At the 2014 Education World Forum (EWF), global education company, Promethean releases its seventh ‘Thinking Deeper’ White Paper – ‘Individuals and Communities Evolving Cultures of Learning Together’. The report explores the evolution of community-based learning and the opportunities for respecting, supporting and learning from traditional learning cultures in the transition to a digital world. The observation that mankind has evolved collaborative behaviours in order to strengthen the chances of surviving and thriving is a fundamental within the paper.
Authored by Development Consultant Peter Drury, the paper investigates the value of collaborative, community-based learning and suggests that, in order to make a successful transition to the digital world, ‘learning systems’ must be understood within the context of broader socio-cultural systems. The paper asserts that individuals and groups have evolved cultures of learning together and that these collaborative learning behaviours underpin all forms of learning. Drury argues that recognising how our socio-cultural systems have evolved is key to understanding the requirements of new digital learning systems.
‘Learning behaviours’ and the co-evolution of technology and socio-cultural systems
Rewinding the clock back to the Stone Age, the paper examines how socio-cultural systems have co-evolved with the technologies needed to ‘survive and thrive’. Drury traces the historical development of cultural learning systems, noting how significant advancements in technology, such as the development of written communication and print media, have accelerated mankind’s cultural evolution.
Social learning and the accumulation of knowledge have played a crucial role in enabling human beings to adapt to new environments, and the exchange of information has sparked new systems of thought and social organisation. Drury highlights that: “As individuals and communities learn together, so they develop values that guide behaviours.” These ‘learning behaviours’ can be seen in the ways communities compete, collaborate and exchange knowledge and resources. The paper conceptualises this research into ‘Social Learning’ models which are complemented by ‘Situational Learning’ models and discrete ‘learning styles’.
Collaborative learning systems in the shift to a digital world
Drury highlights that, with the rights to World Wide Web software released two decades ago, the shift to the digital world has given extensive access to multi-media learning technologies, and signalled the exponential growth of opportunities for change. The paper examines the value of new technologies in community learning systems, taking evidence from a diversity of studies, which range from the profitable use of mobile phone technology in Kerala fishing communities, to the effect of Promethean solutions on student achievement in US schools.
The paper considers the role of digital technology in conserving traditional culture as part of a community’s collaborative learning system, pointing to the opportunities for recording, uploading and sharing information and transforming traditional knowledge into creative goods. UNESCO’s role in supporting marginalised communities in building digital collections is evidenced.
The paper calls for policy makers and practitioners to appreciate the importance of nurturing collaborative learning behaviours in the digital world. The potential of digital learning technologies to develop more productive behaviours and accelerate development should be recognised and nurtured with care and respect for the best of existing learning cultures.
The presentation of ‘Individuals and Communities Evolving Cultures of Learning Together’ takes place at EWF 2014. Journalists interested in further information or interviews with the author should contact Louise Matthews on 07980 519225 or email [email protected]
Promethean is a global education company that improves learning productivity by developing, integrating and implementing innovative 21st century learning environments that make everyone more engaged, empowered, and successful. The company is headquartered in Blackburn in Lancashire, England, with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, please visit www.prometheanworld.com.
About The Education World Forum
The Education World Forum is the largest gathering of education and skills ministers in the world. The annual summit for national ministers of education and their immediate delegations, The Education World Forum is the internationally recognised ministerial forum for debating future practice in education and is a closed event by official invitation only.
Louise Matthews, Technical Marketing & PR, +44 (0) 7980 519225 / [email protected]
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