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It is my own messy chaos: New understandings of learning spaces and connecting in a post-digital world

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It is my own messy chaos: New understandings of learning spaces and connecting in a post-digital world

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A keynote at the elearning 2.0 conference at Brunel University, Wednesday 23rd July 2014 by Peter Bryant, Head of Learning Technology and Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK#
For the full blog post, please link to; http://peterbryant.smegradio.com/?p=432

A keynote at the elearning 2.0 conference at Brunel University, Wednesday 23rd July 2014 by Peter Bryant, Head of Learning Technology and Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK#
For the full blog post, please link to; http://peterbryant.smegradio.com/?p=432

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It is my own messy chaos: New understandings of learning spaces and connecting in a post-digital world

  1. 1. It is my own messy chaos New understandings of learning spaces and connecting in a post-digital world Peter Bryant Head of Learning Technology and Innovation London School of Economics and Political Science @peterbryantHEhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/6113246562/
  2. 2. “…an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” Davis and Sumara (2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/quasimondo/98427151
  3. 3. ‘Students come from a variety of departments and offices. In many cases their knowledge of railway work is confined strictly to the limits of work done in their own departments, and often to only a small section of such work. Of the rest of the work of the railway they are supremely ignorant.‘ Memorandum by Mr Stephenson to the Advisory Committee on Railway Subjects, 13th February 1911
  4. 4. Higher education has reached a tipping point… https://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/
  5. 5. ‘I am going to blow the whole thing to kingdom come’ https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanburke/2854366734/
  6. 6. Modern pedagogy is often… SEQUENTIAL SCAFFOLDED ALIGNED STRUCTURED https://www.flickr.com/photos/verylastexcitingmoment/3980490179
  7. 7. LIFE WORK PLAY LOVE ETC. rarely are
  8. 8. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/14632795
  9. 9. http://www.flickriver.com/photos/pagedooley/8727693005/
  10. 10. chaos ˈkeɪɒs/ noun complete disorder and confusion. the property of a complex system whose behaviour is so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions. messy ˈmɛsi/ adjective untidy or dirty. (of a situation) confused and difficult to deal with. https://www.flickr.com/photos/teachernz/3317607055
  11. 11. 1. Institutional resistance to change (potential) 2. Pedagogy for the 20th (19th?) century 3. Critical shifts in the way information is acquired and applied 4. Student resistance to our use of technology 5. Preparing for jobs that don’t exist For institutions…
  12. 12. For learners 1. Learners arriving at university are already e-learners 2. 21st century skills for a technology driven society 3. There is no real and online world…there is just the world 4. Technology is not a class or category. It is a means, a society changing and generation shaping means 5. Not all students are experts in all technologies 6. Student adoption moves faster than institutional adaptation https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/14089406581/
  13. 13. ‘Tasks that were previously the domain of faculty are now under the control of learners: searching for information, creating spaces of interaction, forming learning networks, and so on. Through blogs, wikis, online video, podcasts and open educational resources, learners are able to access content from leading lecturers and researchers around the world. Through the use of social media, learners are able to engage and interact with each other (and in some cases, directly with researchers and faculty).’ Siemens and Weller 2011 https://www.flickr.com/photos/spookman01/6790694167/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/spookman01/6790608295
  14. 14. S P A C E
  15. 15. John Seely Brown said in 2001… ‘The traditional university boundaries are blurring, not just because technology is making it possible, but also as a result of the burgeoning demand for education beyond campus and the undergraduate years. Technology can help higher education meet this demand by reshaping the university and extending its reach across time and space.’
  16. 16. This requires a redefinition of what we call a learning space
  17. 17. A learning space is more than a function and construction of it’s physicality https://www.flickr.com/photos/european_parliament/8097006295
  18. 18. https://www.flickr.com/photos/adafruit/832894421
  19. 19. In most cases student learning spaces are outside of the academic or the academy. In fact, if they are owned or setup by the university, they are often turned into ghost towns as learners own their spaces and keep them private
  20. 20. These new learning spaces create a much greater opportunity for chance meetings, discursive dialogues, interrogating and testing of ideas and thoughts, questions being answered and new questions being formed https://www.flickr.com/photos/silverfuture/4671056898
  21. 21. And yes, this IS A THING By 2015, Gen Y income will exceed that of Baby Boomers. By 2020, their income is projected to exceed that of both Baby Boomers and Gen X. (Javelin Strategy and Research) By 2020 there will be more Gen Y’ers than Baby Boomers (Australia 2020) 83 percent say that they sleep with their smartphones (Nielson Research) https://www.flickr.com/photos/brennanmoore/244585375 7
  22. 22. https://www.flickr.com/photos/janpersiel/9873781113
  23. 23. https://www.flickr.com/photos/janpersiel/9873781113
  24. 24. March (1999) cited in Dodgson et al (2013)…. ‘Society, he contends, needs processes that induce and sustain the craziness of wild ideas (March 1999, p. 226), and the technology of reason and rationality that contributes so much to organizational performance needs to be complemented by a technology of foolishness that “escape[s] the logic of our reason”’ https://www.flickr.com/photos/enthuan/8601665997
  25. 25. PERSONAL MESSY INTIMATE CONTRARY MINE DARK FUN PLAYFUL https://www.flickr.com/photos/21560098@N06/6723411369
  26. 26. There is no right answer https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/10248755515
  27. 27. 1. In what ways do we understand the changes in learners and learning in the digital age? 2. How do we understand, engage and support the spaces in which new learners learn, physical or virtual? 3. How does our learning, teaching and assessment practice need to change to get the best out of these new spaces? 4. What is making us frightened, resistant and ‘control freaky’ about this change? https://www.flickr.com/photos/scr47chy/148867629
  28. 28. Thank you! p.j.bryant@lse.ac.uk http://www.peterbryant.org @peterbryanthe

Editor's Notes

  • This is a an argument for thinking about teaching and learning in a post digital world
    Learners are not learning to be digital – they are digital, and through virtue of size, scale and sheer accessibility these worlds are messy, chaotic and sometimes dark
  • Higher education no longer prepares peoples for a life that is known
    It prepares learners for uncertainty and change, chaos that leads to innovation, and innovations that lead to chaos
    The history of the LSE
  • The Drowned Man
  • What happens though when the information we get is discontinuous or chaotic? When we find the end first and the beginning somewhere later down the line? Story lines criss-cross each other so that narratives and concepts blend and you are not sure whether you are watching something coming or going. You see, consume or miss small fragments of knowledge, like shards of glass shattered across the floor. You might only brush past bits of content, and in another turn of your head see all of a fragment, fully exposed to the world.
  • Life is sequential to some extent. But the experiences of life not always are. We don’t watch people life their lives in order, we see bits and fragments, we hear stories told from different perspectives and we find out own way through the narrative. Work is often an aggregation of different people working on different parts of a project, with the left hand not always knowing what the right hand is doing. We survive, we flourish, we innovate and we create in the spaces between, where the tenuous threads are fleshed out by problem solving, imagination, experimentation and risk taking in an environment of unpredictability and rapid change. And to be honest, it is these things that modern HE seems to struggle a lot with.
  • Traditional pedagogies, teaching and learning practices and learning spaces are struggling to cope with the current and future generations of learners
    These struggles are at least fuelling the debate about the relevance of modern higher education
  • Space is a strange, quixotic thing. It is a construct of things both solid and ephemeral. When we as academics talk about learning spaces, we more often than not focus on what is contained within the four walls of a physical room,
  • or even worse revert to a construct that is effectively hundreds of years old
    We can argue that furniture can encourage collaboration.
    The technology in the form of screens, projectors, hubs and plugs will encourage people to use technology in new ways to enhance learning.
    Wi-Fi networks, flexible and high capacity will be the new wired network, bringing the outside in and what happens inside out.
    These are expensive decisions, costing institutions hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of pounds and not insignificant staff time.
    However, there is nothing to say that these rooms will change the way people teach.
    The learning space does not of its own accord change pedagogy.
    The most innovative use of furniture and technology will still result in a teacher moving it all to rows if that is the way they want to teach.



  • I strongly believe there is an urgent need to engage a wide ranging and probably quite painful and divisive debate about the efficacy and relevance of our pedagogical approaches in the digital world.
    The epoch-inching micro-impacts of MOOCs were not about doing something new, just something a little less shit for a bigger, less engaged audience. However, I don’t believe that these chaotic and discontinuous learning moments cannot occur in an online learning space.
    The physicality makes marginal difference, because the learning is occurring in spaces in and between interactions with other people and knowledge. This means that institutions need to think about new definitions and understandings for learning spaces.
  • What is needed in the modern university is a redefinition of what constitutes a learning space.
    A learning space is more than a function and construction of its physicality.
    And I am not talking necessarily about a VLE here either, they are just as much bound by their construction as a classroom or lecture theatre.
    Online learning offers the definition of learning spaces a number of new dimensions. However it takes a recognition that learning and learners have changed, and that perhaps the way we were taught may have changed over time.
    The new learning spaces exist inside and outside the academy
  • They provide an environment where learners can engage with faculty and then link with connected others and sources of information, contrary and advocating those coming from the curriculum.
    These learning spaces are being formed now, because of the needs of the learners to interact, share, vent, collaborate, understand and vindicate.
    They happen in cafeterias, Facebook pages, IM groups, happy pics in Snapchat and in text conversations.
    They don’t need flip top desks, they need Wi-Fi and devices, and most importantly they need platforms to connect and a reason to do so
  • And in most cases they are outside of the academic or the academy.
    In fact, if they are owned or setup by the university, they are often turned into ghost towns.
    The learners own these new learning spaces, quite happy in the knowledge that they are the product for these sites and platforms.
    But they are in control of who accesses it, who sees it and whom they share it with.
    They choose what gets put on the walls and whether everyone can see it or just their closest friends.
    They choose if it is a site of rebellion, of collegiality, of relationships or of creativity
  • These new learning spaces create a much greater opportunity for chance meetings, discursive dialogues, interrogating and testing of ideas and thoughts, questions being answered and new questions being formed.
    This is the way learning spaces have changed.
    Ways of learning and knowledge acquisition have changed.
    Learning spaces are an evolving and fluid concept, not well represented by the fixed capital investment made by institutions.
  • The technologies our potential learners are using today are often in advance of those being ‘trialled’ at institutions.
    Facebook usage has been in decline for the last 18 months or so as young people move to more private and controllable networks like Snapchat and Whatsapp.
    There is little chance of their parents finding out stuff, or it getting into the ether for all to see, especially with something like Snapchat that self-destructs content in seconds.
    Yet many institutions are talking about Facebook as an innovative potential place for learning (or at least knowledge transfer) to occur.
    Learning spaces have to be more agile than institutions currently have the infrastructure or capacity to be.
    Successful entrepreneurs innovate through understanding what is happening, what might happen, engage with it and then respond.
  • It is already inherent in most of our learning designs that students are expected to undertake independent study, which represents nearly 90% of the hours they spend on courses. What do we think they do? Be like us in our learning heyday? Head buried in books, at a desk in the library or in our residence?
    Guess what? They are studying together in groups, they are talking to each other, they are asking other people what they think, they are complaining and griping about how hard this and how much reading they have to do and then they are swapping pictures of their desk, their opinion on the latest Arcade Fire record or sending sad faces on Whatsapp because they are exhausted.

    And its what we all did. It just happens online as well as face-to-face now and learning is happening in those spaces.
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