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John Moravec

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Invisible learning: The (r)evolution outside of the classroom

Who gets to decide what kids learn? For whose benefit is all this, really? We make learning visible for the people who get to decide. But, what if we could invisibilize learning?

Dr. John Moravec share that the Theory for Invisible Learning is that we learn more, and do so invisibly, when we separate structures of control that restrict freedom and self-determination from learning experiences. Learning becomes invisible when we empower each of us to learn our own way. Removing structures of control opens possibilities. The end outcomes or goals of an experience are neither dictated nor determined from the start, but instead emerge as learning develops. Such experiences include free play, self-organized learning communities, authentic problem-based learning, and experimentation to acquire new knowledge. This talk was given at TEDxUCundinamarca in Colombia using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Dr. Moravec is an internationally-recognized scholar and speaker on the future of education and work, lead author of Knowmad Society, and the founder of Minneapolis-based Education Futures LLC. For a full bio, visit John’s personal page at john.moravec.us/about.

John Moravec at the World Bank: Knowmadic futures for youth

Youth are the main consumers and participants in education. Despite intimate knowledge of the successes and failures of modern education, youth rarely become architects, shapers, or producers of a system that is built on their behalf. The World Bank Group’s Youth Summit 2016 sought to bridge that gap, giving youth an active voice in creating the vision for the future of education.

Speaking as an invited plenary session at the , Education Futures founder Dr. John Moravec noted:

Inside and beyond formal organizations, we’re seeing a new type of worker emerge. And they are becoming visible in our shift from industrial work to creative and innovative work.

This is a world where our fundamental relationships are becoming much more complex and creative; where we seek out synergies; where our worldviews are designed together; where change happens so fast, we can’t keep up; and, where these changes are occurring on a global level. The people that can navigate these spaces are knowmads – creative, imaginative, and innovative people who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. They create new value, contextualize what they know and what they can do to solve new problems. We see them as freelancers, contract workers, and even as intrapreneurs – mainstream employees taking risks within organizations to create positive, new value. When they cannot create new value, it is time to move on — and mobility created by the global economy and social and knowledge networks makes this happen.

Moravec’s talk is summarized as a mind map:

The Youth Summit was established in 2013 by the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, to provide a platform for the concerns of youth and empower young people to promote their ideas on development. Outputs from the summit are intended to inform the development of the next World Development Report and influence youth-oriented policy development around the world.

Enabling creative schools – Education Futures Podcast

In the latest episode of the Education Futures Podcast, Kelly and John Moravec share highlights from their recent #EFReads Facebook/Twitter book club discussion of Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education. They connect major themes from the conversation to an interactive exercise to sketch what schools are for and what curricular experiences should be embedded so that all students in all grades receive what they need for successful futures.

We would love to have your voice in these conversations! To encourage participation, we are offering a special promotion within the next few podcast episodes. Listen for the details, and email your response to John and Kelly at info@educationfutures.com for your chance to win something extraordinary!

NEW: Once you’ve listened to this episode, why not earn an hour of continuing professional education? After all, you’ve already done half the work. Just go to educationfutures.com/learn, and sign up for the Moodle course that corresponds with this episode. After you post your thoughts in response to the questions we have for you in the “sound off” forum, you can download your certificate of completion.

It’s free, and it’s our gift to you for listening and for supporting us. Simply visit educationfutures.com/learn to earn your free continuing professional education credit.

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New episodes are released every two weeks. Here’s how to follow along:

Introducing the Education Futures Podcast

Welcome to the Education Futures Podcast, a new series curated by John Moravec and Kelly Killorn-Moravec.

What is your vision of the future of education? What stories do you have to share? What great examples and practices already exist? In this podcast, we share what we have learned, connect with others, and interview thought leaders who provoke us to think differently in education and human development.

Listen to a preview trailer here:

Voices we will interview include top authors and thought leaders in the realm of education, and we will weave in our own thoughts and opinions, too. Your participation is invited! Email your stories to the hosts at info@educationfutures.com.

New episodes will be released every two weeks, beginning August 25, with our first episode on unintended consequences in Utah and Florida. Here’s how to follow along:

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

Data collection phase completed in landmark study in Uruguay

What now?

This is a question to help us think about what we want in education – and what we want to get out of technologies in education. It is the driving question behind the ¿Y agora qué? research project, funded by the Uruguayan National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) and Fundación Ceibal.

Serving as the lead investigator and visiting professor at Universidad ORT Uruguay, Education Futures founder John Moravec is collaborating with ORT graduate student Verónica Zorrilla de San Martín to ask, can we build a collective capacity to transform the use of technologies in primary education in Uruguay? Utilizing the World Café action research method to engage with over 350 participants, the project is conceived as an invitation to co-create solutions with all stakeholders in the educational process (opinion leaders, collaborative institutions, governments, teachers, students to ask:

  • What are our “bold” and “innovative” ideas to better use new technologies for primary education in Uruguay?
  • What are some possible actions all members of our communities (teachers, parents, students, administrators, neighbors, etc.) can take to collaborate in creating a positive future for primary schools in Uruguay??
  • Can we come together as a community to transform learning? Why? Why not? How can leaders facilitate the growth of a collective capacity?

Moravec states:

What really distinguishes this study is that we are working from the bottom-up, bringing teachers, students, parents, and other community members together to envision new education futures. Too often –and particularly in Latin America– educational policy is dictated from the top-down with little input from teachers, parents, and students. This study turns that relationship upside down and asks these typically underrepresented stakeholders, what now?

Moravec and Zorrilla note that over the past 9 years, Uruguay has implemented a 1:1 computing initiative, providing each primary-level learner with a tablet or laptop (known as Plan Ceibal). Recent research has found, however, that the mere presence of these resources have no increased educational achievement. So, what now? Utilizing these tools in new ways, and building from the bottom up, can we build a collective capacity to use these technologies innovatively in education?

The data collection phase closed May 31. A final report will be published in September, 2016 on the website y-ahora-que.uy.

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A theory for invisible learning

Note: This is the second of a three-part series on a new theory for invisible learning.

Theory for Invisible Learning

When Cristóbal Cobo and I set out to write the book Aprendizaje Invisible (“Invisible learning”) five years ago, we sought to take a 360° and 3D view of the educational landscape—with an eye toward the future. We found the gap between formal learning and informal and non-formal modes of learning is becoming increasingly apparent.

We initially structured invisible learning as a metatheory, which recognizes that most of the learning we do is “invisible” —that is, it is through informal, non-formal, and serendipitous experiences rather than through formal instruction. We learn alone, or in a group, through individual and shared experiences. We learn more through experimentation, exploration, and through the consequences of enabling serendipity. Even though we cannot measure the knowledge in our heads, the consensus is that the vast majority of our knowledge is developed through invisible or informal means (see esp. this classic article by Jay Cross).

Invisible learning is not a theory for learning, itself. It is an end point or state of learning that emerges when we remove structures that control or direct our experiences. Therefore:

The Theory for Invisible Learning is that we learn more, and do so invisibly, when we separate structures of control that restrict freedom and self-determination from learning experiences.

The purpose of controlling an educational experience is to make learning visible. It is built on distrust of the learner – the false assumption that students will not learn unless they are told what to learn. In this sense, invisible learning is the end product of a theory which predicts that learning may blossom when we eliminate authoritarian control or direction of a learning experience by an “other” (i.e., teacher).

Removing structures of control opens possibilities. The end outcomes or goals of an experience are neither dictated nor determined from the start, but instead emerge as learning develops. Such experiences include free play, self-organized learning communities, authentic problem-based learning, and experimentation to acquire new knowledge.

Theory for Invisible Learning is focused on the development of personal knowledge: blends of tacit and explicit elements that embrace a portfolio of skills such as cooperation, empathy, and critical thinking as much as retaining facts. The implication is that there is no master template for enabling invisible learning, but rather we need to attend to the formation of an ecology of options for individuals to find their own ways. This suggests a growing need for bottom-up approaches to learning. By removing the rigidity of top-down control, and placing trust in learners, invisible learning can be made visible.


Posts in this series

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

Manifesto 15: Where do we go now?

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In an webinar discussion, as part of the IDEC@Internet digital symposium, Drs. Kelly Killorn-Moravec and John Moravec discussed their findings from World Café conversations at the European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC) annual meeting in Warsaw in August, 2015. In these conversations, they invited the EUDEC community to provide feedback and insight on how to best actualize the principles enshrined in Manifesto 15.

The following notes present a summary of our conversations, together with actionable “next steps” that will be worked on by the Manifesto 15 community and shared further at the IDEC@EUDEC conference in June, 2016.

Question 1: What good examples or good practices already exist?

Participants in this discussion identified many practices that currently exist which fit within with framework of the Manifesto 15 principles. In regard to educators, these include growing the number of teachers who are questioning and seeking answers for change, sharing good ideas with one another, and living the principles of Manifesto 15.

Current good practices specific to learners include engaging students emotionally, socially, and mentally by creating a physical space conducive for learning and developing within it an environment of respect and transparency through providing opportunities for moving from child-centered toward child-emergent learning, allowing for personal choice in learning, connecting to students’ previous experiences and interests, and participating in projects involving collaboration and teamwork. Specific examples included free-schooling methods, “flipped” classroom instruction, students as teachers where the teacher is a partner or mentor, mixed-age groups, developing a school government system, providing opportunities for social entrepreneurships during which students learn through engaging with the community, student education retreats, student-developed startup weekends funded through foundation resources, Social Impact Awards, and the development of learning communities where participants are both teachers and learners simultaneously and on equal terms and are engaged through mixed disciplines and subjects, linked to society’s needs. Resources for development currently being used included Ted Talk videos and discussion, MOOCs, networking and collaborating through EDUFORUM, and systemic modeling of teaching and learning methodologies.

Question 2: Where do you want to go in the future?

Ideas for a future vision of education were also considered. These centered on the concepts of learning environment and relationship building. Within the topic of learning environment, participants suggested ideas such as changing the model to allow for more “knowmadic” experiences, removing compulsion from schooling, providing free opportunities for education and learning, classes with mixed-age groups, differentiated settings for learning, small class sizes to encourage student cooperation and collaboration, development of centers for projects on different topics, student choice in course offerings and learning opportunities, developing one’s own sense of learning, students leading teaching with teachers serving as advisors or mentors, development of soft skills, providing a space for failure and supporting students in their attempts to try and fail, developing a safe space for communication, and cultivating an environment of trust where intercultural respect exists and everyone is tolerant of one another.

Similarly, participants identified the importance and advantage of integrating “micro worlds” through developing relationships between students, parents, schools, and communities. Through this interconnected community, experiences can be shared and ideas may be communicated; global and transnational learning communities can be developed; and established resources (universities, communities, libraries, texts, etc.) may be connected and shared with interested learners. Finally, needs were identified to further develop teacher preparation coursework to support these ideas and the principles of Manifesto 15, while deliberately incorporating technology in non-invasive, “invisible” ways.

Question 3: What are our next steps to make this happen and what can we share with future Manifesto 15 groups?

As participants discussed what they envisioned for the future, several next steps emerged. First, developing opportunities to promote, explain, discuss, and further clarify the principles of Manifesto 15 through development of a glossary of terms, translation into new languages, synthesis of new ideas, and authentic redistribution through such means as social media presence, stickers, bumper stickers, magnets, notebooks, calendars, t-shirts, and short video clips highlighting each principle. Further, curating the principles of Manifesto 15 within communities and online could be done through a group of “Manifesto 15 Ambassadors” who would share and promote ideas, co-educate one another, and involve kids (we are already moving forward with this idea and will have an update soon).

Second, participants suggested identifying more good practices for application, such as deconstructing the myths in education and sharing the realities of schools; being examples of openness and trust; sharing the experiences of what has been done, what is wanted, and what is needed; using every opportunity to learn; and taking time for reflection and summary.

Third, the importance of creating communities through a shared trust was also discussed. This might be done by connecting with – and involving – schools, businesses, communities, and industries through shared communication, education, and decision-making; organizing and gathering people to produce impactful collective action; and engaging teachers within various contents (English, vocational, humanities, social sciences, etc.) in discussion around the principles of Manifesto 15.

Finally, it was suggested that we might involve political groups and influence decision-makers to create alternatives to what currently exists. Examples of this include taking steps to change teacher education programs, merging formal and informal education, and developing opportunities for entrepreneurial skills development, and creating a union to advocate for children’s rights.

SOMECE and Education Futures announce inter-institutional agreement

MEXICO CITY (November 10, 2015)– SOMECE, the Mexican Society for Computing in Education, today announced an inter-institutional partnership with Minneapolis-based Education Futures LLC to further academic activities and professional development aimed at education, training, and the dissemination of research, particularly in regard to further developing the movement for change that is based on the principles espoused in Manifesto 15.

Speaking at their international virtual symposium this morning, SOMECE president Luis Lach stated, “this partnership with Education Futures allows us to rethink the use of computers and other technologies in our schools and universities.” Added Education Futures founder and Manifesto 15 lead author John Moravec, “with this agreement in place, we can start to leverage North-South and South-North ideas and resources toward generating solutions that will benefit all students and learning organizations.”

Read Manifesto 15 online at http://manifesto15.org.

Released at the beginning of this year, Manifesto 15 is a public declaration of a vision for education futures, based on what the authors learned through their own research and experiences. It issues challenges such as, “if ‘technology’ is the answer, what was the question?” And, it boldly states that “1.0 schools cannot educate 3.0 kids,” while providing principles for creating meaningful solutions. As an open document, the manifesto has been translated by volunteers into 18 language (to date), annotated with visual graphics, streamlined with a version for kids, and has appeared in print and digital media worldwide.

The challenges we face are centered on fundamental problems. Moravec elaborated, “we separate kids by age and grade, we manage schools in a top-down style, we operate within industrial hours, and teachers hold absolute power and authority over students — these are part of a mainstream structure implemented around the world in schools that is not backed by research. We’ve assumed that if we don’t tell students what to learn, they will not learn anything at all.” Moreover, he continues, “we’ve lost touch with WHAT we are educating for, WHY we do it, and FOR WHOM this is all intended to benefit.”

“While we may not be able to predict the future with precision, we can at least set the vision for the type of potential futures we can create with others,” said Lach. “Manifesto 15 is not a mirror to the past, but it is a prism that takes a diverse spectrum of ideas and melds them into a coherent vision that helps us to rethink how we approach educational technologies. With this vision, we now have clearer pathways to make change happen today.”

SOMECE-Education Futures collaboration announced at SOMECE's virtual symposium in Mexico City

SOMECE-Education Futures collaboration announced at SOMECE’s virtual symposium in Mexico City

SOMECE is a Mexican non-profit that, since 1986, promotes the widespread use of information and communications technologies at all levels and in all forms of education, training, and human resource development. http://www.somece.org.mx

Education Futures LLC is a global education research and development agency with experience in collaborating with creatives, thought leaders, innovators, and learning organizations to create new opportunities for human capital development. https://www.educationfutures.com

Contact: Education Futures, info@educationfutures.com