12 January 2011
I was listening to a podcast given by Diana Louthenberg, a teacher in the USA. She started with the reminder that schools and colleges are no longer a place where knowledge resides and where students need to go in order to get it from the teachers. She then went on to argue that we need to teach students that they come to college in order to deal with getting things wrong. She continued on the lines that there is no universal truth, there is no one way to understand anything, there is no common experience and we can no longer think about standardising student presentation of learning, so wrong in the sense of what we make of the world is redundant as an idea. The use of portfolios is an attempt to individualise learning by allowing the capture of accidental and contextualised learning to influence what is learnt more formally. By getting things wrong what she meant was that learners need to be able to present their own experience and understanding and teachers need to help them do this in a way that is authentic to the learner. In other words we can no longer say there isa right way of presenting experiential learning. Perhaps getting things wrong is the way we can all learn and getting things right is simply the outcome of experience. To be fair the awarding bodies don't tell us that we can only teach in a particular way although the use of guided learning hours still suggests that the classroom is the only space where teaching can take place and is the sole factor in ensuring quality learning.
Yesterday at the 'learning without frontiers' conference, Lord Puttnam stated something that those working in or in e-learning have known for some time; that simply using technology to enhance orthodox teaching and learning will never be transformational and we have to use the new technology to change the way we go about teaching and learning. Innovation is doing new things in new ways and colleges that rise to that challenge will survive and prosper.
Laufenberg is part of the TED podcast series available from itunes.
Proceedings from 'Learning without frontiers' is not yet published.