Reflections from the LLUK conference 8 December 2009

LLUK’s annual conference was held at King’s Place, London, yesterday. The theme was “Innovation during a recession recovery?” I helped to arrange a workshop entitled ‘Embracing Change: 21st Century Learning’ and attended the part of it run by Becta. We had a lively discussion about the support that institutions give to their staff for keeping up to date with using technology – both for their own day to day work and in learning delivery.

CPD – carrot or stick?

There was some debate about whether training in using technology should be mandatory or optional. Some suggested that the 30 hours of CPD required by the Institute for Learning (IfL) of its registered practitioners should be more prescriptive. Others felt that a ‘top down’ approach never works. One individual worked in a college that has had a major refurbishment. Training in the use of the state of the art technology came hand in hand with that and it had been well received by staff.

So, what should we do?

I am aware, through our (LLUK’s) partnership work with Becta, that a prospectus of CPD opportunities around technology for learning is about to be launched – I think this will go a long way to helping staff navigate the minefield of potential courses they could take.

With regard to IfL and their 30 hours of learning, I wondered aloud whether there should be a recommendation that a percentage of those hours should be focused on getting up to speed with using technology for learning. There seemed to be some support for this idea.

I would be really interested to hear what people think about this. Please use the comment feature below or visit the conference website to continue the debate:

Learning and pedagogy

Another theme that came through was the need to refocus on the fundamentals of learning. How do people learn now, what methods do they use, and how do we learn to learn? All this talk of new technologies has drawn some of us away from what we are all about – learning!

What we need to enable learning practitioners across the lifelong learning sector to do is to select the appropriate tools to provide the most dynamic and good quality learning experience as possible. In the modern world, it is not possible to ignore the tool of technology, alongside more traditional tools.

What I’m intrigued to know is are there differences between using traditional methods (books, chalk and talk, group work etc) to teach and using technology? Or are the fundamentals of teaching the same as they’ve always been? Are new technologies changing pedagogy?

I would suggest that new technologies are challenging the institutional models we have for learning but perhaps not the nature of teaching and learning.

Do join the debate, I’d love to know your views!

In the meantime, you might find these food for thought. Two, somewhat cheesy, videos on how learning in a university could look in the future (bit of a big advert for iphones though!):

One comment

  1. Hi Bryony,

    I had a brief chat with Will Hutton as he was leaving the LLUK conference – about the need to be ‘self-authoring’ in the 21st century (that he spoke about), and fact that only a minority of people currently have ‘self-authoring’ minds, according to an OECD project.

    Harvard Prof Robert Kegan has argued that this gap from where people are now, to where they need to be, provides the a “missing intellectual foundation” for lifelong learning.

    Love to hear your thoughts on this!

    Here’s an e-mail I sent to Will Hutton about it:

    It was good to catch you for a brief chat as you were leaving yesterday’s LLUK conference.

    That paper by Howard Gardner’s Harvard colleague Prof Robert Kegan (about the need for the ‘self-authoring’ mind) that you were interested to see is called ‘Competencies as Working Epistemologies: Ways We Want Adults to Know’.

    It was part of a 5-year OECD project on the ‘Definition and Selection of Key Competencies’ (DeSeCo) for the 21st century ‘Knowledge Society’.

    Kegan found that the competencies uncovered by this DeSeCo project as being necessary for adults in the digital age are typified by the demand to be ‘self-authoring’.

    But – worryingly – his research found that “even among highly educated, resource-rich, middle-class, professional samples” less than half of people (around 58 per cent) do not achieve this self-authoring mind.

    With a more diverse sample from a wider range of backgrounds, around 79 percent haven’t developed a self-authoring mind.

    Prof Kegan’s paper concludes with an inspiring paragraph which touches on how to overcome this large gap between the self-authoring competencies that professions will require and the actual capacities employees currently have.

    It’s the para where Kegan suggests that removing this gap is the ‘missing intellectual foundation’ for lifelong learning! (And it will need ‘transformational learning’ not merely informational learning). Someone needs to tell LLUK… 😉

    * * *
    Prof Kegan writes:

    “If one accepts the metaphor of “culture as school,” then how should we regard the possibility that our suggested competencies may comprise a very challenging curriculum, one in which many of us are unprepared to succeed? One answer to this question might be that we should reconsider our list and revise our expectations downward. We should, perhaps in sympathy, consider our suggested competencies to be the elitist favorites of advantaged intellectuals, and comprise a less complex set of expectations. But since the world is not going to become less demanding simply because we might wish it would, I suggest another kind of answer: No good school presents its students with a curriculum they can master immediately. A challenging curriculum – one that is even at the moment beyond our grasp – is actually one of two key ingredients for an excellent school. The other is that the school must provide its students the support to master the challenging curriculum over time. The gap between the mental demands implicit in our suggested competencies and the mental capacities of the “student” actually provides a heretofore missing intellectual foundation for the purposes of adult or lifelong education that is as strong as the foundation which exists for the education of the young – namely, education not merely for the acquisition of skills or an increase in one’s fund of knowledge, but education for development, education for transformation.”

    * * *


    Matthew Mezey
    (News Editor, Library and Information Update magazine, CILIP)



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