It’s been a funny week. For some reason a recurring theme has been comprised of both ‘history repeats’ and ‘why don’t we learn from history?’ Not necessarily in those words but some of this is fuelled by my having to tackle mountains of research papers that stretch back 20 years and are currently taking over much of the dining and lounge rooms – ideas that never got full exposure or were before their time.
For example a recent discussion on new iPad apps for learning quickly turned into an explanation of the thinking about rich media, interaction and engagement was done in the early 1990’s where we drew from many influences including psychology, painting and even theatre. I still think Brenda Laurel’s thinking on that hasn’t finished playing itself out, especially on the design of things like digital exhibitions and learning spaces. Then you see iPads issued to kids sitting in rows as if it were 1899.
A separate conversation extrapolating the new world facing Universities of nimble outsourced players, distributed students and intermittent engagement bringing the Universities to be brands, assessing authorities and at the core a return to the Oxbridge model of 500 years ago. Similarly, the implication of a design-driven economy on an appropriate capability network to support it. Some answer seems to have been there long ago in crafts, guilds etc. but what is the modern equivalent and where does this intersect with education and workforce learning?
Not that all of the answers lie in the past, some things around us are new and unique.
Its more about casting an eye across a range of options, some of which can be drawn from the past or from different fields, circumstances and even conditions. What seems to be happening is that many decisions (and the people making them) are so overwhelmed by complexity, change and speed that considering the past is an option too far. Yet considering how someone else has resolved an issue before, making logical links to similar circumstances and even seeking inspiration from the past can all contribute hugely to dealing with today’s thorny issues. This is where the notion of using the capability network and a framework for evaluation to support complex decisions and strategy is essential. It is this thinking that is helping EF develop an evaluation framework for learning technology in different contexts. More on this project soon.