As a new member of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Special Interest Group (SIG) for Independent Schools executive board, I have been involved in planning for a new project, a Summer Book Reading Selection. It was at my suggestion that we selected A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for A World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown for this summer’s read.
For me, this book is a great summer read. It is fairly short (140 pages), very readable, and available in paperback or eBook versions. Jonathan Martin, who I am assuming is a quick reader, was able to complete the reading in 75 minutes. Thomas and Brown define the difference as:
The differences between the teaching-based approach to education and the learning-based approach is that in the first case the culture is the environment, while in the second case, the culture emerges from the environment – and grows along with it
A second difference is that the teaching-based approach focus on teaching us about the world, while the new culture of learning focuses on learning through engagement within the world.
Finally, in the teaching-based approach, students must prove they have received the information transfered to them – that they quite literally “get it”. However, in the new culture of learning, the point is to embrace what we don’t know, come up with better questions about it, and continue asking those questions in order to learn more and more, both incrementally and exponentially. The goal is for each of us to take the world in and make it part of ourselves.
And thus begins the context of the rest of the discussion in the book. Having read it earlier this year (and currently re-reading it to be ready for the discussion), it strikes me that Thomas and Brown are beginning to direct us to the sets of questions that we need to be exploring as it relates to education, with or without technology.
Officially beginning on June 1st, we will be using the ISENET Ning (http://isenet.ning.com) as our gathering point to discuss the book.
As a culminating event, we will also be hosting a webinar sometime between mid-August and early September (time and date to be confirmed) with John Seely Brown.
I am really excited about the discussions which I hope will emerge this summer.