Friday, 18 November 2016

Schoolboy errors

Did you make mistakes when you were in school? I certainly did. In fact all of my classmates also did. Often we were scolded for our errors and sometimes we were even 'punished' for getting something wrong. One of my classmates was rapped across the wrist with a ruled because he was writing with his left hand (he was left handed).

I remember being told off by my teacher for writing out the number eight wrongly in my exercise book. Instead of writing it as a smooth flowing figure of eight as I had been shown, I wrote two conjoining circles. What disobedience!
For this deviant behaviour I was made to sit in the head teacher's office during break time writing out the number eight time after time 'as it should be written'.

One of the barriers to creativity in education is where teachers insists on one answer or one way of doing something. Another is a prevailing atmosphere in some classrooms of fear of failure. These and several other related barriers to creativity were discussed during a keynote session which featured Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg, British author Richard Gerver and myself, in Seoul at the Global Leaders Forum. We had been invited to speak on creativity in education.

There was consensus between us. We all agreed that failure was an important component of creativity, and should be built upon rather than dissuaded. Too often, students are fearful of making mistakes, which limits their willingness to experiment, explore and take risks. We talked about gaming, where users are always trying to exceed their own previous scores, and learn to perfect their skills through constant iteration and failure. Richard talked about encouraging students to 'colour outside the lines' while Pasi remarked on the powerful incentive of 'doing better next time'. We discussed assessment methods and concluded that in most countries these are too restrictive, and often assess superficial levels of knowledge.

Our conclusion was that 'school boy' errors are inevitable, and that mistakes and failure should be turned to the advantage of the student rather than becoming a dark cloud that hangs over an academic record. I'm glad I failed at school in some areas, because, although it was painful at the time, I have learnt many life lessons - not least that success is often hard earned, and we should never give up. One final thought - students don't fail. They just discover new and better ways of doing things. For me, the acronym FAIL will always mean 'First Attempts In Learning'.

Photo from Flickr

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Schoolboy errors by Steve Wheeler was written in Seoul, Korea and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Just for me learning

I took part in a very interesting panel discussion with several other keynote speakers during the Adult Learning Symposium last week, in Singapore.

The theme of the conference was 'Future of Work, Future of Learning', which sent a clear message to delegates that the two are inseparable. One of the questions from our audience, largely made up of learning and development professionals, was about how we could optimise learning in organisations. One of the panellists answered by saying that 'Just in Time' and 'Just Enough' learning should be possible and sustainable for workplace learning in most companies. I completely agreed with him, but added that we could go farther, and that 'Just for Me' learning is now also achievable, through a number of emerging trends in learning and development.

One trend is BYOD - bring your own device, which is happening in workplaces across the globe. Employers support their staff as they bring their personal devices such as smartphones and tablets into the workplace, enabling a technical infrastructure that scales to the screens being used. Clearly there are security and privacy issues to be addressed, but another trend is that learning is now becoming more untethered and we are witnessing a decline in the use of training rooms. Employers are discovering that productivity and effectiveness can be increased if learners stay in their workplace or remain mobile as they learn, rather than requiring them to travel to, and spend time in a 'training place.' Digital delivery of content can personalise learning, enabling learners to work at their own pace, and in a place and at a time that suits them. The final trend is the personal learning environment, which is made up of the learner's own tools and technologies, their personal learning network, and any other content, events and experiences that help them to learn what is needed to be successful in their work.

We have come a long way since the 'Just in Case' curriculum. Now employees can be kept up to date and knowledgeable, and their skills developed personally, through the appropriate application of networked technologies. 'Just for Me' learning will epitomise the next decade of learning and development.

Photo courtesy of the Adult Learning Symposium

Creative Commons License
Just for me learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.