Learning comes in pieces – waiting to be attached and connected in all means, shapes and sizes……
2) What are the Benefits of Flexible Learning Pathways?
High School Student:
Susan is attending a High School in Nelson, BC. Susan is interested in science and passionate about art and design. Her school does not offer integrated courses or advanced courses in any of these areas. Her current course schedule is full, but it is not full of courses that she wants. Susan decides to take an Anatomy and Physiology MOOC through an American College online for free as well as participate in a Makers Faire weekend workshop. Through the MOOC, she discovers that she is passionate about drawing and creating detailed physiology images. She has had to learn new computer programs, create her own App and has developed her digital skills as a result of participating in the MOOC and in her Maker Faire weekend project. She is frustrated because none of her courses seem to connect with what she is really interested in – or at least she cannot see the connections. None of these courses, workshops or skills are learned in her regular high school courses. If she had the opportunity to take her course through a common tracking tool as well as upload her the digital components and evidence of her learning from her Maker Faire project into the same tool, her teachers, her parents, Universities and future employers would all have the opportunity to see who Susan is as a learner.
High School Parents:
Susan’s dad is a programmer with a Vancouver software company – but he works from home in Nelson, BC. He has been part of the open source community where programmers have shared their code with each other, and he was able to become financially successful as a result of collaborating with others. He helps Susan fill out her university application and notices that she is not asked about her skills, experiences, abilities as a learner or evidence of her ability to collaborate with others. He is frustrated at the focus of academics over authentic career skills. Knowing they have to get the application in, Susan and her dad focus on a course that Susan needs to redo in order to get into the faculty she wants. He is anxious about the time she will need to retake a course and wonders how that will affect their family vacation.
Sophia is an independent digital designer with a software company. She was just granted a contract to create new updated images for the Vancouver Hospital for the physiotherapy department. The new software tool is very simple to use and she wonders if she could hire an intern or someone new to help her with her contract. She does not know where to find someone like this and she wishes that there were a common cloud based environment where she could go and find students to work with so she could start her own consulting firm in the future. Sophia would be willing to mentor someone and support them, if she could have some help in creating the project that she needs to complete. She also knows that her digital skills need to be upgraded and wonders how her skills compare to others, including the new students. She would be willing to pay to upgrade her skills to compare her abilities to learn with others.
Chris is the Director of Learning with Ashoka, which is a leading association for social entrepreneurs. Based out of Vancouver, BC, he is developing a program to create open badges so that students, parents, employers and educational institutions can have a clear criteria of the skills, abilities, experiences and attitudes of learners. He is browsing the web for great designers and comes across some of Sophia’s work. He knows that if he is able to work with other BC entrepreneurs he would be able to apply for a grant to create open badges using her designs. He considers how to connect with Sophia and in Facebook, he sees a Makers Faire post describing a design project. He clicks on Susan’s Facebook post to learn more. If he could have access to more of her work and connect her Facebook posts with her Maker Faire videos and designs that she created with her Maker Faire team, he could connect her with Sophie and add her to the grant application. He wonders how he could be a mentor and support future Maker Faire projects.
Learning Pathways ensure that the “learner” is the center of an ecosystem of diverse learning opportunities. A learning pathways is a flexible means to track the connections, skills, experiences passions and abilities of individual learners to extend a learner’s opportunity and develop their digital identity.
Learning Pathways can give learners the opportunity to put a currency on the learning they are doing outside of a formalized institution. As Teitle (2013) suggests,
“Educators have given relatively little scholarly attention to young people’s non-school lives. Ignored or valorized, non-school spaces show up in educational research only as a backdrop, implying that school learning is the yardstick by which to measure the young people’s lives. Even scholars who focus primarily on non-school spaces are limited by their inability to theorize non-school learning without framing it in terms of school learning (Sefton-Green, 2012; Teitle, 2012).
UBC has the potential to support and validate the informal learning currency already developed. As a Higher Education leader, UBC has the opportunity to collaborate with k12 educational stakeholders, industry supporters and community association advocates to initiate a change in how we could define learning opportunities.
For more information about perspectives on Open Badges for Lifelong Learning, the Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University,in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation have written a paper that can be found HERE
Photo at top of blog post was retrieved from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/