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14 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 18 μέρες)

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l e a r n
i n g



1



Dougald Hine

Co
-
founder of the
School of Everything

Page
3

Annie Weekes

Home educator

Page 6

David Jennings

Consultant in online
learning
and discovery

Page 4


Tony Hall
Photographer, learning
evangelist

and
reluctant teacher

Page 5


Fred
Garne
tt

London Knowledge Lab
& Learner
-
Generated
Contexts Research
Group

Page 10

Ollie Nørsterud
Gardener

Enterprise learning
entrepr
eneur

Page 9

featuring interviews with

January 2011


Unplugged!


Conversations about Learning


Dick Moore

Consultant & former Director of Technology, Ufi/learndirect

Page 7


PLUS

David Gauntlett

Professor of Media & Communications, author of
Making is Connecting

Page 7






a g i l e l e a r n i n g

2

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

Improvisation,
imagination


and convers
a-
tion

The interviews in this newspaper
were conducted by David Jennings
and originally published on his blog
between June and

December 2010


see
http://alchemi.co.uk/URL

for the
online versions.

When I did the first of these inte
r-
views, I didn’t see it becoming part of
a newspaper. The journey from here
to there has been a story not so
much
of Eureka moments but of a gradual
series of small, improvised steps.
Producing the newspaper has been
just one more of those steps, a sta
g-
ing point to help reflect on the dire
c-
tion of travel and decide where to go
next.

I’m incredibly grateful to th
e i
n-
terviewees for their time and i
n-
sights, and especially to the members
of the School of Everything’s “U
n-
plugged” group who have further
distilled the original versions and
helped present them in an alternative
format that makes new connections
and stren
gthens growing ones.

The rough plan I sketched earlier
for building a “lightweight learning”
community included a Semantic
MediaWiki implementation rather
than a newspaper. But let’s wind
back a little bit further still. In 2009,
my friend and regular ass
ociate Seb
Schmoller suggested we start to think
about what we should do in the
event that the clients for our co
n
sul
t-
ing work


predominantly pu
b
lic
sector education organisations

should have their budgets savagely
cut or abolished. The first instinct,
r
ather than to re
-
think our own bus
i-
ness model, was to treat this budge
t-
lessness as just another pro
b
lem that
we could help with as co
n
sultants.
Hmmm.

So began an effort to research
what had hitherto been an une
x-
a
m
ined intuition: that a lot of lear
n-
ing tec
hnology developments were
throwing money at heavyweight
infrastructure and over
-
complicated
content
-
development that did more
to constrain learning than to liberate
it. When money is tight, we reasoned,
much can still be done using what’s
available for rel
atively little or no
cost online:



collaboration environments, from
build
-
your
-
own social networks
to wikis and even old
-
fashioned
email lists, and



free learning resources, from
Khan Academy and iTunes U to
the Open University’s Ope
n-
Learn initiative and w
hat’s avai
l-
able on the open web.

Using lightweight, low
-
cost tools,
we felt, should also free up organis
a-
tions and groups to prototype and
experiment with alternative a
p-
proaches


also to put learners more
genuinely in control of their own
learning, tappi
ng into their deeper
motivations at the same time as gi
v-
ing them scope to be more playful
and creative.

There’s no unique insight here,
and many have been making these
points for years.

But usable examples and gui
d-
ance in the areas I work are still hard
to find. There’s a sense that lots of
people are starting to come to similar
conclusions from different starting
points. Sometimes they’ve put a
name and a discourse to what they’re
doing


like “Edupunk” in US hig
h-
er education


while others are just
feel
ing their way towards sol
u
tions
to their immediate problems.

We’re at a moment where these
actions are starting to knit together. I
decided to interview some people
who were doing interesting things in
disparate areas, as my contribution to
doing the kni
tting.

Dick Moore was my first inte
r-
viewee. At that stage, I expected most
of the interviews to focus on the
combination of methods and tec
h-
nologies that Dick talks about. The
last of the interviews, with Ollie

r
sterud Gardener, returns to sim
i-
lar terri
tory, but along the way I r
e-
learned that lesson that we all pay
lipservice to, but too often forget in
practice: it’s not about the techno
l
o-
gy.

Knitting people and ideas t
o
get
h-
er takes time. It’s all about rel
a
tio
n-
ships. At around the same time that
Seb S
chmoller and I began our di
s-
cussions, I started attending the U
n-
plugged meetups in the Royal Fest
i-
val Hall. Those two strands and the
series of interviews in this paper
gradually twined together. Dougald
Hine and Tony Hall are founder
members of the meetup
s. David
Gauntlett was first a guest and then a
member, while Fred Garnett has
become a member and Ollie Ga
r
de
n-
er an overseas visitor since I i
n
te
r-
viewed each of them. So, for me a
n-
yway, these interviews are short clips
from a broader, more far
-
reaching
co
nversational process.

Context is all

Fred Garnett gives an overview of
this series of interviews and what
they say about the state of learning

Prescience, Collapse and
Reflective Conversations

This newspaper presents some
conversations about learning whic
h
promote the generic idea of being
agile in the face of new constraints.
The origins for these reflections lie
within David Jennings and Seb
Schmoller earlier concern that their
consultancy skills might not be in
demand when the public sector su
f-
fered cut
s whilst, back in 2006,
Do
u
gald Hine and Paul Miller wo
n-
dered what might become useful
after a major global economic crisis.

From these concerns firstly the
School of Everything emerged and
then School of Everything U
n-
plugged allowed the following co
n-
vers
ations to occur.

Some of the original thoughts,
rooted in creating new ways of using
technology, were that lightweight
tools might enable an agile approach
to learning to emerge; an iterative
learning process linking learners to
their goals dynamically. A
gile might
also allow a scaling
-
down of learning
to match the human experience r
a-
ther than the scaling up of instit
u-
tions attempting to engage with f
i-
nancial opportunities that globalis
a-
tion seemed to offer.

Small Pieces Loosely
Joined

Dick Moore takes h
is unde
r
stan
d-
ing of the Agile Learning pro
c
ess
from the Agile Manifesto (2001) f
o-
cussing on the notion of ‘the ability to
change specific learning goals as
issues arise.’ However whilst he va
l-
ues agile as a contextualising process
based on what he calls ‘a
gile core
skills’ and iterative learning, he is
cautious about whether agile actually
brings about deep learning.

David Jennings takes this view of
agile core skills deeper by looking at
how we might change the relatio
n-
ship with the authority of the teach
er,
offering a vision of learners co
n
trac
t-
ing in to learning, using the ba
s
ket of
techniques that Agile might offer to
self
-
organise their learning.

Agile seems to offer a small pieces
loosely joined approach, exemplified
by David Gauntlett, who is a seri
ous
advocate of the convivial use of
LEGO as part of his ‘making is co
n-
necting’ work. David is concerned to
create a social process of learning
that promotes active engagement
with the environment and he uses
tools to enable collaborative learning
to occur
. He also sees consequences
beyond the classroom, by engaging
with Transition Towns for example.

Fred Garnett focuses on how that
ability to craft learning collabor
a
tiv
e-
ly requires a set of brokering skills in
teachers, which are not commonly
part of thei
r professional skillset. He
sees this as part of their responsibility
to enable learners to generate their
own contexts for learning.

School? That’s a weird
idea!

Tony Hall, however, doesn’t see
teaching as a craft, he sees craft as
learning. Tony is int
erested in how
you enable learning in extra
-
institutional contexts through co
n-
versations around people’s interests.
As Tony is a photographer, he works
with people’s pictures, he is inte
r
es
t-
ed in the person who takes the pi
c-
ture, and the image is a way int
o
conversations about their reality.
Ivan Illich’s De
-
schooling Society
ideas are another thread running
through these Agile conversations,
reaching an apotheosis with home
-
educators Annie and Guy who don’t
distinguish between learning and
not
-
learning. Th
ey see that learning is
always improvised around interests
as they occur at any time of day; so
much so that Annie now thinks that
it is school that seem like a weird
idea. Whereas Ollie Gardener has
applied social networking tools to
project and knowledge

management
within organisations to try and e
n
a-
ble organisational learning, esp
e
cially
peer
-
to
-
peer learning as part of using
their NoddlePod service. Ollie is
applying emergent learning tec
h-
niques to institutions as she doesn’t
believe you can ‘develop’ e
mployees,
they need to understand their needs
and drive their own learning.

Agile: The Basket Case
for Learning

So Agile Learning might best be
seen a basket of techniques, tools,
attitudes and processes, mentioned in
passing here, which, used respons
i-
bl
y and sensitively, might enable
better self
-
organisation of learning.
Agile offers a de
-
construction of ed
u-
cation into its miscellaneous parts
which allows the possibility that
learners can re
-
aggregate the relevant
small pieces to meet their self
-
identifi
ed learning goals or interests.
At a time of social and economic
collapse Agile offers fresh ways of
thinking about learning that might
enable new socially
-
useful modes of
learning to emerge.


Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.
Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

3

Learning, rel
a-
tionships and
assets

Dougald Hine brought a wide
range
of interests and experiences to his
role as co
-
founder of the School of
Everything, an internet startup
launched in 2008 with the aim to
connect people who can teach to
people who want to learn

In 2009 Dougald and Tony Hall
started the weekly series
of meetings
about learning from which a few of
these interviews grew. And this
discussion took place in our usual
spot looking out over the River
Thames from the Royal Festival
Hall.

David Jennings: What ambitions
did you have in creating School of
Everyth
ing?

Dougald Hine : I’d been reading
Ivan Illich’s
De
-
Schooling Society

and
getting very into Illich generally. I’d
met Paul Miller (now School of Ev
e-
rything CEO), who had heard of
Illich via his work on a pamphlet
called the Pro
-
Am Revolution.

There was a

sense that a number
of us were rediscovering these older
ideas about the possibility and the
desirability of meeting more of our
needs outside of prescriptive instit
u-
tions.

Paul and I and the other School of
Everything founders originally
crossed paths th
rough our involv
e-
ment in a weekly email newsletter
called Pick Me Up.

Pick Me Up was a recipe for fun.
To write a story for it, you had to be
actively involved in making som
e-
thing happen. You told the story of
what you’d done in a way that might
encourage
others to use what you
had shared to help them do som
e-
thing.

That’s how we stumbled into this
idea that it was more fun to use the
Internet to make stuff happen in the
real world than to spend more and
more of your life in front of a screen.

In 2004, peopl
e were still thinking
about the Internet as something
which virtualised more and more
areas of our lives. So the Internet
changed the world by enabling you
to shop and bank online, instead of
going to shops and banks.

School of Everything was using
the Int
ernet to change things in a
different direction. We felt we could
put into practice, on a grand scale,
the kind of ideas that maybe sounded
utopian when Illich was writing
about learning webs in the early ‘70s.

We drew firstly from ideas from
the sixties a
nd seventies of deschoo
l-
ing society and the Free University at
Stanford


all these experiments in
self
-
organised lear
n
ing that had
flourished a generation earlier


and
secondly on a model of using the
Internet to make stuff ha
p
pen in the
real world.

At
the centre of the School of
Everything model, there is still a
teacher
-
and
-
learner couple


how
are your ambitions reflected in that?

We started out with a motto
which was “Everyone has something
to learn, everyone has something to
teach.” The traditional
model of ed
u-
cation creates an artificial scarcity of
people who can teach us, by only
looking to professional teachers who
have the skills to stand up in front of
a class of people who don't want to
be there and keep them under co
n-
trol. Our alternative is
to recognise
the abundance of skills and
know
l
edge and experience that is out
there in every neighbourhood, in
every workplace.

So the starting point for the School
of Everything site was how you i
n-
dex the wealth of knowledge and
experience that is around
you. First
we built profiles where you could list
the things that you would be willing
to teach or to share. We got stuck
working out how to present that
profile without falling back into the
teacher/learner model. The first s
o
l
u-
tion we had was that everyb
ody who
signs up has both a teaching and a
learning profile.

That gets you part of the way
there. But there is definitely a space
in the middle, which it was harder to
structure. Maybe there is something
that happens quite naturally and
informally if you g
et a group of pe
o-
ple together face
-
to
-
face


a fluid
shifting of roles


which is harder to
emulate online.

The direction we’re moving in
now, where School of Everything
supports people getting together in
groups, might be one way to find that
heart of re
ally informal self
-
organised learning.

What connections do you see b
e-
tween School of Everything and
your work outside?

One way that it connects is
through “asset
-
based” approaches.
Asset
-
Based Community Develo
p-
ment offers an alternative to conve
n-
tional dev
elopment, with its te
n
de
n-
cy to define people in terms of their
needs, their deficit. You can see these
same patterns in regeneration, in
international development, and in
the marketing culture which defines
us as consumers, as a source of d
e-
mand. Against t
hat, the asset
-
based
approach says, “Let’s start the other
way round, by looking what is a
l-
ready present in a situation


the
skills, the possibility, the resources,
the experience


and treating that as
something that might be being u
n-
dervalued”. Actually

there is already
an abundance there.

School of Everything was a
p-
proaching education from that pe
r-
spective.

On the first day that we sat down
to work properly on School of Ev
e
r
y-
thing in September 2006, I reme
m
ber
saying two things. One was that I
thought
that by the time we had got
this working there was every chance
that there would be a major global
economic crisis (you only remember
the predictions that come true!). But I
added that what we were building
would be more and not less useful in
a world whic
h had been changed by
that.

Because universities and schools
and colleges are very expensive and
inefficient ways to organise learning.
And because, while I talk about li
v-
ing in a time of abundance, actually,
the culture we are living in is cha
r
a
c-
terised b
y artificial scarcity as well.
While we feel there is an abundance
of knowledge and skills, that abu
n-
dance is somehow not visible to
mainstream policy making and the
way learning happens in the educ
a-
tion system.

Are you just switching from one
institutiona
l footing to another


from the state
-
guided models of
Higher Education and Further Ed
u-
cation to a new model that runs on
Google apps in the cloud and r
e-
sources from iTunes U?

I think it goes both ways. Last
year I was part of a discussion with
senior Hig
her Education figures for
Demos’s The Edgeless University
project. At the end of it I said to the
guy from Demos who was running
the project, “That felt like being in a
room with a bunch of record co
m
p
a-
ny executives in 1999.”

The HE people were being quit
e
complacent because they said, “You
enthusiasts for technology see ed
u
c
a-
tion as a transactional process of
pushing units of knowledge to lear
n-
ers, whereas actually much of the
value of education is in the relatio
n-
ships with the people teaching them
and wi
th the institutions they belong
to.”

What they were ignoring was that
you can also achieve a richness of
relationship through the scaling
down that technology makes poss
i-
ble. Universities sit at a scale which
might have been optimal to where
the world was
at 30 or 50 years ago,
when the costs of organising and
finding other people were quite high.

As networks make those costs
lower, not only is it true that you can
get a better lecture from iTunes U
than if you went to

the lecture theatre
(the scaling up

side of it). But you can
also find a richer and more engaged
environment in which to learn closely
with others and build relationship
through coming to a meetup like
those we organise in the Royal Fest
i-
val Hall than you might find going to
a university se
minar.

Maybe that is a slightly utopian
account. But I think that there is a
risk that institutions which only see
the threat from technology as a sca
l-
ing up to the global supply of high
quality content, are missing the fact
that there is also this scaling

down to
something that is more satisfying on
a human scale than people’s exper
i-
ences of universities as institutions
tend to be.

Alchemy and
Agility

After David Jennings interviewed
David Gauntlett last summer, a
curious Gauntlett decided to turn
the tabl
es on his interviewer,
starting by trying to pin down what
Jennings meant by Agile Learning

Rather than being tightly defined
I see Agile Learning as a family of
approaches, in which self
-
organising
by learners looks promising, that
offer a response to th
e unprecedented
circumstances we find ourselves in
now.

People Learning Something: a ‘wordle’ representation of the most
commonly used words across the eight intervi
ews




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

4

Everything Unp
lugged issue, 2011

Firstly, a lot of money has been
pumped into grandiose internet
-
based learning initiatives. Although
the small
-
pieces
-
loosely
-
joined ethos
and Web 2.0 approaches have been
with us for years, the inter
ventionist
public sector tendency to Think Big
vastly overestimated what top
-
down
initiatives can attain.

Secondly, “agile” is about looking
at emergent, adaptive learning in the
commons of the Internet. If we chart
these flexible, low
-
overhead beha
v-
iours
and understand the contexts
where each is effective, we can start
to map out more bottom
-
up learning
experiences. As they work with the
grain of learners' habits, and are
rooted in people's intuitive a
p-
proaches to using the net for disco
v-
ery and problem
-
so
lving, they're
more likely to “stick”. Giving people
the power to self
-
organise the goals,
methods and the degree and timing
of their collaboration with other
learners, enables agile learning.

Consulting with Author
i-
ty

Agile Learning potentially chan
g-
es t
he power relationships in lear
n-
ing. We're used to contexts where the
agenda, environment and the met
h-
ods are managed and pr
e
determined;
why? Learners now have access to a
massive range of tools and resources
for learning and can build new
knowledge and ski
lls as it suits.
Learners won't always be the best
judges, but when they’ve got som
e-
thing they want help or advice with it
might become more like co
n
sulting a
doctor, taking such profe
s
sional a
d-
vice and follow
-
up ser
i
ously. They
might say, “We’ve got as fa
r as we
can with what we're trying to do,
now we'd like some direction, or
help.” So let’s recognise these emer
g-
ing online learning behaviours but
accept we'll only get so far with those
alone. A bit of well
-
placed and timely
coaching can significantly imp
rove
on what people pick up on their own.

Reframing Teaching

Teaching remains a matter of
judgement, and often of on
-
the
-
spot
improvisation, about when to exe
r-
cise authority. But the framing and
boundaries of that authority can be
tamed to ensure that tea
chers would
bend to public interest, as Illich su
g-
gests, rather than perpetuating their
professional interests. Howard Jaco
b-
son said recently that ‘authority is
intrinsic to education, and the fact
that authority is fallible doesn't
change this,’ but we ca
n frame that
authority to lead us into a different
space.


Let Them Eat Google

If we give people Google, or just a
computer screen like Sugata Mitra's
Hole in the Wall, they’ll figure out
the rest. Intuitively we feel that if we
need to reframe what teachi
ng and
learning is about, then we should
leave kids alone with a computer;
that's the space that Agile Learning
needs to explore and chart. For e
x-
ample, before Web 2.0 services like
del.icio.us, when I was on the board
of an independent cinema, I adv
o
ca
t-
ed

the idea of extending our ed
u
c
a-
tional activities to include curated
web resources about our specialist
film seasons. The educator might
become a curator, a facilitator, hel
p-
ing to select the right tools, identif
y-
ing when creating a wiki might be
useful, o
r suggesting “you might like
to try…”

Contracting In

Learners might “contract in” the
teaching, support and authoritative
guidance when they want, rather
than it being planned for them. In
this respect School of Everything
looks promising as they're introd
u
c-
ing features to support groups of
learners. Originally individual lear
n-
ers found and hired individual
teachers, a market led by what teac
h-
ers offer; generic, popular stuff, learn
French, learn bass guitar. With self
-
organising groups there's scope for
of
ferings to become demand
-
led.
Let's say I want to be able to apprec
i-
ate French literature and films. I'm
unlikely to be able to persuade a
teacher to provide a specially
-
tailored
course unless I pay. With a group
sharing my interests we're well
-
placed to c
ommission some bespoke
support. The fact the teacher’s co
n-
tracted in doesn't stop them exerci
s-
ing authority where it's needed; like a
licensed counselor. I'm not sure how
these prescriptions might apply to
schools’ powerful apparatus of disc
i-
pline and orde
rliness designed to
keep kids off the street and make
them workforce fodder. But I am
interested in opening up the space
around the periphery of institutions,
which might retain an anchoring role.

Basket of Techniques

Agile Learning is broader than
these

prescriptions; a bundle of loos
e-
ly connected methods that work to
differing degrees in different co
n-
texts. What ties them together is the
intent of being a low
-
cost, learner
-
driven, flexible basket of techniques.
But there's no manifesto, no tight
definit
ion, no trademark. It's an open
enquiry and enterprise, which
through a community of practice
could be taken to school, perhaps
initially through Free Schools. Brin
g-
ing together this basket of agile tec
h-
niques could make them look more
“serious” than when
seen as sca
t-
tered and small
-
scale.


Tony Hall Te
m-
porary Heading

Tony Hall is a photographer who
became interested in learning
through community photography
projects with young adults. He
created informa
l learning
environments and allowed learners
the freedom to set their own agenda.
With the increased accessibility of
technology, he describes his interests
as "thinking about sustainable
learning communities, shared
learning in public spaces, using
social

media".

Tony doesn’t see himself as a
teacher. “I got into teaching through
not wanting to teach,” he says. “A
few people in a youth centre were
interested in something I was inte
r-
ested in: photography. They felt that I
could probably help them. And being

outside school was important. Some
of them were unbelievably bright.
Some may have been failed by
school, but there was a real mix of
kids. They weren't much younger
than me: I was 21 or 22; they were 16
to 19. Because I was seen as the ph
o-
tographer, I wa
s the key character in
that group. I could get stuff as well:
enlargers from up in town; I could
get film cheap in Soho. That was part
of the deal.”

Tony sees learning as a social a
c-
tivity: “It's to do with relationships.
Learning for me is not something y
ou
do by yourself


not in the way I do
it, anyway. I’ve always felt I need to
learn with other people. I never
wanted to use the word “teaching” or
being a “teacher”. I have to use it to
work in institutional spaces, but it's
not a word that sat comfortab
ly with
me.

“Learning for me is never about
being stuck in a classroom and som
e-
one telling you how to do something.
It's always to do with a process. Va
r-
ious characters get involved in that
process. Some are better at e
x
plaining
things or presenting som
e
th
ing, o
f-
fe
r
ing up bits of knowledge, or fin
d-
ing something we can use


but it's
never just one person.”

Learning is a pragmatic, exper
i
e
n-
tial process for Tony. “It's that make
-
do, but also making something out of
that make
-
do. It's not learning som
e-
thing fo
r the sake of learning; it's
trying to make something. And then
the conversations that came out of
the practice, whereby you're i
n
volved
in doing something together. Som
e-
how what we were doing in terms of
this thing called “photogr
a
phy” wa
s-
n't photography.

It’s more a case of
us getting involved with each other
and trying something out, having a
bit of fun doing it.”

Tony’s experience with informal
and community learning projects has
made him wary of formal learning
environments. “Institutionalised
educatio
n isn't a place I want to be. I
tried many times to be involved i
n-
side the space, creating groups and
projects inside these organisations.
But I found that I spent huge
amounts of time dealing with the
administrators rather than doing the
learning stuff. T
he first learning pr
o-
ject, building the darkroom, was
being let loose in a space with a
bunch of people who had a shared
interest. Out of that came a lot of
other stuff


lots of conversations,
around music and culture. As long as
we could get a photograph

out first
of all, then something else comes out
that. You don't know what’s going to
come out of it, until somebody comes
along and says, ‘I want to take this
kind of photograph’. And then you
can talk to them in depth. What I
liked about photography was
that
anyone could do it, at least in terms
of getting started.”

Tony worked with people in day
centres throughout the 1980s. “A lot
of time, I felt as though I was walking
into their world, their environment,
and I always felt that I needed to just
be ther
e, as a photographer, and that
somehow the conversations would
start. In one environment, for exa
m-
ple, I set it up a dark room for people
with mental and physical disabilities.
It became their own space within this
institutional space. They made it in a
wa
y: they made it their space with
me. And it happened because people
allowed themselves to get involved
with me in a day centre, and because
I was different from what was going
on there. It becomes something we
did together, making this dark
room… accessibl
e in a way.

“There were eleven or twelve
people floating around who got i
n-
volved. It's always the same: one or
two people get interested, and then
they know somebody else, who they
bring in, who sits on the side of the
group, but they then get involved,
an
d once you've got a basic interest
amongst those few people, then you
can begin to get something out of it.

“When you actually begin a series
of conversations with them, and
continue over a period of time, they
just want you to understand them a
little bit
. And because you're this
person who takes photographs, they
also want to do this thing called ph
o-
tography. Obviously I go in there
with a sort of vaguely framed way of
thinking around it, in terms of project
I would like to do… but sometimes it
never work
s out!”

By being seen as a photographer
rather than a teacher, Tony feels he
can accomplish more. “Because then
you begin to look at what thinking is
and what learning is. It is a social
thing that's going on. It's us negot
i
a
t-


a g i l e l e a r n i n g

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

5

ing something to do with an ac
ti
v
ity
together… For me learning's about
change as well: changing you
r
self.
It's not just thinking, it's chan
g
ing
your thinking a bit. That's the great
thing about pictures, because you can
negotiate through the picture without
being provoked. So you're al
ways
displacing the activity and you're
talking about this thing here, but you
know you're talking with each other,
really. You don't have to do eye co
n-
tact all the time, so the picture b
e-
comes a little reflecting device.”


Lear
ning all the
time, ever
y-
where

David spoke to his friend Annie,
who, with her partner Guy, decided
to educate her two sons at home.
Annie and Guy didn't set out to be
home educators. Annie had read
Illich's
Deschooling Society
at
school, out of academic, ra
ther than
a personal, interest. But it was a
series of practical considerations and
social connections that led them to
go down this route themselves.

David Jennings: How did your
“induction” as a home educator
work?

Annie Weekes: Initially it was
based on

local contacts, such as with
a nearby Sydenham home ed group.
This was in 1999, when the examples
of home education that you could
find online were mostly in the US,
and those were mostly faith
-
based, so
they didn't feel relevant to us. In the
UK, there w
as an email list that I
joined. Over the years that has
grown, as more people came online,
and it's splintered into lots of smaller,
specialist lists.

When I started it felt like, after o
n-
ly a relatively short time, I knew
most of the people who were activ
e
in home education and interested in
sharing experiences. The first time I
went to HESFES [the annual week
-
long summer gathering of home
educators], it was such a relief. Just
being in a field full of people I didn't
have to explain myself to felt libe
r
a
t-
ing and relaxing. Again, HESFES has
expanded massively in the time
we've been going to it. [Wikipedia
says it has grown from around 50
families in 1998 to around 1500 fam
i-
lies in 2006.]

How about your boys


how do
they keep in touch with their peers?

The
same way everyone else of
their age does: mobile phones, Fac
e-
book, MSN Messenger.

This is actually one of the classic
objections to home education that
people always come up with, “What
about socialisation?” I've never quite
worked out what they mean by th
at.

Often people dress it up as, How
do they ever get to meet people?
Which has this k
ind of subtext of,
How do you manage to act like a
normal human being in the world?
Well, we live in the world, and we
probably see more of it than most
schoolchildren.

It's always framed as,
“How do you get to meet other
kids?” rather than, “How do you
learn to be a ‘good little worker’?”

You made a bold decision, i
n-
cluding a change of career path


so
what have been the pluses and m
i-
nuses of that for you?

It's really
quite hard to say. For
the first few years I was quite eva
n-
gelical about it, naturally. You've
only known me in my later, more
jaded years! In a way, I don't even
think of myself as a home educator
now. I don't identify myself as one.
School seems like a w
eird idea now: I
can't imagine why people do it.

How far ahead do you plan? Do
you know what you'll be doing with
your boys when they start again,
after a holiday, say?

No. They don’t “stop” at any
point. Some people organise things
with holidays, but we d
on't.

So it's heavily improvised?

Entirely improvised. It's driven by
what they're interested in. As I say,
that's what can make it hard. Som
e-
one will appear downstairs at 11pm
and say, “So, the Italians were i
n
va
d-
ing Abyssinia in whenever, and…?”
You thin
k, “Oh my god! Isn't Google
working this evening?” They don't
really see the difference b
e
tween
learning and not learning any more
than most adults do.

Most people say that messing
around on the internet to find stuff
out is not learning. To which I say,
W
hy not? And they say, “I suppose…
but it's not really the same.” Because
the correspondence they've made is
to pre
-
structured blocks of activity
that lead to a qualification.

A) you can't get a qualification for
it, and B) almost the definition of
learning

seems to be that you don't
enjoy doing it. Those are the two
things that make it learning.

Or that someone other than you
defines the outcome you're su
p-
posed to aim for.

Exactly, and that seems to be what
makes it real learning. There was a
nice quote som
eone sent me by John
Holt


the educator, not the reggae
singer


“The difficulty with lear
n-
ing to trust our children is that first
we have to learn to trust ourselves”
in terms of defining their learning.
And that's the same with adults.


David Gauntlett

Temporary
Heading

David Gauntlett is a fellow
participant in the School of
Everything Unplugged meetups in
London


when his lecturing
commitments at University of
Westminster allow. Perhaps
unusually for someone on the
editorial board of a journal calle
d
Foucault Studies, David makes his
ideas accessible by expressing
himself in very straightforward
everyday terms.

This is very much of a piece with the
agenda that David is advancing, one
that puts a lot of store in giving
people the means to influence a
nd
remake the worlds they live in
through creative engagement with
their environment and each other.
This echoes one of the influences he
cites: Ivan Illich, whose books like
Disabling Professions and Tools for
Conviviality look towards a gently
radical em
powerment of citizens.

David’s book,
Making is
Connecting
, is published by Polity
in the spring.

David Jennings: Can you d
e-
scribe some of the themes you d
e-
velop in
Making is Connecting
?

Well, the title gives the starting
point. I mean “making is connecting

in three main ways:



First, making is connecting b
e-
cause you have to connect things
together (materials and ideas) to
make something new;



Second, making is connecting
because acts of creativity usually
involve, at some point, a social
dimension and connec
t us with
other people;



And, lastly, making is connecting
because through making things
and sharing them in the world,
we increase our engagement and
connection with our social and
physical environments.

At first I thought it would be like
a description of

changes that are
happening, but now it’s more of a
prescription as well. Creative o
p
po
r-
tunities: people turning off their tel
e-
visions and doing something more
interesting instead.

So how does that improve pe
o-
ple's lives as citizens and learners?

Sitting b
ack and consuming m
e-
dia for entertainment or information
is fine, but one of the things we know
about learning is that you learn
through doing things, and being
active


putting information t
o
get
h-
er in new ways yourself, rather than
just receiving it. If y
ou're act
u
ally
going to engage with something,
then a creative process of thinking
and making will not only help you
learn about that thing, but also help
you create new ideas about that
thing.

In what way is sharing important
to your prescription?

It's ha
rd to separate out the i
m-
portance of sharing because it's all
part of one process. Obviously you
can be creative on your own, locked
away in a room writing a novel or a
symphony, but I think basically cre
a-
tivity is a social process where much
of the value
or reward that

we get
from doing it comes from sharing
and getting feedback, and being i
n-
spired by other people. So I think at
its heart it's a social process. That's
why you need sharing, otherwise
you're losing something. Even cre
a-
tive people who work a
lone ult
i
mat
e-
ly want to share their work


so
sharing is part of creativity.

There's a sense in your work


when you refer to William Morris,
for example, or cite Richard Se
n-
nett's
The Craftsman



of rolling
back the industrialisation and mass
media models

of the last 150 years. I
haven't read The Craftsman


why
is that book important to you?

What I think Richard Sennett's
book boils down to


amid lots of
interesting examples


is an attempt
to prove that thinking and making
are part of the same process.
It's not
that you have thoughts and make
plans, and then you make something,
but the process of making things is
also a deeply intellectual process.

In terms of “rolling back 150
years”, it’s not really about that, but
maybe it is about re
-
connecting with
the kind of everyday creativity which
may have flourished more in the
past, and which doesn’t flourish in a
consumerist, TV
-
watching society.
Today we have tools to share the
fruits of that creativity, easily and
widely, which they didn’t have b
e-
fore, so t
hat’s bound to help.

From the 1984 photography and
education exhibition that arose out
of Tony Hall’s work


The kids don't see the difference
between learning and not lear
n-
ing any more than most adults
do


Every Google query is a piece
of shallow Agile Learning;
there is a goa
l, a tool, and a
need for some analysis




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

6

Everything Unp
lugged issue, 2011

You mention the Transition
Towns movement as an example of
Making is Connecting



could you
explain why?

Transition Towns are an oppo
r-
t
u
nity for people to come together
and make something new


make
their town anew


which creates
soc
ial connections through shared
co
n
cerns. It also means that people
are actively taking an interest in the
way their town does business and
tran
s
port and services. So it's about
ha
v
ing that active connection with
your environment.

Dick Moore
Temporary
Headi
ng

Dick Moore was Director of
Technology at Ufi/learndirect and
has a deep understanding of
technology infrastructure and
development methodologies.

Agile Learning and Agile
Software Development

Dick Moore believes that you can
build agile learning experi
ences in an
evolutionary fashion. You set out
with a clear goal, and iterate as you
go to make sure that you're still on
track. In the process you learn som
e-
thing; perhaps that this is the wrong
way to do it, or that you're asking the
wrong question! Havin
g clear goals,
which are easily tested so you know
when you've reached them, does not
mean that you can't change the goals,
with the consent of the interested
parties.

Dick’s analysis of the parallels b
e-
tween agile software development
and agile learning

is laid out in the
table on the next page.

Shallow v Deep Learning
& Core Agile Skills

The need to rapidly acquire new
skills and knowledge, combined with
the knowledge engine that is the
internet, promotes self
-
directed
lear
n
ing


be it formal, informal

or
recreational; Access to how
-
to videos
via YouTube, and the previous set of
how
-
to documentation that unde
r-
pinned the open source Linux deve
l-
opment platform have shown that
recipes, plus a learning goal, can
form the basis of significant learning
and de
velopment programmes, esp
e-
cially if undertaken through a series
of learning iterations.

There is a view that says that ev
e-
ry Google query is a piece of shallow
Agile Learning; there is a goal (a
question requiring an a
n
swer), a tool
(search engine) and a
need for some
analysis of content (the results r
e-
turned by the engine). However you
need to be capable of discriminating
on the reliability of sources, so effe
c-
tive use of search engines may r
e-
quire a range of core agile skills,
which could be:

a)

formulatio
n of queries,

b)

how to judge the providence and
veracity of what is returned

c)

basic technology skills that are
not yet universal.

The degree to which these core
a
g
ile skills are similar to the literacies
of self
-
organised learners is more
about your degree

of competence
then whether you have these skills or
not. Anyone who uses Google will
have them to some extent. Having a
clear goal that one or more people
can focus around in short iterations
and a way of measuring this provides
an end point; clear criter
ia that define
the end of a learning iteration can
only be a good thing.

These might be;



after this iteration I will be able
to…



after this iteration I can demo
n-
strate…



after this iteration I can explain
and show the relationships b
e-
tween…

So having t
hese core skills and an
understanding of learning iterations
are key for agile learning.

Assessing Agile Learning

The assessment challenges with
Agile Learning are much the same as
with any other form of learning. If
certification is required, then there

has to be some sort of strong and
rigorous assessment that underpins
the knowledge and practical skills
being taught.

Concerns such as impersonation,
plagiarism, weak testing regimes,
and corruption all apply. However in
Agile Learning we have some a
d-
van
tages in that clear goals are set,
intervals are defined and are typ
i
ca
l-
ly short and there may be an end
result delivered via a group allowing
the group to self
-
assess (something
that should be encouraged). Moder
a-
tion may of course be needed.

For more for
mal qualifications
then formal assessment might be
considered. The UK Driving Test
with its theory and practical t
est
might be considered a good example
of Agile Learning. There's the theory
test that's now part of the Driving
Test: you pick these things
up not
just through the British School of
Motoring, but through talking to
your friends, going on a simulator,
buying a book and so on. This is an
example of Agile Learning blending
into accreditation. There is also ‘tacit
knowledge’ that you can't pick up

from just talking and reading. Agile
Learning won't help you learn to ride
a bike.

In my experience in Agile Lear
n-
ing you define the pace, you decide
which elements you want to do
when, you decide who you learn
with as a group. It is agile to me
when you

have a suite of tools and a
suite of communication practices
allowing a real blend of formal and
informal learning. Agile Learning
doesn't have to be assessed, but if
you want it to be, you can put in
methods that will work.

Agile Learning and the
roll o
ut of the mobile
internet

Mobile internet, especially with
things like Android phones, is the
most exciting new platform since the
Sinclair spectrum and I expect it to
have a greater impact than the PC or
laptops. Adding a whole range of
sensory devices (
light sensor


ca
m-
era; directional


compass; sonic


microphone; RFID), combined with
GPS and internet connection, will
open up significant new learning
opportunities. We can in effect carry
a learning device that will increa
s
in
g-
ly understand its physical

context
and allow us to integrate our world.
With applications like Google Go
g-
gles, we already have the ability to
analyse photographs, extracting s
e-
mantic information and other data
from them, linking through to se
c-
o
n
dary sources. Increasingly the
world
through which we navigate
will contain a data layer from which
meaning can be accessed and
know
l
edge inferred.

We can readily expect information
and knowledge to remain in the
cloud rather than on personal or
corporate servers. My feeling is that
the mobi
le internet will accelerate
this, providing even larger layers of
data that will be mined for meaning.
Outside what we call the first world
there is a demand for education, and
a thirst for knowledge at a low unit
cost, that mobile technologies may be
Agile Development

Agile Learning

Customer s
atisfaction by
rapid, co
n
tinuous delivery
of useful software and sy
s-
tems

Learner satisfaction by rapid
attainment of learning co
n-
cepts that can be applied

Working software and sy
s-
tems deli
v
ered frequently
(weeks rather than months
and years)

Attainment of

new models of
unde
r
standing and assessment
building upon each other in
short durations (months)

Working software and client
satisfa
c
tion are the mea
s-
ure of progress

The ability to apply and co
n-
textualise learning with
clear signs of progress and
developm
ent

Late changes are welcomed
rather than rejected out of
hand

The ability to change parti
c-
ular learning goals as unde
r-
standing or issues arise

Close, daily cooperation
between clients and deve
l-
opers

Close relationship between
educators and learners (oft
en
with blurred roles)

Face to face conversation
is the best form of comm
u-
nication requiring co
-
location)

Regular communication (da
i-
ly/weekly) mixing synchronous
and asynchronous communic
a-
tion as a key feature, and
augmented via technology

Projects are b
uilt around
motivated individuals who
are trusted

There has to be shared vision
and common goal for the
learning activity

Continuous attention to
technical excellence and
good design

Having well defined goals and
structure and of “high qual
i-
ty”

Simplicit
y

Clear objectives, though
still open to change

Self organising teams of 5
-
9 to facil
i
tate development

As per Bloom's “two sigma
problem”, mastery learning
can be applied in small
groups, with strong commun
i-
cation

Regular adaption to chan
g-
ing circu
m
stanc
es

OK to change learning goal or
aim mid
-
session providing its
agreed

There is no single tool set
rather a collection of
tools and processes that
support agile development

No one method or way of being
an agile learner or suppor
t-
ing Agile Learning, but th
ey
require a goal and some o
r-
ganis ation
Dick Moore’s comparison of ‘agile’ approaches in software development
and in learning




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

7

able

to provide, so the emerging
economies might adopt Agile Lear
n-
ing solutions quickly due to the low
entry cost. Closer to home, we may
see mobile internet blur the boundary
between formal and i
n
formal lear
n-
ing, access to knowledge and offering
information t
hat is a
l
ways on, e
n-
couraging agile learning practices.


a g i l e l e a r n i n g

8

Everything Unp
lugged issue, 2011

Ollie Gardener
Temporary
Heading

Can social networks be
environments for real learning?
What would happen if you tried to
mash up social networking and
knowledge management w
ith a
human
-
centred approach to how
people learn and develop in
organisations?

Ollie is co
-
founder of the Oslo
-
based
NoddleSoft. Their first offering, as a
start
-
up company, is a platform
called NoddlePod,. What interested
me was NoddlePod’s emphasis on
em
ployees driving their own social
learning in an emergent process. As
Ollie put it in her blog, “I simply
don't believe that people can ‘be
developed’.” They have to be active,
not passive, to develop.

David Jennings: How did you
come to found NoddleSoft an
d
where have you got to with it?

Ollie Gardener: I founded No
d-
dleSoft out of frustration


frustr
a-
tion that I was in a role where my
role was to enable learning, yet I
came to feel that what I was doing
was more about managing and co
n-
trolling learning. I f
elt more of a bo
t-
tleneck then an enabler.

I was in charge of implementing
wikis and forums to enable
know
l
edge
-
sharing across companies
and within companies. I loved the
idea of it, but I also came across all of
the obstacles to making it work. It's
fabulo
us once you get the ball rolling.
But at the start, it can be a heavy
process. There are a lot of culture
issues, like, “Why should I give away
my knowledge that is making me
valuable in a company?”

So I thought it would be better to
enable more everyday l
earning, to
allow the individual to organise the
material the way they want to do.
Because, in a wiki, obviously som
e-
one has to set a structure and that
doesn't necessarily reflect our ind
i-
vidual mental models of how things
are linked and what's relevant t
o me.
That was the first thing: I wanted the
individual to be able to create a stru
c-
ture that reflected how they thought
and what they actually needed of
content and information.

The idea of NoddlePod sprung
from there… You could make the
platform social,
in that I can actually
share what information is relevant to
me now.

It's not like a project management,
delegation type of thing… But we can

work towards individual things and
still benefit from each others learning
along the way.

So how does NoddlePod he
lp?

It's a marriage between a project
management tool and a social ne
t-
work like Facebook.

Content
-
focused tools like blogs
and wikis leave out additional cues,
like “When do I need this info
r-
m
a
tion? In what context is this rel
e-
vant?” And that’s going to b
e diffe
r-
ent for each individual learner. So it’s
a matter of connecting the content
with the context that’s valuable to the
individual, based on their own need
and preferred way of learning. As
you elaborate on the structure, you're
creating your own worl
d and your
own learning.

We believe that individual
s will
benefit from having a ‘hanger’ to
make sense out of their content,
whether that content is a training
programme or a website they've
found, or discussions with co
l-
leagues, or to
-
do items for their
own
work.

What areas of enterprise activity
do you think NoddlePod is best
suited for?


When we built it, we referred a lot
to graduate programme, knowledge
programmes, talent programmes.

However, we’ve actually found
that NoddlePod is just as valuable for

an enterprise that deploys it as part
of an organisational development
process. They use it to connect
change agents across the organisation
who have different roles in impl
e-
menting an organisational strategy.
So these agents, working on different
bits of

the process, connect and di
s-
cuss to see if people are experiencing
the same kind of resistance or issues.

Are there particular kinds of
companies that welcome the No
d-
dlePod approach? What resistance
have you met?


I’ve targeted employee
-
engagement
-
aware c
ompanies. I
think that's a growing sector, and
people are starting to value the ind
i-
vidual in all of this. They're reco
g
ni
s-
ing that we shouldn't being trying to
create copies; we
should be crea
t
ing
originals and
encouraging ind
i-
vid
u
als to make a
unique con
trib
u-
tion to the co
m-
pany.

If companies tre
at r
e
cruits as i
n-
terchangeable according to the role
they’re given, it’s as if they're just a
jigsaw pu
z
zle piece. People aren't like
that. You will get a lot more value
from each individual employee, if
you conne
ct with their reason for
being. If you can connect with what
drives them


as an e
m
ployee and
as a human


it makes for a more
healthy organisational culture, with
more innovation, much more initi
a-
tive and engagement and producti
v
i-
ty.

A lot of the barriers

are to do with
there being so many organisational
structures that are there to control
and to moderate and to steer the
organisation. Those structures are
there because of tradition, often, or
because of status, because of fear.

We don't trust our employe
es
and, really, if that is the honest a
n-
swer when you dig deep enough,
you've got a problem. You're not
going to succeed as an organisation if
you can't trust the people that you've
hired. If those people know that you
don't trust them, then what commi
t-
men
t will they have? How will they
engage? Will they contribute their
best ideas to the organisation, or will
they keep them to themselves and do
their own thing?

In the past we focused too na
r-
rowly on productivity and control. I
think productivity is kind of

a side
effect of doing all the other things
right.


Fred Garnett
Temporary
Heading

Fred Garnett has been active in
learning for a long while, with
research and teaching posts from US
universities throu
gh the now
-
defunct BECTA to his current base
at the London Knowledge Lab.

Fred explores how learners deal with
the unknown and reframe problems
in an unpredictable world: how they
create context out of ambiguity. He
is particularly interested in how
learn
ers create the conditions to
manage their own learning, and
interact with authority and power in
learning. The
challenge this
represents to teacher
-
led learning can be
anathema to
traditional models.

In trad
i
tional ped
a
gogy, the
teacher d
e
cides what the le
arner
needs to know, and how the
knowledge and skills should be
taught. Fred uses new terms to d
e-
scribe altern
a
tives to this: “andr
a-
gogy”, a shift from taught to self
-
directed education, typical of adult
and community learning co
n
texts,
where learners are
involved in pla
n-
ning their learning activities, facil
i-
tated by teachers and centred on
experiences and problem
-
solving;
and “heutagogy”, a further develo
p-
ment where learners have enough
confidence and mastery of their own
learning that they can re
-
frame pr
o
b-
lems.

Fred suggests that heutagogy can
be seen as “the ability to play with
form and create new ones”. Learners
generate their own contexts to help
them understand complex situations,
and learning comes close to improv
i-
sation as a means of dealing with
t
hese situations. Fred is interested in
“how you deal with the unknown
constructively”, designing Archite
c-
tures of Participation (AoP) in lear
n-
ing.

Fred, a big Beatles fan, used these
ideas to describe the band’s career. In
their early years, they were taug
ht
the craft of studio recording by pr
o-
ducer George Martin


their ped
a-
gogic phase. In their andragogic p
e-
riod in the mid 1960s, Martin made a
tactical withdrawal, becoming more
facilitator than teacher. This shifted
to heutagogy as The Beatles mastered
th
e disciplines and techniques until
they could play the studio as though
it were an instrument itself. In 1967
they made records such as
Strawberry
Fields Forever

and
I Am The Walrus

that used the studio in ways that cut
it free from its function of doc
u
men
t-
ing musical performances.

Using online technologies, Fred
believes learners can co
-
create their
learning. In doing so, the AoP r
e-
quires an examination of the princ
i-
ples in institutional redesign. If
Learner Generated Contexts (LGCs)
are “a coincidence of
motivations
leading to agile configurations”, then
institutions need to be capable of
adapting to post web 2.0 multi
-
context learning. An AoP is about
enabling “adaptive institutions” to
work across collaborative networks.

There are many practical exa
m-
ples

on a small scale, often where
teachers factor in new tech tools and
collaboration, treating learning as a
holistic process. Most institutions are
limited by funding and their need to
track their learners to do this only on
short
-
term projects: they don't
go on
to become fully adaptive. The tools
and processes to support this ada
p-
tive process are available, but the
mindset of IT Service departments in
education institutions has yet to e
m-
brace them.

Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.
Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.


NoddlePod screenshot showing project outline (left

pane) and item view (right pane)




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

9

Fred describes his own teaching
practice as “brokering lear
ning”:
interpreting what the educ
a
tion sy
s-
tem would accredit as lear
ning and
enabling students “to do stuff they
were interested in. Brokering is about
taking learners’ interests and ma
p-
ping them to formal learning ou
t-
comes”, he says. In the USA, “you
wri
te the syllabus of every course
you teach”, enabling teachers to r
e-
build the syllabus for learning.

“Brokering is using your
know
l
edge of the educational system
to negotiate with learners about what
they want to do, a form of a
n
dr
a-
gogy. Brokering is the cr
aft skill of
teaching, and takes time to develop.
The key aspect in making brokering
work are the assessments, and what
is assessed. If you can let the learner
select syllabus areas that interest
them, or negotiate the form or the
timing of exams, you can
motivate
them a lot.

“Teachers need to be confident to
move from delivery to negotiation
and brokering, instead of hiding
behind knowledge or learning mat
e-
rials. Learners come to understand
the education process and how lear
n-
ing is assessed. They become ca
pable
of seeing how their work will be
marked and can develop their own
assessment criteria.”

Currently learners do not have the
enterprise and know
-
how to generate
their own learning contexts: we need
assessment to prove that learning has
occurred, a barr
ier to learners deve
l-
oping the confidence to take control.
“It isn’t possible to a
l
low learners to
generate their own contexts without
pedagogic, instit
u
tional and asses
s-
ment redesign”, says Fred. “The cu
r-
rent system requires learners to adapt
to pedagogic
ally
-
driven assessment
as it has the power to allocate the
rewards to that model. The existing
power structures for education are
loaded against learner enterprise.”

Fred and his team developed an
E
-
maturity Framework for Further
Education (EMFFE) with fif
teen co
l-
leges which appreciated its develo
p-
mental qualities. “In the EMFFE and
the AoP we use quality improvement
indicators and inspection processes
and design them into the everyday
processes used by teachers. Staff
record activities which create d
y
na
m-
ic

systems which are also i
n
spection
reports and the basis of future pla
n-
ning reviews.”

Fred has two underpinning pri
n-
ciples. “Everyone wants to learn,
which is not the basis of our d
e-
signed
-
to
-
fail education system. Se
c-
ondly, post
-
Web
-
2.0 tools enable
part
icipatory learning processes to be
supported by technology. The o
p
po
r-
tunity to support LGCs is what is
new.

“Plato's original Academy did not
set up the Academic model that we
think of. The Academia was the
building where Socrates sat and d
e-
bated subjects
, a nearby orchard
allowed learner discussions and a
gymnasium provided physical exe
r-
cise. Learning was seen as instru
c-
tion, conversation and activity in
formal, informal and non
-
formal
contexts, but we only retain the fo
r-
mal part, call it Academic and asc
ribe
it to Plato to validate it. Even our
notion of ‘Academic’ is misunde
r-
stood and used to support a false
position of power, whereas LGCs
were designed as complementary
processes into the original model. In
a way, LGCs have always been
around.”


Teachers need to be confident
to move to negotiation and
brokering, instead of hiding
behind knowledge




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

10

Everything Unp
lugged issue, 2011

Tools for Agile
Learning

This section gives brief accounts of
instances where low cost tools can
enable self
-
organised learning by
individuals and groups.

Towards Ligh
t-
weight Learning

Teacher Lucy Johnson describes her
use of a bloggi
ng platform for
enabling emergent learning.

Blogger


who would have
thought this technology could make
for such a dynamic light weight
learning tool? But what a difference
this has made to my GCSE group.
The students love using the platform,
they can cust
omise it, which gives
them a real sense of ‘ownership’ of
their work, they can link with their
class mates through the ‘follow’ d
e-
vice, thus enabling peer
-
to
-
peer
learning, they can link with me, and
as the lessons unfold, I can update
my blog in real time

to respond to
their learning needs
-
for example a
lesson on advertising through up
some brilliant ideas and I could see
the students were inching towards
the idea of ‘role models’ and ‘aspir
a-
tion’
-
they had the ideas but not the
vocabulary.

I saw that this
was happening and
so posted this vocabulary and defin
i-
tions and the students responded
enthusiastically.

Sometimes it is tempting in le
s-
sons to introduce concepts that the
students have not heard of and so
‘stretch’ their learning
-
but it the st
u-
dents cann
ot contextualise this it can
be frustrating for them. I like being
able to set a ‘stage’ for learning which
is in effect the classroom and the
‘task’ set, and then being able to use a
platform such as Blogger to create a
collage of images, links and concep
ts
which pupils can dip into as they feel
like, set against the background of
this over arching ‘task’ which sets the
direction and ‘tone’ of the lesson. So
there are hints and sign posts t
o-
wards extending the work we are
doing but it is down to the learne
rs in
terms of their inclination whether or
not to follow these suggestions . The
internet is in some way a “lucky
dip”, where, as Sugatra Mitra has
suggested, there are a plethora of
answers but where it is up to me as
the students’ guide to give the que
s-
tions and hint at the richness of r
e-
sponses that may be possible with a
suitably creative attitude
-
which is
what, it seems, that Blogger is ideal
for.

This approach would work with
other Blogging platforms, anywhere
where links and text and images can
be g
athered and the learner and
teacher can relate to each other in real
time. I also find it handy to feign
some level of ignorance about web
2.0 as the students’ excitement and
sense of discovery at posting
Yo
u
Tube videos and so on to illu
s-
trate their idea i
s palpable.

Commonplace
Books 2.0

David Jennings vaingloriously
compares his use of an open source
wiki tool to the methods of
enlightenment
-
era thinkers.

Taking notes helps us our exper
i-
ence. The act of distilling and refining
what we see and hear does mo
re than
just produce a record or aide me
m-
oire; it lodges each thought more
deeply in mind. Notes of meetings,
lectures, videos, ideas that visit us
when staring out of the train wi
n-
dow, key passages of books and
websites… How to keep and manage
all these s
cribblings to make them
more useful for learning and problem
solving?

I guess I’m not alone in having
experimented with various shapes
and sizes of notebook


do you keep
everything in one book, or use sep
a-
rate books for work, personal deve
l-
opment, and so

on? Keeping a digital
record makes it easier to edit and
rearrange notes post hoc, and the
process of linking between disparate
ideas further enriches learning and
creativity. In
Where Do Good Ideas
Come From?

Steven Johnson reports
how enlightenment
-
era
thinkers kept
what they called a “commonplace”
book, to transcribe favourite quot
a-
tions and ideas. These books were
sometimes laboriously indexed to
allow different concepts to bleed into
each other. But how often do we
actually make the effort to go to th
ese
lengths?

For nearly three years now I’ve
been using something called Ti
d-
dlyWiki to make my notes more
flexible, integrated and link
-
aware.
TiddlyWiki is like a single
-
user wiki
site, except that it’s not a site, it’s a
single
HTM
L file
with
some
java
s-
cript
th
at ma
n
ages the individual pages
(known as “tiddlers”). I keep all my
notes on TiddlyWiki from meetings,
to
-
do lists, observations from lectures
or videos, website cli
p
pings, even the
tortuous history of my complaints to
my bank. If I enter either
the name of
another tiddler or a URL, it’s aut
o-
matically hyperlinked. And every
tiddler can be given as many tags as
you like to help cross
-
referencing,
navigation and browsing for refle
c-
tion.

There are other proprietary se
r-
v
ices, like Evernote and DEVONn
ote
that offer similar functionality, poss
i-
bly with more sophistication. Ho
w-
ever, having previously kept my
notes on Psion and Palm PDAs, and
on the Ma.gnolia social bookmarking
site, I know the aggravation caused
when these businesses stop suppor
t-
ing old
formats. TiddlyWiki will keep
working as long as there are brow
s-
ers that can read HTML and java
s-
cript.

The fact that TiddlyWiki is just
one file makes it easily portable: I
carry mine round on a keychain USB
stick, which I use on my desktop and
notebook c
omputers. If you spend a
lot of your life in the cloud, there’s a
hosted option


with a different set
of security considerations.

TiddlyWiki was developed by
Jeremy Ruston, and is published
under an open source licence. It
seems to be best known in the d
eve
l-
oper/geek community, and it’s em
i-
nently adaptable and hackable. Ho
w-
ever, I’ve managed to use nearly all
its features, and do basic adaptations,
without needing to do any coding.

Meanwhile TiddlyWiki isn’t so
good if you like to jot drawings in the
marg
in


so you can keep your
m
o
leskine notebooks for that. But
they’re a lot more expensive.

DIY Social Ne
t-
works for
Schools

Lucy Johnson outlines the benefits


and hazards


of using social
networks for student engagement in
her school

Working from an insti
nct that s
o-
cial media might be a great tool for
enabling “student voice” in school,
we started using the Ning social
network platform a few years ago.
Ning enables you to create your own
network, by configuring whatever
social features you want: blogs, f
o-
r
ums, profiles, activity streams,
ph
o
tos and videos.

Our test case was the school
Eco Committee. Initially we were
slightly bedevilled by privacy
issues


that is to say, policy on
how pictures of school children
may be used on the internet. Howe
v-
er, ably
assisted by Rhiannon Scutt,
Head of Sustainabi
l
ity, our Ning has
become a useful tool for enabling
staff to keep in touch over a site that
covers two post codes, about a su
b-
ject area that is not curriculum based.

The topic is now under threat of
becoming s
idelined as the gover
n-
ment have cut the sustainability
agenda, with it no longer being co
m-
pulsory for schools to deliver. Yet the
combination of the Headteacher's
support (feeling that it reflects the
Catholic Ethos of the school) and the
low overheads of
running our Ning
network means that it has endured.

We began paying for the service a
year ago, in order to avoid having
adverts on the site, which we felt was
inappropriate for school children.

This kind of low
-
cost, flexible
network infrastructure has tr
eme
n-
dous potential to forge connections at
a time when links and communic
a-
tion are increasingly necessary to
support an ever more complex and
fractured society. Though even these
connections come with further co
m-
plexities attached. The issue of inte
r-
genera
tional relationships is fraught
with difficulties as teachers and st
u-
dents reach out online in ways not
easily governed by institutional pr
o-
cedures.

Our Ning has come up against the
lack of policy and strategy in dealing
with these thorny issues. Simply
d
eclaring that these platforms, once
classified as “social networks”, have
to be gated from the school exper
i-
ence does nothing to address the very
important issues that are arising
around young people and their exp
e-
riences of the public domain online.
These

tools are too important and too
potentially powerful to ignore.

Pull quo
te of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.
Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.


Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.
Pull quote of fifteen to
twenty words to go here.




a g i l e l e a r n i n g

Everything Unplugged issue, 2011

11

Join us at the
Unplugged
Meet
-
ups

Most of the conversations reported
in this paper either originated at,
emerged from, or were later drawn
into an open, self
-
organised group
that meets weekl
y in London’s Royal
Festival Hall. This group was
started as a spin
-
off from the School
of Everything. Here Patrick Hadfield
gives a personal account of why he
participates in the group.

The meetings take place from 10:30
to 12:30 each Wednesday. See the
w
eb page at the bottom right for full
details.

I’ve been going to the School of
Everything “Unplugged” meetups
for several months; I don’t make
every week, but I am there fairly
often. The main thing I get out of the
meetup is the opportunity to meet
like
-
m
inded people for challenging
conversation


a real positive.

I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud
being there: most of the people there
have more experience in education
than I do, and more formal unde
r-
standing of pedagogical theories and
ideas. My interest
in learning


aside
from a passion of learning itself


stems from my experience working
in learning and development and
organisation development in a corp
o-
rate environment


what used to be
known as “training”


and fourteen
months spent working on a chan
ge
programme developing a new school
curriculum in Scotland.

I approach the weekly, informal
discussions from a different perspe
c-
tive to others; but then so do they


one of the great things is that ever
y-
one comes from a different place and
is willing to
explore and challenge
others’ views.

Sometimes we have open, wide
-
ranging discussions; somet
imes a
fixed topic or subject


at least for a
while (before we stroll off topic…).
There are occasional speakers, too,
usually organised by David


d
e-
spite bei
ng a self
-
organising group, it
still takes some organising, and D
a-
vid and Lucy seem to do most of that.

The energy of this group stems
from our different interests


enough commonality to want to hear
what the others have to say, enough
difference to gene
rate real debate. It
is also a very open group


anyone
can turn up and take part. And, a
p-
parently, we are a friendly, welco
m-
ing bunch! One of the rewarding
things is
how ne
w-
comers to
the group always seem to react in a
very positive fashion.



Credits

E
ditorial & design team

David Jennings, online learning co
n-
sultant

Fred Garnett

Ian McCleave

Lucy Johnson

Patrick Hadfield, organisation
change management consultant

Tony Hall

Photographs

Portraits of Dougald Hine, Ollie Ga
r-
dener, Annie Weekes, Tony Hall by

David Jennings. Portrait of David
Jennings by Lucy Vickery and of Fred
Garnett by ?????

“Unplugged” image (front cover)
and Meetup photo by David Je
n-
nings.

Google goggles
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mus
hman1970/4200068872/

Constipated face
http://www.fli
ckr.com/photos/insi
ghtimaging/3586172160/

All others by Tony Hall.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the following for
contributing to printing costs:

DJ Alchemi Ltd

[Insert your name here if you wish
to]

and to Lucy Vickery for layout assi
s-
tance.

On the

web

Use this QR code to go to a web
page with all the links in this new
s-
paper, including extended versions
of the interviews

Is your learning constipated by
over
-
developed tools and over
-
specified
processes?


Conversation flows on Level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall