Notes on Allan Collins’ Talk at TC

| May 19, 2010

Last Thursday Dr. Allan Collins spoke at Teachers College about his newly released book, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology:

He opened his talk with stories of students who are excelling in ways outside the traditional bounds of school. He advocated that this outlet of learning is where technology is having most impact, in that it is encouraging and cultivating self directed learners and the book is a look at what is going on with respect to these manifestations of learning.

Building upon this argument that learning is extending beyond school, he shared a slide riddled with the incompatibilities between schooling and technology, some included:

  • Teacher as the expert vs. diverse sources
  • Standardized assessment vs specialization
  • Knowledge in the head vs. reliance on resources
  • Learning by absorption vs learning by doing
  • Coverage vs knowledge explosion
  • Just in case learning vs just in time learning
  • He then went through a historical overview of the different eras of education including the Industrial Revolution (apprenticeship era), Knowledge Revolution (universal schooling) and up to the present Life Long Learning era. He continued to talk about how schools will become less important as we continue to enter the Life Long Learning phase. He outlined how the educational system has evolved as a preface to the future places of learning. So he talked about such changing characteristics of education as responsibility, pedagogy, assessment, location, culture and relationships and broke each one down into the different forms that corresponded with the learning periods.

    He then looked at both the Pros and Cons of how the learning in the Life Long era will impact larger issues. His pro list included that it will provide more engagement, less competition, allow more customization, increase individual responsibility, he also focused on using the example of the rise in homeschooling to support the notion that the current schooling system is depreciating. Collins’ list of Cons for this system of learning included issues around, equity, citizenship,diversity, commercialization, and isolation.

    His projections for the future of schooling included a system of specialized certifications that was emphasized would be taken when READY, and not a mandatory or compulsory next step. This system would also allow for multiple ways to get certified based on ones own learning preference in that it could be at home or in learning centers or online

    He also projected that we need to rethink what is important to learn and how to ask new research questions that will reform the tech world to help foster and support manifestations of self directed learning. His ideas on whats important to learn included new literacies, negotiation for a globalized networked world, less memorization, and encouragement of habits of mind.

    Collins ended by summing up the Life Long Learning era as one that has three imperative characteristics, it embodies learning that is:

  • Customized
  • Interactive
  • Learner controlled