The New Face of Learning

Will Richardson’s article in Edutopia, the publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, is an excellent summary of his experience with the evolution of the web from a read-only word of static pages to a web filled with blogs, wikis and podcasts. The read/write web was the major catalyst to his own fullfillment as a life-long learner.

In this new interactive Web world, I have become a nomadic learner; I graze on knowledge. I find what I need when I need it. There is no linear curriculum to my learning, no formal structure other than the tools I use to connect to the people and sources that point me to what I need to know and learn, the same tools I use to then give back what I have discovered. I have become, at long last, that lifelong learner my teachers always hoped I would become. Unfortunately, it’s about thirty years too late for them to see it.

My ability to easily consume other people’s ideas, share my own in return, and communicate with other educators around the world has led me to dozens of smart, passionate teachers from whom I learn every day. It’s also led me to technologies and techniques that leverage this newfound network in ways that look nothing like what’s happening in traditional classrooms.

This is the world of lifelong learning that adult educators have been longing for at least since the publication of Allen Tough’s 1971 book The Adult’s Learning Projects. (Available as a free download). In 2001, Tough wrote:

I see the Worldwide web as the most exciting development in adult education in the last 30 years. As educators we need to take the web very seriously….

An understatement perhaps?