Monday, May 23, 2016

Schooling or learning?

What is the perception we have about education? Is it something that we actively engage in? Or something the educational systems do to us?

The difference between these two perceptions is huge. When people believe that education is a life-long learning journey, they are more likely to feel ownership over their learning -and their kids' learning-  and be empowered to search and find tools that help in learning. This type of learning happens everywhere, inside and outside of classroom and fosters students' curiosity. Learning is very subjective and learners are seen as agents of their own life and learning. Successful learning means creating transferable and applicable knowledge that is personally meaningful.

However, when learning is attributed to an external entity like school, it is more likely to think that a learning professional is needed to provide the "correct" learning materials or resources. Learning is done at school and for school, there is less personal investment in learning activities. Learning is very objective, there is a correct answer to questions, and the teacher can help you to find that answer. Successful learning means passing the tests or getting good grades.

I believe the current educational systems should foster the subjective life-long learning, because learning cannot end in graduation in the 21st century societies, where information and misinformation are available for everyone with few clicks on a computer.

The research report below about Low income families being less likely to use online learning tools prompted me to blog about this important issue. My first thoughts were how shared devices and mobile/internet access must be a contributing factor for not using online tools, but then I was also thinking about the ownership and empowerment we have about our own learning. I am working on my dissertation about learner agency and think that all too often we forget to emphasize the learning ownership.

One question to ask while creating the online tools is: does this app or resource empower students to learn for life or is it designed to help a student to pass a test?

Is it built for learning or for schooling?