According to an article by Chris Dede, a professor in learning technologies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, in the US publication Education Week, 21st century education requires ‘lifewide learning’.
The article argues that: ‘Educational transformation is coming not because of the increasing ineffectiveness of schools in meeting society’s needs – through that’s a good reason – but due to their growing unaffordability. Events of the last few years paint a bleak picture of the financial viability of schools as we know them. We can no longer support an educational system based on inefficient use of expensive human labor (sic). These inefficiencies are not simply within the walls of the school, but reflect our lost opportunities to help students learn in all the hours and all the places they spend time outside of classrooms.
‘New media are at the heart of innovative models for education: empowering new forms of learning and teaching while simultaneously contributing to the obsolescence of traditional schools/universities as educational vehicles… Modern technologies provide ways of coordinating such a distributed system of learning/teaching, so that teachers can both benefit from and guide the efforts of others who help students learn outside of the school’s location and hours…
‘In the past five years, social media, immersive interfaces from the entertainment industry and ubiquitous mobile broadband devices have coalesced in powerful ways to empower and integrate learning in and out of school. Too often, I have seen educational technologies used to put “old wine in new bottles.” Now, if we seize the moment, we not only can have new wine – such as peer mentoring anytime, anyplace – but also can move beyond the “bottle” of the stand-alone school to lifewide learning.’
Comment: The case for lifelong learning has long been accepted – along with the valuable part that learning technologies play in delivering that lifelong learning.
The concept of lifewide learning is not so well documented, nor so generally accepted. Yet, again, today’s and tomorrow’s learning technologies – especially mobile learning – have a significant part to play in making available new learning experiences to widen learners’ horizons. According to the principles of ‘classical education’, this should make the recipients ‘more rounded individuals’ with a broader outlook on life.
Of course, this could only happen via the education community. No organisation in the corporate world could ever justify spending its money on providing ‘learning for learning’s sake’, could it? Besides, what could it do if it ever started employing well educated, ‘rounded individuals with a mature, broader outlook on.life’?