Is there an end to school? Bruce Dixon

Is there an  end to school?  Bruce Dixon

I have heard of Bruce Dixon for a number of years now and finally met him at the ELH Conference at Lorne.  He was MC and facilitated a critical conversation as a workshop after the keynote with each of the four Keynote presenters.  I went to every one of them.  I learnt a lot from his knowledge but also how to run group discussion to get the key ideas out and people’s involvement.

Bruce did not let us down.

I really loved the summary by decades: 1980s computers for few, 1990s secretarial phase (Office), 2000s social web and now ubiquity. Bruce next explored whether these shifts were fundamental or incremental.

Bruce examined three overlapping notions of emerging web technologies, contemporary pedagogical insight and universal access. I think there are plenty of “emerged” learning technologies which are not understood, known about nor used. My working definition of emerging learning technologies is dependent on people’s awareness.  If someone has not heard about a technology  it is emerging for them.  For some of us Twitter was emerging in 2007 though for others it is really only now emerging into their consciousness to the extent that are considering or be forced to consider its use.

Contemporary pedagogical insight comes from a better understanding of the realities of the modern learners’ world and how they learn and how much do we know.  Yes the modern learning world.  Twenty one years ago I completed my MEd in non-formal education in the third world.  Increasingly I see non- formal education as being the keystone for the modern learners’ world.

The notion of universal  access  for me bubbles to the surface related issues such as speed of knowledge acquisition at the expenses of understanding, access for some  though not all,  perhaps due to awareness, choice or socio- economic consideration and access to what by what? In the past there has been universal access though now the difference is the ease and speed of access.

So far he has made me think and reflect and he took us one step further to make us engage in the process of reimagining.
We are being blindsided by talk of a mining boom/building book- locked in old paradigms.

Bruce then explored the Re-imagination of asset services and retail in music, video, textbooks, your wallet, employment storefronts, research and development and of course education. Bruce believes we are plagued by low expectations and we should do something about this. We tend to overestimate the effect of technology in the short run and underestimate the effect of technology in the long run.  What is my expectation?


Principles of contemporary learning

  1. Modern learners have the ability to access high quality content when ever and in whatever format we need it.
  2. Modern learners have the ability p for low or no  cost
  3. Modern learners have the ability to  form networks
  4. Modern learners have the ability to form highly interconnected groups around an object or interest.
  5. Modern learners have the ability save and retrieve information in a variety of formats
  6. Modern learners have the ability to work in teams to participate in open and distributed projects
  7. Modern learners have the ability reuse and build upon the work of others.
  8. Modern learners have the ability to quickly find feedback from multiple sources
  9. Modern learners have the ability generate large amounts of data about our technological based activities
  10. Modern learners have the ability to view the learning artefact of others
  11. Modern learners have the ability to amplify important and noteworthy content.
  12. Modern learners have the ability to operate in the same spaces  as experts and professionals

I my opinion there are a number of questions to his keynote question

  1. Is there an end of school? No
  2. Should there be an end of school? No
  3. Will there be an end of school? No
  4. Will school not change? No
  5. Will there be radical changes in school? Some
  6. Will there be an evolution of change in school? Yes?

Not surprising my answer to the last one – you need patience to run long.

cheers Martin

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