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Prescience, Collapse and Reflective Conversations
This newspaper is concerned to present some conversations about learning which promote the generic idea of being Agile in the face of new constraints. The origins for these re- flections lie within David Jennings’s and Seb Schmoller’s earlier discussions about the impact of austerity on learning provision, whilst, back in 2006, Dougald Hine and Paul Miller were wondering what might become useful after a major global economic crisis.
From these concerns firstly the School of Everything emerged and then School of Everything Unplugged allowed the following conversations to occur.
Some of the original thoughts, rooted in creating new ways of using technology, were that lightweight tools might enable an agile approach to learning to emerge; an iterative learning process linking learners to their goals dynamically. Agile might also allow a scaling-down of learning to match the human experience rather than the scaling up of institutions attempting to engage with financial opportunities that globalisation seemed to offer.
Small Pieces Loosely Joined
Dick Moore takes his understanding of the Agile Learning process from the Agile Manifesto (2001) focussing on the notion of ‘the ability to change specific learning goals as issues arise.’ However whilst he values agile as a contextualising process based on what he calls ‘agile core skills’ and iterative learning, he is cautious about whether agile actually brings about deep learning.
David Jennings takes this view of agile core skills deeper by looking at how we might change the relationship with the authority of the teacher, offering a vision of learners contracting in to learning, using the basket of techniques that Agile might offer to self-organise their learning.
Agile seems to offer a small pieces loosely joined approach, exemplified by David Gauntlett, who is a serious advocate of the convivial use of LEGO as part of his ‘making is connecting’ work. David is concerned to create a social process of learning that promotes active engagement with the environment and he uses tools to enable collaborative learning to occur. He also sees consequences beyond the classroom, by engaging with Transition Towns for example.
Fred Garnett focuses on how that ability to craft learning collaboratively requires a set of brokering skills in teachers, which are not commonly part of their professional skillset. He sees this as part of their responsibility to enable learners to generate their own contexts for learning.
School? That’s a wierd idea!
Tony Hall however doesn’t see teaching as a craft he sees craft as learning. Tony is interested in how you enable learning in extra-institutional contexts through conversations around people’s interests. As Tony is a photographer he works with people’s photos, he is interested in the person who takes the photo and the image is a way into conversations about their reality. Ivan Illich’s De-schooling Society ideas are another thread running through these Agile conversations, reaching an apotheosis with home-schoolers Annie and Guy who don’t distinguish between learning and not-learning. They see that learning is always improvised around interests as they occur at any time of day; so much so that Annie now thinks that it is school that seem like a weird idea. Whereas Ollie has applied social networking tools to project and knowledge management within organisations to try and enable organisational learning, especially peer-to-peer learning as part of using their Noddle Pod project. Ollie is applying emergent learning techniques to institutions as she doesn’t believe you can ‘develop’ employees, they need to understand their needs and drive their own learning.
Agile; The Basket Case for Learning
So Agile Learning might best be seen a basket of techniques, tools, attitudes and processes, mentioned in passing here, which, used responsibly and sensitively, might enable better self-organisation of learning. Agile offers a de-construction of education into its miscellaneous parts which allows the possibility that learners can re-aggregate the relevant small pieces to meet their self-identified learning goals or interests. At a time of social and economic collapse Agile offers fresh ways of thinking about learning that might enable new socially-useful modes of learning to emerge.
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