Thursday, 23 July 2015

From Inert Education to 
Multidimensional Interconnected Learning

Education, in the traditional sense, means formal teaching from experts via sanctioned syllabus. Literally, to instruct the pupil in specific prescribed topics. This means education is a structured process, denoting a formal body of knowledge that is done to the would-be scholar, where a course is tightly manifested in a top town approach.

But here is the snag. Such a top down method limits student enquiry to the boundaries of that subject matter. And that is precisely way business as usual education is not enough anymore. For sure, it is needed as a foundation at early grade levels. But today’s world demands much more. The world is interconnecting not just on the digital stage, nor merely through mass international trade, transit and travel. It is our ideas, our memes, that are crossing boundaries faster and more pervasive than ever. Tangible and tacit knowledge, concentrated information, and even what would have been in the recent past provincial events, criss-cross to form unprecedented and extraordinary archetypes, hybrid situations, and challenging geopolitical affairs.

Hard science too, is grossly affected. The kernels of physics, chemistry and biology used to be strict distinct disciplines in their own right. Then came a watered down version we know as integrated science. And that was the beginning of the end of discrete science. Now, by way of examples, biotechnology, genomics and molecular chemistry tips all that up. Ecology, zoology, and geology, where do these branches of learning begin and end. Much of significant cultural history has always been where boundaries cross intellectually, politically or geographically. But the history of the future will be far more interlinked than we have been used to, and for many, ready to accept. And then comes commerce, design and technology! Hyperinnovation any one?

For the time-honoured teacher, this derives peculiar ambiguities for both educational content and the way it is delivered. ‘Teacher,’ has some influence here, but only if the role is extended and broken from for the chains of restricted educational frameworks. Because the ‘out-there’ real-world is a country mile away from a provincial academic subject and end of semester exam papers (teachers, I here you scorn).

The multidimensional learning model, however, is more than different from the formal education and teaching mould. It is an altogether different paradigm. It is far from waiting for a expert teacher to step up in front of marker board, or these days, a multimedia screen. It is about learning spontaneously about whatever is of interest, or whatever is relevant, or whatever interrelated issues, topics and narratives one chooses, under one’s own initiative, curiosity and life goals? Teacherless education systems are the shape of things to come. However, tutors, coaches and mentors will be abound in conjunction with ubiquitous computing and networks, natural language search engines and databases, immersive virtual holographic hypermedia, and super smart/expert applications.

Hyperlearning is about doing real things in real context. Interconnected learning that is self-driven that leads to a portfolio of authentic outcomes. A track record of tangible projects, products, designs, books, articles, artworks, musical compositions, dance, gadgets, trophies, and assorted DIYinnovations that can be measured in authentic value (e.g.; win a music contract that goes platinum; build a zero-defect healthcare system; sell 100-billion ‘penny’ biodegradable plastic bags).

And this is no idiosyncratic perspective, because this is how the world and its blog is set to rollout from now on. Without this kind of authentic value outcome; that eleven year of school education and three-to-five year of university education will be wasted and vain effort. And one the day that will leave the graduate with financial dept before he sets off in the big blue and green and now red world.

As set out below, one of the most significant affects the world-wide-web as had, is the democratisation and access to knowledge and information that was extremely difficult, and in many cases, almost impossible to get hold of a mere 20 years ago. In fact, internet tools and applications facilitating instant access to universally distributed databases, is where much of learning takes place today.

But the future of the internet’s learning tools and toys, will make today’s education sites more than jaded. From now on, a hurricane of innovative learning tools, highly novel and more effective learning strategies, and even learning concepts that are so profound in their architecture, that they can be compared to the 13th century enlightenment.

Hence, education as we have known it, is unquestionably re-tooling from exclusion and scarcity to the prospect of learning abundance. Just as Gutenberg press freed the transcribed word, the Internet is liberating knowledge and information. There is a revolution going on in and from education to multidimensional. Creating a brand new multiple GigaIndustries that are about to take off.

Developing ‘Fluid’ Intelligence.

Schooling of old, at least to my mind, leaves out a number of essential topics and disciplines (more later below). One of them is the mediated development and improvement of basic intelligence. In figurative terms, this is about getting the mind into the gymnasium; to get those 100 rep intellectual bench presses.

Incumbent lessons, exercises and project tasks do that to an extent; but far from vigorously engaging pupils in learning processes and supporting tools that essentially stimulates the brain, cultivating a smarter mind.

But there is more to this. Today, individual and teams need to develop particular types of reasoning. As the gait of technological innovation hastens, new and often special kinds of problems and knowledge are being created.

Even in the very recent past, when technological evolution was a great deal more measured and disconnected, a good classic education got you a fair way. Knowledge and experience was a great deal more crystalline. Skills, knowledge, and experience where mostly based on long-term serial education and thinking. This so-called crystallized intellect is, however, experience intel. Your data-base in fact. The ability to access facts from long-term memory. Rules of thumb and general knowledge, largely established through vocabulary, thus improving through experience with age.

Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, is the capacity to solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. This includes pattern recognition and abstract reasoning. Connecting the unconnected. Seeing the funny side of things, and the insight and foresight that comes with this. People with a spontaneous wit, are often great original problem solvers who can see over the horizon.

The problem is that most examinations, tests and work project are measured against quantitative crystalline metrics. Fluid measure, to a large extent, are left out. And this in a time when fluid intelligence is at a premium. Increasingly, everyday situations are made of novel puzzles and questionable riddles. Just think of the stuff you need to continuously learn anew on the internet and its ever growing number of applications, gadgets, and tools. There is not a day goes by that I personally do not have to figure out and learn something new. This is the state of play everywhere and it is not going to bottom out.
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