Many countries are seeking a radical transformation of the process and outputs of skill formation as solutions to the economic crisis are sought. One of the consequences of the reality of exponential technological change for the VET curriculum, which has been the cornerstone of skills formation, is that it is already outdated by the time students start their course as the pace and impact of technological change in the workplace removes the need for previously taught skills. Skills obsolescence therefore needs to become a factor in the planning and delivery of the VET curriculum so that it is reviewed and changed on a more regular and routine basis than hitherto. This means more than deploying digital technologies to the aims, objectives, content, activity and assessment of traditional skills formation but reframing skills education itself so that it is presented to the students as a ‘curriculum of problems’ around which resources become available as required. What we see emerging is a heuristics-based model defined by the skills of search, critiquing, collaboration and curation and the practice of real-time application of knowledge.
Over the course of the last year Cathy Ellis has been working with Professor Sugata Mitra and more recently with associates at Harvard School of Education, MIT Media Lab and EdX exploring the implications of this approach and planning a series of controlled curriculum experiments which will be conducted in a number of VET settings over the coming academic year. These experiments will seek to examine the following questions:
Have we reached the point where learning to learn has become a fundamental capability for the VET student and what does this mean in practice?
Can we take the concept of Self-Organised Learning as pioneered by Sugata Mitra in the primary sector and apply it to VET?
Will Self-Organised Learning better equip our students to manage the challenges of continual change in the workplace as previously sought after vocational competencies are rendered obsolete in a world characterised by ‘plug and play’?
In her demo Cathy will outline the work done to date and share the initial findings from the first round of experiments which are planned to take place in October 2012.