in Education

Learnscaping

Jay Cross writes about his concept of ‘learnscaping’ over at the Informal Learning Blog:

Informal learning is about situated action, collaboration, coaching, and reflection, not study and reading. Developing a platform to support informal learning is analogous to landscaping a garden. A major component of informal learning is natural learning, the notion of treating people as organisms in nature. Our role as learning professionals is to protect their environment, provide nutrients for growth, and let nature take its course. Self-service learners connect to one another, to ongoing flows of information and work, to their teams and organizations, to their customers and markets, not to mention their families and friends.

Because the design of informal learning ecosystems is analogous to landscape design, I will call the environment of informal learning a learnscape. A landscape designer’s goal is to conceptualize a harmonious, unified, pleasing garden that makes the most of the site at hand. A learnscaper strives to create a learning environment that increases the organization’s longevity and health, and the individual learner’s happiness and well-being. Gardeners don’t control plants; managers don’t control people. Gardeners and managers have influence but not absolute authority. They can’t make a plant fit into the landscape or a person fit into a team.

A learnscape is a learning ecology. It’s learning without borders.

I’ve mentioned ‘creating the ecosystem’ over at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk a couple of times: it’s a metaphor that I think works well when you’re trying to get across the difference between 20th and 21st-century teaching. Educational technology is such now that teachers beyond their first year of teaching should have a bank of digital resources from the teaching experiences of both themselves and others at their disposal. Where they go with their classes should be a negotiation process, never an undemocratic, authoritarian march through a syllabus.

Teachers meeting the needs of 21st-century students need to recognise and celebrate the diversity of interests and motivations of young people. With the opportunities we have on offer to personalize learning there really is no excuse for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to teaching and learning.

How healthy is your learning ecology?

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