2013 01-22--social learning-centers


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This proposed presentation was prepared for delivery at the New Media Consortium Future of Education summit held near Austin, TX January 22-24, 2013. It's based on work I've done with my colleagues Maurice Coleman, Buffy Hamilton, and Jill Hurst-Wahl, and is part of our continuing efforts to support the development of social learning centers onsite and online for libraries and other learning organizations.

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  • Those of us who grew up completely immersed in an education model of teachers inspiring learners through lectures and assignments are finding plenty to shake our world in very positive ways. This photograph of a dynamic learning space—the YOUmedia center in the Chicago Public Library—offers a fairly progressive version of how shifts from a completely teacher-centric model to one that nudges us toward a more learner-centric model just scratches the surface of what we’re seeing. And for the group I’m with today—all of you here at the 2013 New Media Consortium Horizon Project Future of Education Summit—one of the many interesting things we’ll quickly see is that if we start focusing on the development of social learning centers as part of a lifelong learning model, we see a way to integrate many of the individual tech tools and trends we’ve all been exploring together.
  • Let’s start with some extremes and then work our way toward a meaningful middle path. In the worst of all scenarios—and I know we’ve all at one time or another been there—we’ve been completely intellectually immobilized by the droning lecture-hall experience that creates the impact we’re seeing here.
  • In the most delightful of informal learning situations, we see peers learning from each other, taking responsibility for their actions, and needing little more than a place to meet and a willingness to develop and nurture their own personal learning environments.
  • Social learning, as you’ve probably realized, is actually not a new concept, although it’s receiving a lot more attention these days than it previously did in education and training programs—even the language (training vs. learning) suggests that something interesting is happening in the way we view what we do. When we talk about social learning, we’re simply talking about people learning in groups, and from each other. While I believe this has always been part of the process in teacher/instructor-centric learning, I also think that the social media tools we have and our changing attitudes toward education overall are creating a very exciting and dynamic opportunity for us.
  • Colleagues and I who began promoting the idea of social learning centers a couple of years ago were very much inspired by the work of Ray Oldenburg, whose The Great Good Place explored what he called our three key places: Home Work The social gathering places where we run into friends and colleagues from all walks of life and, through the magic of unplanned conversation, explore a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas are ephemeral, some provoke thought, and the best of them provoke action. Listening to a Rutgers University student talk about how he loved libraries for the way they facilitated learning made us think that perhaps it was time to revisit those three Oldenburgian places and see if there was a need for a new hybrid place, or even a new Fourth Place—one where people didn’t just stop in for socializing. What we began envisioning was a social gathering place built around a desire for learning.
  • For me, there was another piece to the puzzle: the gathering place that Frans Johansson, in The Medici Effect , referred to as “The Intersection.” Johansson writes, at the beginning of The Medici Effect , about a place in Horta (in the Azores islands)—Peter’s café—where sailors from around the world meet, talk, and learn from each other before parting ways and informally disseminating ideas throughout their much larger and diverse communities. That gathering place is his Intersection, and the socializing that occurs there leads to learning, innovation, and change. If Peter’s café sounds a bit familiar, then you’re already making the connection I did and seeing that combining Oldenburg’s Third Place—his Great Good Place—with Johansson’s Intersection provides a model that can be very broadly designed and adapted to a variety of needs and settings.
  • So with that brief background describing how the shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric learning combines with the increasing attention we’re giving to our latest jargon—”social learning”—let’s look at some of the technologies we’ve been exploring through the Horizon Project and see how social learning centers might pull much of this together into a dynamic and cohesive vision the builds upon what has always been great in learning.
  • We have, over the past couple of years, seen tablets as a near-Horizon technology. If we step back a bit and place the use of tablets into another movement we’re observing—the Bring Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Technology movement—we see that a social learning space doesn’t have to be the sort of elaborate setting that the Chicago Public Library created in its YOUmedia Center. We can take existing spaces that support the use of technology through wireless routers and3G/4G connections. This, of course, means that we can combine a variety of resources in flexible settings that evolve to meet whatever learning meet we are attempting to respond to at the learner’s moment of need. Doesn’t matter whether we’re in an empty classroom or a conference room. We could be within a space within our university, college, high school, or public library. We can be in a workplace conference room or in a more elaborate corporate smart classroom. We could even, as a colleague has suggested, be working in a refurbished shipping container placed in a previously unused space. The point is that we are gaining more and more flexibility in terms of creating social learning spaces that respond to learners’ needs, and we certainly are nowhere near the end of what technology may provide.
  • The Flipped Classroom model we explored a couple of months ago—the idea that classroom time becomes a time of interactions and application of what is being learned while some foundational learning that previously was at the heart of classroom time is accomplished online or through other means—suggests that what happens in classrooms could further be nurtured in informal settings that are provide additional variations on the Flipped Classroom theme.
  • Gamed-based learning has certainly not been anywhere other than at the center of much of what we’ve been exploring. One of the most dynamic and extensive versions I’ve seen is the World Simulation Project from Michael Wesch at Kansas State University. Wesch and his students spend an entire semester using their class time to create this live, interactive simulation that completely engages them by having them put what they are learning into action. And although our concept of social learning centers doesn’t have to be this extensive, it shouldn’t be hard for any of us to picture how social learning centers outside of regular classroom settings can augment what is happening in those classroom or provide opportunities for curious learners to further explore what the classroom experience provides.
  • Massively Open Online Courses—which some of us have been seeing as a threat to our current academic models—might actually benefit from connections to social learning centers. If participants in these courses could gather in social learning centers, they might find valuable opportunities to combine what they’ve gained from the courses with the Flipped Classroom model of a social learning center. And if we go all the way with this, it could be that the Massively Open Online Courses draw learners into on-campus social learning centers that, in turn, serve as a way of attracting learners into on-campus courses. We could be looking at a model that actually enhances the attractiveness of onsite learning by seeing all of these elements as interconnected parts of lifelong learning rather than seeing them as competitors to be feared and opposed.
  • In fact, when we start to wrap our minds around how many of the technologies we are tracking could contribute to the success of social learning centers as a vital part of learning on campuses and beyond, we see quite a few options, including crowdsourcing, social media, next generation batteries, personal learning environments, social media, telepresence, and wireless power. And at the heart of all of it is…the learner. Let’s take a quick look at how some of our existing learning spaces already fit the social learning center model.
  • We treasure and nurture our students in a variety of ways and through a variety of programs, as we’re reminded by this photo from the Lafayette (CA) Library.
  • And we provide a variety of resources, as we see in this second photo from the Lafayette (CA) Library.
  • Our universities incorporate serious tools that are used in playful ways by students, including those in the Weigle Information Commons at the University of Pennsylvania—if you want to see what they produce, check out the video they created to promote this fabulous resource: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z4Z717yD08
  • Those who can afford it create spaces that combine comfort with technology, books with technology, and keep people—students and staff—at the center of the process, as we see in this shot from Sinclair Community College, in Dayton, Ohio.
  • We are creatively informal, as we’ve seen from a variety of tech petting zoos and this lunch-time hands-on workshop documented on the New Jersey State Library Flickr page: “ The NJ State Library hosted a lunch-time hands-on workshop for people wanting to learn more about how to work their new gadgets or to find out which gadget would be best for them. “ The event showcased mobile tablets and e-readers: Apple IPADs, the Amazon Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy and Barnes and Noble Nook. Librarians demonstrated features and qualities, including painting on the IPAD, how to download ebooks, and compared displays and sound quality. Some people brought their own machines and had questions answered. “ Comments like ‘We’re so glad you did this’ and ‘This is great!’ were heard many times.”
  • And as m-learning—Mobile Learning—continues to augment what we’re doing face to face and online in synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, we’re also on the move in this partner to our traditional bookmobiles. It’s only a matter of time before we really become clever, embrace what we’re so clearly already doing, and match our marketing skills with our information skills to develop terms like “trainingmobiles” or “learningmobiles” or…well, you get the point.
  • If you’re getting the idea that I see libraries as one big part of this, you’re right on target; they’re our natural allies in this endeavors, and there’s no reason why museums—on or off campus—shouldn’t also be recognized as natural partners in an effort to connection social learning and social learning centers to the broader educational undertaking that brings all of us together.
  • The beauty of this is that it really does carry us into a future we’re already very much involved in creating. We can think beyond our physical (onsite) spaces and acknowledge that a huge part of our audience these days works with us online, so we’re well positioned to jump onto the blended learning bandwagon—learning that seamlessly combines onsite and online learning opportunities and carries it right back into the term we’ve always used: learning!
  • Buffy Hamilton, who described herself as “a high school librarian and teacher at The Unquiet Library in Canton, Georgia, with  twenty years of experience as an educator as a high school English teacher, technology integration specialist, and librarian” before recently moving on to the Cleveland Public Library, had created a bona fide Library as Fourth Place long before the rest of us were talking about it. Drawing students into a state of the art school library and connecting them with education resources via Skype and other tech tools, Hamilton is another of those people I would follow anywhere to see what she’s going to do next to promote stunningly engaging educational opportunities for those she serves.
  • And if we go all the way with this idea as Buffy and others have, we confirm that social learning spaces can exist simultaneously onsite and online, through the use of Skype, a variety of live typed chat tools, Twitter, and Google+ Hangouts. NMC’s Samantha Adams Becker and I used Google+ Hangouts twice last year to create temporary social media centers to help staff training professionals learn about technology in training, with the 2012 Horizon Project Higher Ed report as the centerpiece. Jill Hurst-Wahl from Syracuse University, Maurice Coleman from Harford County Public Library (Maryland), and I were somewhat successful in creating a temporary social learning space with Skype more than a year ago; Jill, Buffy, and I conducted a similarly successful experiment, at an American Library Association conference, by having people onsite interact with others via Twitter. Maurice and I carried this a huge step forward in September 2012 when we had a group of library directors in Virginia learning about social learning centers by creating one on the spot and interacting not only with each other face to face and via their own mobile devices throughout the room, but also with colleagues online through a live Twitter feed using TweetChat. A social learning center can just as easily be completely virtual, as we see from a variety of weekly Twitter learning groups including #lrnchat.
  • So let’s do a quick visual summary of where we’ve been and where we might be going: We started with Chicago’s YOUmedia as an existing model of what could easily be called a social learning center, and later saw Buffy Hamilton’s Unquiet Library as another.
  • We hit on the shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric learning.
  • We explored the roots of this social learning center concept by looking at Ray Oldenburg’s and Frans Johansson’s work.
  • We saw how some of the Horizon technologies and trends we’ve been exploring really come together into a cohesive unit when wrapped into the idea of social learning centers as part of our overall lifelong learning environment.
  • And we then starting knocking down the walls by exploring how we can blend onsite and online learners through tools like Skype and Google+ Hangouts.
  • At the end of all this, we’re left with one stunning accomplishment: the idea that our work on the Horizon Project plunges us into a seemingly disparate set of technologies and trends—including the idea that “complexity is the new reality”—and gives us an opportunity to pulls those puzzle pieces into a very attractive tapestry.
  • A few books that help us see how current explorations of social learning can lead to wonderful results…
  • 2013 01-22--social learning-centers

    1. 1. Social Learning Centers:A New Horizon for LearningPaul SignorelliWriter/Trainer/ConsultantPaul Signorelli &Associatespaul@paulsignorelli.com@paulsignorelliA Proposal for the2013 NMC HorizonProject SummitThe Future ofEducationJanuary 22-24, 2013
    2. 2. Learning:Teacher- or Learner-Centric?
    3. 3. Learning:Teacher- or Learner-Centric?
    4. 4. Social Learning
    5. 5. “Place” and Social Learning:Ray Oldenburg & the Third Place
    6. 6. Place and Interaction:Frans Johansson & The Intersection
    7. 7. Where the Horizon Project Fits In
    8. 8. Horizon Technology: Tablets
    9. 9. Horizon Technology: Flipped Classroom
    10. 10. Horizon Technology: Game-Based Learning
    11. 11. Horizon Technology: MOOCs
    12. 12. Horizon Technology: More…
    13. 13. From Homework…
    14. 14. And Tech and Teens…
    15. 15. To the Commons
    16. 16. Contemporary
    17. 17. FromMobiles…
    18. 18. To Mobile
    19. 19. The Future W Are Building e
    20. 20. Lifting the Ceiling, Removing the Walls
    21. 21. Buffy Hamilton:A High School Social Learning Center
    22. 22. Blended Social Learning Spaces
    23. 23. In Summary
    24. 24. In Summary
    25. 25. In Summary
    26. 26. In Summary
    27. 27. In Summary
    28. 28. In Summary
    29. 29. Learning Resources:
    30. 30. Questions & Comments
    31. 31. For More Information Paul Signorelli & Associates 1032 Irving St., #514 San Francisco, CA 94122 415.681.5224 paul@paulsignorelli.com http://paulsignorelli.com Twitter: @paulsignorellihttp://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com
    32. 32. Credits & Acknowledgments Slide Design by Paul Signorelli (Images taken from lickr.com unless otherwise noted): YOUmedia Center/Chicago Public Library: From The Shifted Librarian’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/shifted/3760722098/sizes/m/in/photostream/Lecture Hall: From Kitsu’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kitsu/404092967/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Learning Commons, Ohio University Libraries: From Ohio University Libraries’photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohiouniversitylibraries/3507674990/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Social Learning: From Tatiana12’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/stella12/7242568556/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Tablets: From Gadjo_Cardenas_Sevilla’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gadjo/5162529132/sizes/m/in/photostream/ The MOOC: From Giulia.Forsyth’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/8028605773/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Lafayette Library & Learning Center: From SJSUALASCs photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjsualasc/4383240269/sizes/m/in/set-72157623498015292/ Lafayette Tech & Teen Centers: From SJSUALASC’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjsualasc/4383276843/sizes/m/in/set-72157623498015292/ Weigle Information Commons: From W eigle Information Commons’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennwic/5635598560/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Sinclair Community College: From Sinclair Library’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinclairlibrary/2048506732/ New Jersey State Library Hands-on Workshop: From New Jersey State Libraries photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/njlibraryevents/7394028020/sizes/m/in/photostream/ State Library of Ohio Mobile Training Lab: From Erielooking production’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/erielookingproductions/4951813289/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Norfolk (VA) Public Library: From Mr. T in DC’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/6725236381/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Aberdeen University Library: From Gordon M. Robertsons photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gordon_robertson/6148551614/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Learning Commons at York University, Scott Library: From Moqub’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/moqub/5789142128/ Google+ Hangout: From Robin M. Ashford’s photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/25095603@N07/5967891234/sizes/m/in/photostream/