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Posts Tagged ‘learning

One thing I do to sense changes in my field is watch relevant YouTube videos. YouTube’s algorithms take note of what I am interested in and recommend similar videos.

For example, in 2017 I watched and archived in a playlist this video about how an engineer explained virtual reality (VT) to learners at five different levels.


Video source

Last week, YouTube recommended the video below to me.


Video source

Not only was this one way of staying current with technological trends in education and training, it was also a useful resource for a Masters course I will be facilitating soon.

Some folks like to complain about much current technologies seem to know about us. They might forget that strategically letting some information go can be a good thing.

I read this recent tweet and decided to make an image quote out of some of it.

The eyes see and the ears hear what’s already in the mind. Our perception becomes our reality. Sometimes learning is the easy part. It’s the unlearning that’s hard. — Amy Fast

Unlearning is hard. With older learners, unlearning is often prerequisite to learning. Old habits die hard, if at all. You must break before you can make.

In edu-speak, we might point out the importance of deconstructing before constructing. If we encourage learners to build on the wrong foundations or with questionable materials, we are at fault for rushing with the building instead of starting with the tedious work of deconstructing.

Last Saturday I sacrificed some family time to attend a welcome briefing for adjunct faculty of a local university. Yes, I am associating with another institute of higher education by offering a new course in a Masters programme.

I took quite a few notes at the meeting, but I was most struck by the profound simplicity of a statement by the university’s president. In describing the university’s mission to be an institute of lifelong learning, he said that it was “not about delivering content, but about attitude and aptitude” instead.

I could not agree more and was reminded of an image quote that I made in 2016:

Don't say

Lifelong learning stems less from engagement and more from empowerment; less from being given answers and more from asking critical questions; less from solving old problems and more from seeking new ones.

It takes a lifetime to keep learning how to do these things. And because this takes so long, it outlives standards and tests for content. To keep going for so long, attitudes towards what learning is and what evidence of learning looks like must change.

If attitudes do not change, we pay lip service to what lifelong learning is. We teach, perhaps even passionately, without realising that students have not changed. We test, perhaps rigorously, without realising that students have not learnt.

It is not lost on me that the profoundly simple (and simply profound) statement is easy to say, but not easy to implement. Words are only as strong as a plan, a plan is only as strong as a policy, and a policy is only as strong as its implementation.

I am going to do my part in embodying the attitudes and actions of a lifelong learner as I lead other learners. I hope that the obstacles that I will face in this new journey are the natural ones and not artificial ones placed there by lip service.

This is my fifth image quote update for the week:

The danger of lectures is that they create the illusion of teaching for teachers, and the illusion of learning for learners.

My original image quotable quote was:

The danger of lectures is that they create the illusion of teaching for teachers, and the illusion of learning for learners.

This is one of those image quotes that 1) speaks for itself, and 2) had a great CC image from Flickr (thankfully, still available online).

This is my fourth image quote update for the week:

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. -- Lord Alexander.

My original image quotable quote was:

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. -- Lord Alexander.

All this is to say that we should pursue answers by seeking meaningful and powerful questions first. While this might seem intuitive, we sometimes forget to do this in schooling — answers are provided before questions are asked; artificial solutions are given before authentic problems are identified.

This MindShift article was one of the better written critiques on “personalised” learning.

Most current vendor offerings and institutional implementations of “personalised learning” tend to focus on individual pacing. These tools and platforms might allow learners to go at their own pace and explore a walled garden.

If I had to summarise the critiques from the article of such “personalisation”, I would say that:

  • those implementations might forget that learning is also cooperative and collaborative
  • the tools and platforms are based on biased algorithms that do not learn and adjust
  • self-pacing with outdated material is still learning outdated material

The bottomline? Pacing as personalisation is only good for low-level procedural learning. It is the low-hanging fruit, and since it is easier to reach, it is sold and implemented.

At the higher and opposite end of the spectrum of personalised learning is individualisation. Will Richardson and Stephen Downes might call it “personal learning.”

At the minimum, personal learning involves the learner and helping them to set goals and then to follow up on them. It necessitates the provision of choice and agency. Both these stem from empowerment.



If you think that this seems like a tall order and is drastically different from a conventional school, then you are right. But while doing this is more difficult, it is not impossible. The article also described examples of personal learning in action as well as research revealing its effectiveness and ineffectiveness.


Video source

The video above described the “five-hour rule” — setting aside an hour a day to read, write, set goals, and learn. It also listed and briefly describe what some famously successful people so to learn deliberately.

It went on to elaborate on what such learning might look like:

  • Planning for specific outcomes
  • Practising deliberately and getting feedback
  • Reflecting deeply on such practice
  • Actively setting aside time and effort to do these things
  • Dealing with small problems as they arise instead of waiting for them to grow
  • Tinkering with ideas

When I used to lead a department of about 20 lovely folks, I recall requiring them to do most these things. When I left, most left me notes that they learnt a lot. Not from me; they taught themselves because they became more deliberate learners.


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