the TED conferences. Again hailed as a new interesting learning option, it seems to have become nothing more than an long list of info-documentaries replacing televised National Geographic with pre-organized, strict format offerings of one person standing in front of a public. Nothing new here, please move on.

Social media 2013
With selfies being shared and produced at an ever increasing rate, social media is now fully absorbed in marketing. Although social media started as an interactive learning resource with potential, its popularity has shifted it right back into the overall societal system. Once hailed for its journalistic and societal strengthening options, and even delivering a Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman for tweeting during the Arab Spring in Yemen, social media is now much more about followers than innovative ideas.

Education budget cuts
Although online learning is high on the agenda, education overall is not. In many countries and on a variety of levels  education faces severe budget costs (hitting teachers in Europe, special education in the USA, institutional education in UK, and educational research also being brought to the slaughter house). To me education symbolizes the importance of humans, cutting budgets for education (or any human sector) shows where society is going: towards segregation and elitism. Education is an investment, granted the return takes a couple of decades to emerge, but it does come.

Mobile learning will become seamless
With mobile devices popping up everywhere, it is no longer the device which makes the difference, but the seamless learning experience that makes a difference. Tech shifts from the objects to the overall experience. Nice trend there, but tough to realize, although we only have to look at Star Trek to realize what is to come.

Technology will never save humans, nor will it save education. A pity for people like me who see human Utopia in every new, non-destructive technology. I should change that inclination... but I cannot. I blame Star Trek... or should I say I thank StarTrek for predicting the future since 1966?

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