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Moravec presents “A theory for invisible learning”

Education Futures founder, Dr. John Moravec, presented A theory for invisible learning during his keynote at the IDEC@EUDEC conference in Mikkeli, Finland on June 9, 2016.

His address to the conference was based on an update and rethink of the work he and Dr. Cristóbal Cobo published in their book Aprendizaje Invisible (“Invisible Learning”). Says Moravec:

A lot has changed since we wrote the book in 2011, and we need a formal theory for invisible learning more than ever. We seem to have gotten a bit hung up on technology. It’s not about computers. It’s about connecting with ourselves as humans, embracing the human experience, and trusting in each other to learn.

He further emphasizes:

Invisible learning is about placing trust in learners and shifting the flow of power from the top-down to the learner-out. By removing the rigidity of top-down control, and placing trust in learners, invisible learning can be made visible.

To date, hundreds of thousands of copies of the book Aprendizaje Invisible have been distributed. The text has become essential reading for educational change makers in the Spanish-speaking world. The book is available as a free download at aprendizajeinvisible.com.

Slides from John Moravec’s talk:

(Download as PDF)

More:

  1. The need for invisible learning
  2. A theory for invisible learning
  3. Approaches for enabling invisible learning

Report from the European Democratic Education Community 2013 Conference

Peter Gray lecture at EUDEC

Note: This article was originally published in Other Education, vol. 2, no. 2 (2013), pp. 113-115, and is reprinted under Creative Commons license (BY-SA).

From July 28 to August 2, 2013, the European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC) held its fifth annual general meeting and conference. This year’s host was De Ruimte democratic school in Soest, The Netherlands, with an organizing committee comprised of staff members and alumni of Dutch democratic schools. 261 participants attended, ranging from students, staff members, parents, and interested community members. I attended as a member of the Sudbury Munich startup school’s scientific advisory board.

An affiliate of the International Democratic Education Network, EUDEC claims to represent about 58,000 people across 26 countries, including 42 schools, 19 start-up schools, and other member organizations and individuals. The bulk of the conference was organized into an open space, where all participants were invited to organize workshops, including ones that were organized spontaneously according to conversations and needs of participants during the conference. The annual general meeting was limited to voting members, but the final day of the conference was open to an additional 27 public visitors. At the last day, invited scholars, researchers, entrepreneurs, and school founders provided lectures and workshops.

Democratic education, as defined by EUDEC is comprised of two pillars:

  1. Self-determined learning: “Students in democratic schools and universities choose how to spend their school days, pursue their interests and prepare themselves for their lives and chosen careers” (EUDEC, n.d.).
  2. A community of equality and mutual respect: “Democratic schools have school meetings in which all members of the community have an equal vote, regardless of age or status. Students and teachers can sit together as equals to discuss and vote on school rules, curricula, projects, the hiring of staff and even budgetary matters” (EUDEC, n.d.).

EUDEC member schools have various models and approaches to how democratic education is practiced in their institutions, but many face similar obstacles in gaining the approval of government authorities across Europe, which nearly universally impose structural limitations that ban self-determined learning and disallow students to have an equal voice. The result is that many schools face constant legal battles to stay open, and, in some cases, even parents of the schools are charged as criminals for sending their children there (see esp. Thomas, 2013 for a typical case outline). For the schools that are under siege by authorities, the conference provides a valuable retreat to share experiences, learn from others, and expand networks.

The conference theme was “we create the future,” which from my perspective as an education futurist could not be more pertinent. This clashed with a sentiment shared by many of the schools, and particularly the Sudbury-type schools, that their approach to education is “radical.” I strongly disagree. In an era driven by accelerating technological change, globalization, and the emergence of a “knowmadic” society (Moravec, 2013a, 2013b), democratic schools are a necessary option for creating a near-future workforce that is creative, imaginative, and innovative in its application of personal-level knowledge.

As the democratic schools movement grows, the shift from their approach from being perceived as radical to a viable option presents new opportunities for research and academic discourse development. From my observations at conference workshops and in conversations with participants, there are tremendous variations in how self-determined and democratic learning is implemented. Deep research into differing practices could yield rich new, vocabulary and dimensions of democratic education that have been largely ignored.

In my overall opinion, the EUDEC conference in 2013 deserves high praise for both quality of content and organization. In my informal conversations with participants, however, the conference itself was not the star of the show – but rather the food. Chef Sytse Kramer from HetEten set up a full kitchen outdoors, employed at-risk youth as cooks, and produced restaurant-quality dishes that received near universal acclaim throughout the week. At the closing ceremony of the conference, we had a lot to cheer about, but only the raucous applause for Chef Kramer could be heard over several kilometers away in the center of Soest.

About the author

John Moravec is a scholar on the future of work and education; a global speaker; editor of the Knowmad Society project; a co-director of the Invisible Learning project; and is an advisor with Education Futures (http://www.educationfutures.com).

References

  1. EUDEC. (n.d.). European Democratic Education Community | Democratic Education. Retrieved August 05, 2013, from http://www.eudec.org/Democratic+Education
  2. Moravec, J. W. (2013a). Knowmad Society: The “new” work and education. On the Horizon, 21(2), 79–83. doi:10.1108/10748121311322978
  3. Moravec, J. W. (2013b). Rethinking human capital development in Knowmad Society. In J. W. Moravec (Ed.), Knowmad Society (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Education Futures.
  4. Thomas, A. (2013). Autonomous and informal education under threat: Summerhill, UK, Sudbury schools in The Netherlands and home education. Other Education, 2(1), 75–77.

Will Richardson on knowmadic schooling

KQED’s MindShift posted highlights from Will Richardson‘s talk at this year’s ISTE conference, where he shared his thoughts on knowmadic schooling:

Learning should be self-directed and based on the individual’s interests and passions, not curriculum or standards. This way, students will leave school with deep mastery of one subject instead of a little bit of information about a lot of things. Students could work in different contexts, produce new ideas, and transcend geographical limitations. Their interest in the subject would feed their motivation and by working with other students across the world, they’ll be able to enhance networking skills. With this conception of “knowmadic” schooling, knowledge would be fluid and continuous, with kids revising initial understandings as they gain more information.

“In modern learning it’s all about producing and iterating, figuring out what’s working and not working, revising, trying again,” said Richardson. In a “knowmadic” learning environment kids could constantly relearning and will be less afraid of failure.

View Richardson’s full set of slides at SlideShare:

(Thanks for the shout-out, Will!)

Exploring the "3rd space" of co-working and co-learning

Last week, I traveled to Utrecht, The Netherlands, to participate in the 3rd Space World Conference, hosted by seats2meet.com, a co-working enterprise that is establishing locations throughout the world. The event was designed to introduce people to sustainable co-working, and to also connect co-working centers and thought leaders together. Knowledge sharing, the enabling of serendipity and Society 3.0 are some of the other key elements that were covered.

I provided an update on the Knowmad Society project, which really looks at how third space people — knowmads — build and interact with the third space through education, working, and living:

Reflecting on the day, our moderator, Sebastian Olma, noted:

Obviously, the people populating 3rd spaces need a set of skills, attitudes and craftsmanship that is different form the one their industrial ancestors had. So education is an enormously important topic in this context and also one that “knowmad” John Moravec could only broach at the conference. It is true that we need to be rather imaginative in this area. However, and somewhat paradoxically, we also need to be very clear about the specific parameters that we want to use in order to set up a 3rd space of education as one of imagination, one that facilitates the formation of individuals able to navigate their tech-saturated environment as active contributors rather than passive consumers.

Other important talks recorded from the event:

The livestream of the event attracted over 1000 viewers from 31 countries, and nearly 125,000 people were reached by Twitter with approximately 1.8 million impressions. The topic trended in the Dutch twittersphere, and I’m sure it trended in other countries as well. From this initial success, seats2meet.com plans to create a global platform to connect co-working spaces from around the world. Stay tuned!

Whose crazy idea is it anyway?

As the 21st century digital revolution continues to disrupt the economy, and the traditional knowledge claim held by experts of the 20th century is making way for a global entrepreneurial mindset, (university) education finds itself on the verge of its most radical transformations since the industrial revolution. Whose Crazy Idea Is It Anyway is an academic endeavor that has the ambition to set the agenda in the educational landscape of the coming decade.

The work conference takes a specific angle to tackle the education issue: the (presumed) tension between entrepreneurial and academic values. Where do these values overlap and when do they contradict each other? What kinds of learning environments can start to emerge when both these worlds join forces? And how can these new learning networks be equipped to address urgent societal issues?

Following a “Yes – No – What the F*ck” intermission exercise facilitated by the Knowmads business school in Amsterdam, I gave a keynote talk that centered on invisible learning, and how higher education can contribute toward building Knowmad Society.

Later, I chatted with Andrew Keen on how we might foster entrepreneurship and expressions of innovation in higher education. Unfortunately, the studio lighting couldn’t mask my jet lag and emerging head cold:

Other interesting interviews:

Parag Khanna

Zoltan Acs

Thieu Besselink

Hrobjartur Arnason

Scale it sideways!

One of the key points we make in Invisible Learning is that new technologies and new possibilities for social configurations are expanding the ecology of options we have for learning. “Schooling” is no longer limited to just schools. Rather, we can now learn in formal environments, online, informally, and serendipitously. Moreover, we can leverage technologies to remix these modes together — so, for example, it is now possible to have a meaningful and recognized learning experience at coffee shops, city parks, bowling alleys, etc.

Just as wise investors diversify their investment portfolio, so should we build diverse portfolios of our schools. This means that we should not invest too heavily in any one strategy. If we do not know with any precision what the future will be, we cannot have one-size-fits-all schools. We need to expand our ecologies of options.

Many times we find something that works. Perhaps a new pedagogical technique …or, maybe a new type of school. One of the first things we often ask ourselves when evaluating an innovation is: How do we scale it up?

FORGET SCALING UP.

WE NEED TO SCALE SIDEWAYS IN EDUCATION.

Scaling up is how we industrialize ideas, and employ them within a top-down managed system. This works in an educational monoculture, but not in a diverse ecology. Rather than industrializing our best ideas, why not share them horizontally? That is, let’s invite people and schools to adopt them if they work for them?

Scaling sideways invites co-creation. It is dialogical.

The question we need to ask is, how can we facilitate broader horizontalized communications and sharing of best practices, etc., between schools in a diverse ecology of options? Perhaps this means that top educational leaders, governments and other interest groups need to focus less on managing; and focus more on attending to the chaos and uncertainty of a more dynamic educational ecology.

And, let’s make sure to invite the kids into the horizontalized co-creation. We are all white belts when it comes to understanding and acting on our futures. We do not have any role models to draw from. We have never been to the future before.

We must engage kids in this conversation now. Knowmad Society is their’s, but it is up to us to build it together.


Note: Adapted from my plenary talk at the Onderwijs en ondernemen “op expeditie” conference in The Hague, Netherlands on October 6, 2011.

The Invisible Learning Tour kickoff

As the Invisible Learning book enters the final layout stage this week (expect the release in April), Cristóbal Cobo and I are already delivering talks, workshops, and seminars on the topic. Already, in addition to our home base countries, we have been invited to speak in Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain.

In regard to the Netherlands, what started as a Twitter conversation two weeks ago has expanded into a two-day event, The Invisible Learning Tour (TILT), on March 7-8. The event is a co-production of Sudbury Netherlands, CMD Leeuwarden, HAN, Inholland, Knowmads, and MooiPunt. The Co-lere website introduces the gathering:

Our schools, universities and other institutions need to make a quantum leap to catch up to the highly-globalized knowledge- and innovation-driven society. At this conference, we work together with John Moravec, education futurist, in an Invisible Learning tour to make new educational paradigms and approaches to human capital development visible.

Monday, March 7, I will open with a talk on Invisible Learning in the morning, and, in the afternoon, we will morph the event into an open meeting space. Further details are being posted to this Facebook page (where you can RSVP to attend, too).

Tuesday, March 8, will make site visits to see invisible learning concepts in practice at HAN Arnhem, the Sudbury Schools of De Koers in Beverwijk and De Kampanje in Amersfoort, Knowmads in Amsterdam, and the Creative Learning Lab in Amsterdam.

…and, to better introduce all this, the organizers (and I) are organizing a “teaser” webinar on March 2:

20:00 Amsterdam time
13:00 Minneapolis/Central/Mexico City time

Link: https://umconnect.umn.edu/ilwebinar

(More information on Facebook)

Need more information on the Invisible Learning kickoff in the Netherlands?

Join the TILT Facebook group or email contact@mooipunt.nl.

If you cannot make it on March 7-8…

…and if you are interested in organizing a talk or workshop about Invisible Learning at your organization, drop us an email!

Marcel Kampman on Project Dream School

At Lift11, Marcel Kampman of Project Dream School shared experiences from a movement to leapfrog ahead and rethink how we educate and teach our kids. What makes the project exciting is that it is directly linked to the construction of a new school building for an existing school in the Netherlands. Everything will be reconsidered, reframed, redesigned to make it into the best school for the Netherlands (and maybe even the world):

Watch live streaming video from liftconference at livestream.com

p.s., Thanks for the shout out, Marcel!

Invisible Learning conversation with Knowmads – Monday, June 7

20:00 Netherlands and España
13:00 U.S. CDT and Mexico
15:00 Argentina
19:00 Portugal
21:00 Finland
14:00 Chile

Next Monday, June 7, the Invisible Learning project invites you to participate in an open webinar with our invited guests: Knowmads (Amsterdam, Netherlands), a creative, entrepreneurial school for developing entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in this world.

This is not a conference, but an opportunity to converse, exchange ideas and viewpoints among cyber-participants. Participation is open to all.

If you have questions and ideas in the upcoming days before the webinar, you can send them through the Invisible Learning website to @john or @cristobalcobo — or by Twitter (@moravec or @cristobalcobo).

  • The link to join the webinar will be posted at the www.invisiblelearning.com portal
  • Please spread the word about this event by sharing this invitation (i.e., feel free to copy it into your blog)
  • On Twitter, we use the #invislearning hashtag for tracking Invisible Learning conversations.

We will use Adobe Connect Pro to broadcast the webinar, and a recording of the encounter will be posted online immediately after the meeting.

If you would like to know the corresponding hour for this activity in your country, we recommend you use this tool: http://www.timedial.net/world-time-difference-calculator/

We look forward to seeing you at the webinar!
John Moravec
Cristóbal Cobo

Education Futures in the Netherlands

I’m back from a busy week in the Netherlands. First on the agenda was Education Futures NL, an Education 3.0-focused workshop collaboration between Education Futures and Helikon (Fons van den Berg). In addition to our collaboration, the workshop was supplemented with contributions from Cristóbal Cobo and the Knowmads. Meeting space for the event was generously provided by the Creative Learning Lab, a part of the Waag Society. The event attracted 40 of the sharpest minds in the country, most of whom indicated that they were prepared to bring disruptive innovations to education immediately. The group will continue to meet and develop ideas — stay tuned for further developments, and make sure to view Marcel de Leeuwe‘s photos from the event!

My second conference visit was with i+i, where I gave a keynote talk on innovative teaching and learning “in the cloud.” An interesting component of the conference is the close relationships between its members, who, often, are isolated as technology leaders within their institutions. The event was therefore an intellectual reunion for many. One interesting aspect was “TeachMeetNL09,” an unconference within the conference, organized by Fons van den Berg and Marieke van Osch. By capitalizing on the social aspects of the i+i group and refocusing it into an unconference, I believe that Fons and Marieke are pioneering new trends that we will see emerge in professional and academic conferences.

As a side note, I also joined the Knowmads advisory board. With these great developments (and more), I hope to be back soon!

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