Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blurring the Lines between Formal and Informal Learning

As I work on implementing Apple's Challenge Based Learning Model for my social studies classes this fall, I continually review some of the goals I hope to achieve through the process:

*Authentic connection with multiple disciplines.

*Leveraging of 24/7 access to up-to-date technology tools and resources.

*Use of Web 2.0 tools for organizing, collaborating, and sharing.

*Focus on universal challenges with local solutions.

*Requirement that students do something rather than just learn about something.

*Documentation of the learning experience from challenge to solution.

I am struck by the way these aspirations transcend the physical boundaries and mind sets of traditional learning:

  • Learning takes place during the school "year" (parts of ten months).

  • Teachers facilitate learning in the classroom during an allotted time on a "school day." This is supplemented with "home work," which is then returned to school during a school day, etc.

  • Only an exceptionally driven or socially dysfunctional individual would seek to learn as much on a snow day or school holiday. But "free time" could be enjoyably spent online with Facebook, YouTube, Skyping, etc.

I love the way that the Challenge Based Model blurs the distinction between instructional "lessons" and social media. I think many people all over the globe understand that information can be gathered, knowledge can be attained, and mastery achieved without resorting to traditional institutions. If only schools would more urgently grapple with this idea. If so, they might avoid the fate of going the way of the postal service and the daily newspaper-- features of American life that seemed so permanent and slid so quickly toward irrelevancy.

"Seattle Cloud Cover" Flick Creative Commons Photo by Jim Carson

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