Flexible Learning Pathways for UBC : integrating Formal and Informal Learning
MET- UBC – ETEC 580 – Final Project
Rather than thinking of public education as a burden that schools must shoulder on their own, what would it mean to think of public education as a responsibility of a more distributed network of people and institutions?…what would it mean to enlist help in this endeavour from an engaged and diverse set of publics that are broader than what we traditionally think of as educational and civic institutions? In addition to publics that are dominated by adult interests, these publics should include those that are relevant and accessible to kids now, where they can find role models, recognition, friends, and collaborators who are co participants in the journey of growing up in a digital age.
(Ito, 2010, p. 353)
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It takes a village to raise a child. This proposal is an attempt to establish that informal learning is just as credible as formal learning, especially in a flexible networked learning environment. Everyone has a role and contribution to learning. There is a currency for informal learning; however, there is confusion over the credibility of informal learning compared to formal, institutionalised learning. Looking back at the 10 Predictions for 2013, (2012) flexible learning pathways offers an opportunity to meet many of these predictions:
1. Connected Learners
2. Mobile Devices
3. Communities of Practice
4. Evidence of Learning
5. Taking Risks
7. Learner Voice and Choice
8. Unpacking Standards
9. Transforming Learning Environments
10. Building a Common Language
In my opinion, flexible learning pathways offer the most potential to meet these predictions.
This proposal will define flexible learning pathways and describe how flexible learning pathways can be used to integrate formal and informal learning. I will begin by describing how flexible learning pathways are relevant to different learners from different perspectives. I will describe the current opportunities that blend or measure informal and formal learning. In conclusion, I will present conditions to consider in creating a flexible learning pathways program for UBC. It is my hope that every person who reads this proposal will consider how they can contribute to creating a learning pathway system and develop the currency of informal learning.
1) What is a Flexible Learning Pathway?
Using flexible learning pathways means to integrate an interdisciplinary curriculum by connecting competency based learning with evidence of problem based learning to meet the personalized needs of each learner.
Learning pathways promote the integration of formal learning and non-formal learning in one learning environment. Learning pathways offer authentic, individualized, personalized learning opportunities to demonstrate evidence of learning and a means to describe and measure the mastery of competencies for a learner. Clement (2000) defines a learning pathway as,
“The sequence of intermediate steps from preconceptions to target model form what Scott (1991) and Niedderer and Goldberg (1995) have called a learning pathway. For any particular topic, such a pathway would provide both a theory of instruction and a guideline for teachers and curriculum developers.”
Although a learning pathways may be considered a new concept, peer reviewed articles to support it can be found in the research about personalized learning (Reigluth, Watson & Watson, 2013, Kitsantas & Dabbagh, 2011), self regulated learning (Zimmerman & Schunk, 1989) and social constructivist theory in global networks (Enonbun, 2010). Learning pathways as a means of learning design are alluded to in vision papers about fluid learning (Falconer, Littlejohn, McGill, (2013) and centrifugal schooling (Williamson, 2013). Learning pathways are being scaffolded at the New Zealand CORE conference and are now more commonly used to support professional learning tracking and progress.
Currently, learners have the opportunities to learn inside and outside formal learning institutions. However, learners are not always given credit for their learning outside of school walls. Learning pathways offer the learner the opportunity to develop a way of tracking, and creating digital evidence of learning which would help create a description of who they are as a person and what they can do. Their learning pathway may include evidence of what they are passionate about, what experiences they may have, what skills they may have developed, what academic strengths they may have, references who can endorse their skills and a specific frame of reference to identify what makes every learner unique. The key component of a learning pathway is the learning design to promote evidence of personalized learning and the emphasis on competency based learning integrated with alternatives measures of learning.