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Invisible Learning deadline extended

The deadline to submit papers or other materials to the Invisible Learning project has been extended to August 31, 2010.  This is due to an overwhelming response to enhance the discussions on Invisible Learning.  Therefore, we are launching a new website, using the Ning platform, which will allow for greater collaboration and sharing of ideas and projects. Please visit us at www.invisiblelearning.com for more details or contact us at invisible@flacso.edu.mx to share your ideas.

About Invisible Learning

The Invisible Learning (Aprendizaje Invisible) project is collaborative book (in English and Spanish) and an online repository of bold ideas for designing cultures of sustainable innovation.  Through the development of 1) a collaborative, printed book; 2) an e-book; and 3) a repository of innovative ideas at www.invisiblelearning.com, we seek to:

  • Share experiences and innovative perspectives, focused on rethinking strategies and innovative approaches to learn and unlearn continuously
  • Promote critical thinking of the role of formal, informal and non-formal education at alleducational levels.
  • Contribute to the creation of a sustainable (and continuous) process of learning, innovating and designing new cultures for the global society.

The project aims to facilitate the creation of a globally distributed community of thinkers interested in building new futures for the education. Sustainable innovation, invisible learning (informal learning and non-formal learning) and the development of 21st century skills are some of the core issues that are analyzed and addressed in this project.  Participation at www.invisiblelearning.com is not limited to project partners and collaborators, but is open to everybody interested in innovating in learning.

Five secrets futurists don't want you to know

Professional futurists continue to make outstanding contributions toward the development of understandings of the future, but is futures thought limited to this select group? Definitely not! With a do-it-yourself attitude, and leverage of the right resources, anybody can become an effective futurist. Here’s why:

  1. Nobody knows the future – don’t trust anybody who says otherwise. The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and it’s simply getting harder and harder to imagine what will happen next, let alone 20 years from now. We are all white belts when it comes to approaching the future. We have never been there before, and it is hard to model a world that does not exist yet. What futurists provide is their “best guess” — hopefully supported by quality research and trends analyses.
  2. Futuring is easier than you think. While some futures research methodologies, such as the Delphi method, require an element of professional experience and expertise, many others are easily done — and should be done — by just about anybody. Environmental scanning, for example, involves simply exposing yourself to as much data and information on a broad range as possible (i.e., reading as many newspapers as you can, daily). The futures wheel is related to mindmapping, and can be easily done within individual or group settings. Jerome Glenn and Theodore Gordon wrote an excellent volume on methodologies used by futurists, Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 (Available at Amazon.com). For do-it-yourself futurists or those wishing to explore the field, it is an excellent resource that will get you going.
  3. We are all futurists. Few activities are as natural and universal among humans and human cultures are storytelling. We use stories to share our memories and imaginations of events that have happened or will happen. We use stories to share histories, fables and myths of the past. We also use stories to share visions of and for the future — including goal setting, promises of change, narratives of how we improve ourselves, and even apocalyptic nightmares. Even in our sleep, we often dream about future scenarios. Futurists explicitly tap into our stories and the power of storytelling to share their visions and dreams. So can everybody else.
  4. You can access the same information as professional futurists can. Unless if you’re divining knowledge from an isolated and highly controlled information source, the ubiquitous availability of data and information in today’s networked society mean that you can easily and cost-effectively build up your knowledge base of future trends. Moreover, you are welcome to join the same professional societies that professional futurists participate in, such as the World Future Society, providing you with the same connections and access to professional society-level knowledge they have.
  5. We all create the future. Futurists do not create the future, everybody does. Time may move forward, but the future does not just “happen.” Rather we share a responsibility to ensure that the futures we create are positive (ideal outcomes for humanity, the world, etc.). Moreover, in our interconnected world, we cannot disconnect from our futures. We cannot “futureproof” an organization. Nor can we find ways to fight it as individuals. Rather we can harness our inner futurists and lead in the creation of futures of our own design.

Invisible Learning: Designing cultures of sustainable innovation

cassette 2

Cristóbal Cobo and I are pleased to announce the Invisible Learning (Aprendizaje Invisible) project –and we invite your participation!

Invisible Learning // Aprendizaje Invisible is collaborative book (in English and Spanish) and an online repository of bold ideas for designing cultures of sustainable innovation.

Through the development of 1) a collaborative, printed book; 2) an e-book; and 3) a repository of innovative ideas at www.invisiblelearning.com, we seek to:

  • Share experiences and innovative perspectives, focused on rethinking strategies and innovative approaches to learn and unlearn continuously.
  • Promote critical thinking of the role of formal, informal and non-formal education at alleducational levels.
  • Contribute to the creation of a sustainable (and continuous) process of learning, innovating and designing new cultures for the global society.

This project aims to facilitate the creation of a globally distributed community of thinkers interested on the creation of new futures for the education. Sustainable innovation, invisible learning (informal learning and non-formal learning) and the development of 21st century skills are some of the core issues that will be analyzed and addressed in this project.

Moreover, we want to connect project participants with:

  • The best ideas in transforming informal and non-formal learning
  • The people doing amazing things in innovative education
  • Resources to help them get started on their own initiatives

We welcome you to join the conversation at www.invisiblelearning.com!

Project Topics and Keywords: New theories and ideas in education; Sharing of best practices; Exchange of innovation; 21st century educational institutions Open and distribute learning initiatives; Recommendation for public policies; Training teachers; Non-formal education; Informal education; Building innovative societies; Sustainable innovation.

…and others contributed by you, the authors.

Share your ideas and links using Twitter: #invislearning

Young communication: Building future skills

Cristóbal Cobo sent me this link to the Ung Kommunikation [Young Communication] project. The project examines the convergence of new technologies, youth culture and learning. And, by looking at the influence of youth culture on digital communication, the project might be able to identify a bridge between the divide of formal and non-formal learning. From Lennart Axelsson’s (Växjö University) description:

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. A multitude of new media is heaped upon us every day, and today’s generation of young people plays a central part in this development. Young peoples’ frequent use of digital tools such as computers, cellular phones, digital cameras, mp3 players and Internet communication, provide a new, and changed social landscape. Never before have youth cultures influenced society’s means of communication the way they do today.

No burger flippers left behind

About an hour ago, Maya Frost tweeted something utterly disturbing:

Not So Global: Share of US public elementary schools teaching foreign language classes drops by 40% in last decade http://tinyurl.com/ak4at9

From the linked article (via Public School Insights):

The share of U.S. public elementary schools teaching foreign language has fallen by almost 40% over the last decade. You know–the decade when 9/11, globalization, and growing diversity at home fueled calls for greater knowledge of other languages and cultures.

Education Week published these disheartening preliminary results of a new survey by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). The full results will be available in autumn.

My fear is that is a part of a widening trend where the U.S. education system is failing to meet the needs of the workforce. If graduates from U.S. public institutions cannot function in a global, intercultural environment, what employment hopes do they have? A low level role at McDonald’s?

We're always busy, but doing nothing

blackberry

Here’s another look at accelerating change. On Friday, the New York Times published an excellent review of Dalton Conley’s book, Elsewhere U.S.A.:

“A new breed of American has arrived on the scene,” Conley, a professor at New York University, declares in “Elsewhere, U.S.A.,” his compact guidebook to our nervous new world. Instead of individuals searching for authenticity, we are “intraviduals” defined by shifting personas and really cool electronics, which help us manage “the myriad data streams, impulses, desires and even consciousnesses that we experience in our heads as we navigate multiple worlds.” The denizens of our “Elsewhere Society,” Conley argues, “are only convinced they’re in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time, when they’re on their way to the next destination. Constant motion is a balm to a culture in which the very notion of authenticity . . . has been shattered into a thousand e-mails.”

Conley looks at the social transformations that were created by technological change between the mid 20th century through today. Organization and individualism have given way to intravidualism, “an ethic of fragmented selves replacing the modern ethic of individualism.” Work, play, and everything in between are blurring into non-discrete moments of incoherentness. We’re going somewhere, but we do not know where. Then again, no matter where we go, there we are.

This has serious consequences for human capital development. Perhaps to better succeed in what appears to be a directionless society of busybodies, we need to create a New Individualism, and re-orient education for developing strategic leadership at the individual level? …for learning how to cope with increased chaos and ambiguity? …for knowing how to be more selective in how new technologies are used before the technologies use us?

Social media and intercultural education

Ruth Marie Sylte tweeted:

I just got an email from an intl ed colleague that made my day! I have inspired someone in the field to explore social media/networking. 🙂 [elaborated here]

This got me thinking. In international and intercultural education programs, most practitioners are entirely missing opportunities with social media –the blending of technology, social interaction, and the co-construction of new knowledge (crowdsourcing). Blending innovative technologies with these programs seems to be the exception and not the norm. Popular social media technologies today are largely centered around the “Web 2.0” universe: Blogs (i.e., Education Futures), microblogs (i.e., Twitter and Jaiku), social networks (i.e., MySpace and Facebook), instant messaging with audio/video conferencing (i.e., Skype), virtual reality (i.e., Second Life), and a growing list of other innovations.

What social media means for…

  • Students: The ability to interact across cultures, virtually and directly, means that students may not need the massive study abroad infrastructure built up by universities, non-profits and for-profit organizations to guide them in their intercultural experiences. They can do it themselves, perhaps glean more meaningful experiences, and do it cheaper! Maya Frost is writing a book on this, and argues that students who want “an outrageously relevant global education” don’t even need universities.
  • Study abroad programs: Start innovating now or risk obsolescence. The market for study abroad is already competitive. Study abroad programs need to consider how they might integrate social media and crowdsourcing into their business models. Since most college-aged students are social media natives, these programs will have a lot of work to do to interface meaningfully with students.
  • Study abroad advisors: How much formal advising is done via Twitter or Facebook? Not much. The reality is that students can advise each other through social media. Study abroad advisors either get up to speed with social media or start looking for new careers. Social media provides new pathways to international and intercultural education, and, if you’re not on that path, you will be left behind.
  • Intercultural researchers: This is exciting stuff! We can create new forms of study abroad (i.e., “virtual study abroad” through co-seminars), create and/or analyze new culture creation through new social technologies, and radically transform our approaches to international and intercultural education.

What’s next?

Social media will not be the last innovations to pressure the transformation of international and intercultural education programs. To survive, these programs need to incorporate a new culture that allows continuous transformation toward opening themselves –and embracing– new, transformative technologies.  Culture change is difficult thing to do.  At least interculturalists are experts at it!

Piracy as a source of innovation

Matt Mason, author of The Pirate’s Dilemma, is pressing for a television piece based on his book and, “how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works. It offers understanding and insight for a time when piracy is just another business model, the remix is our most powerful marketing tool and anyone with a computer is capable of reaching more people than a multi-national corporation.”

Check out what he has to say about communication, information, knowledge and innovation in this teaser/demo:

The dumbest generation?

The Boston Globe assembled a list of “eight reasons why this is the dumbest generation.” They write:

Author Mark Bauerlein aims to provoke in his new book, “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future” (Tarcher/Penguin). Do you agree? Take a look at eight reasons the Emory University English professor gives to ”not trust anyone under 30” — see which you think is the best.

The root of the problem seems to be embedded in our culture. Given the long tradition of anti-intellectualism in the United States, I somehow doubt that digital technology is responsible for stupefying Americans, as Bauerlein suggests. Digital technologies simply make it easier for us to learn about how much more intelligent many other people might be, and how Americans are losing their knowledge-based competitive advantage. The key is in how we use these technologies. If we use them to continue our tradition of anti-intellectualism, then it only seems reasonable that we should expect the production of mediocrity to expand.

This week, Education Futures will focus on America’s unstable orbit around mediocrity. Next week, we will focus on what some people are doing about it.