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Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler is a Learning Innovations Consultant and former Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the Plymouth Institute of Education where he chaired the Learning Futures group and led the Computing and science education teams. He continues to research into technology supported learning and distance education, with particular emphasis on the pedagogy underlying the use of social media and Web 2.0 technologies, and also has research interests in mobile learning and cybercultures. He has given keynotes to audiences in more than 35 countries and is author of more than 150 scholarly articles, with over 6000 academic citations. An active and prolific edublogger, his blog Learning with ‘e’s is a regular online commentary on the social and cultural impact of disruptive technologies, and the application of digital media in education, learning and development. In the last few years it has attracted in excess of seven million unique visitors.

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Publications by Steve Wheeler

Learning with ‘e’s

In an age where young people seem to have a…

Don’t Change the Light Bulbs

Curated by Rachel Jones, Don’t Change the Light Bulbs offers…

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Change, Learning Technologies, and the future

February 17 2019

Daniel Susskind - Photo by Steve Wheeler

All change! Attending Learning Technologies in a completely new, yet strangely familiar venue was quite an experience. It was akin to welcoming an old friend to live in your own home and watching them struggle to work out where the coffee is stored, and how the dodgy 'fridge door works. London ExCel has long been the home of the BETT Show, which I have attended on many occasions, but in the last few days it has also been the new home of Learning Technologies, which for umpteen years has been hosted at Olympia, on the other side of the city. ExCel is very familiar to me, but for the conference, it will take a little time to adapt.

I arrived with a great deal of anticipation, because Learning Technologies always holds a lot of promise. And it didn't disappoint. I want to note some of the reasons why Learning Technologies is set to grow and gain more importance as it makes the ExCel Centre its new home.

Firstly, there are the people. They travel from everywhere to be together for two days of intense discussing, thinking, collaborating and creating. So many great experts and professionals gather each year from all corners of the globe, and the dialogue is so rich, it is hard not to see Learning Technologies continuing to grow and remain relevant. Old friends I met with include Andrew Jacobs, Jane Hart, David Wilson, Ger Driesen, Jo Cook, Niall Gavin, Laura Overton, Andy Wooler, Nigel Paine, Annie Garfoot and Michael Strawbridge, and from across the pond Jane Bozarth, Will Thalheimer, Cathy Moore, Shannon Tipton and Marcia Connor. It was also great to make new friends, including Hannah Gore, Ezzy Moon, Mirjam Neelen, Trish Uhl, Barbara Thompson, Nik Welch and Anthony Williams. These are all great people who deserve larger audiences for their ideas..... and.... I have probably left out loads of people, for which I apologise!

The there is the content. Here are just a few of the standout highlights: The opening address by Dr Daniel Susskind (Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, pictured above) titled: The future of work: technology, myths and the importance of learning. In this erudite and fast paced presentation Daniel discussed how the working world of the future might be shaped by new and emerging technologies. He scotched several of the myths around the introduction of robotics and AI in organisations, and argued that work will be very different in the future from what we know today. He showed that anxieties about change and new technologies have always been with us, but that we adapt and change to meet the challenges continually. He concluded by stating that these changes will not mean the demise of corporate learning and development, but will mean that learning at the point of work will be even more important for the survival of our organisations.

Other stand out sessions also dealt with digital transformation (Euan Semple), new and emerging trends and technologies (Redthread's Dani Johnson, E-learning Guild's David Kelly), AR and VR in action (Ryan Peterson, James Barton), Digital learning innovation (Rob Hubbard) and game design in L and D (Karl Kapp). As ever there were far more sessions to attend than could humanly be possible, but following the excellent backchannel team led by Fosway's Kate Graham helped everyone to keep track of what was going on in sessions they couldn't physically attend. Each session had its own hashtag, but the generic hashtag to seek on Twitter for a summary of everything is #LT19uk.

Finally, my personal view is that Learning Technologies is growing in influence, and in particular, with many new delegates attending for the first time, word is getting around that the event is valuable for learning and development professionals worldwide. The scope for expansion of the event is massive. LT19uk only took up one 8th of the space available for exhibitions, and the conference rooms occupied are also a fraction of those available within the vast building. It would only be a lack of innovation and imagination on the part of the organisers that would prevent the event from growing, both in influence and numbers. But event chair Donald H Taylor and his organising team have more than enough of both, so I predict Learning Technologies has a bright future.

Creative Commons License
Change, Learning Technologies, and the future by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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#3quotes from Holt

February 13 2019

Image from Wikimedia Commons
In this series called #3quotes I have been citing directly from the texts of education thinkers, because it is important to apply ideas within context. Too often, writers cite from theorists without delving into the original texts. In this post I feature the American educator John Holt. Holt was best known for his progressive approach to education, and his criticisms of state-funded school systems. I have drawn three quotes from his 1983 classic How Children Learn (first published in 1964) and have added some additional commentary.

Holt sees a steady decline in the quality of state-funded schools, seeing them as industrialised processes where children are a part of the product of what is termed 'education'. Referring to the time when he wrote his original edition of the book, he says:

"Schools are on the whole bigger than they used to be, more depersonalised, more threatening, more dangerous. What they teach is more fragmented than it was [...] i.e. not connected with anything else, and hence meaningless. [...] The schools cling more and more stubbornly to their mistaken idea that education and teaching are industrial processes, to be designed and planned from above in the minutest detail and then imposed on passive teachers and their even more passive students." (Preface xiii)

Holt offers up several remedies for this malaise, essentially through the development of better relationships between children and teachers, and more effective, child-centred methods of pedagogy. He sees the great value of games of any kind, which children understand, and how these can be incorporated into formalised learning. He relates the story of one little girl called Lisa, who invented a simple game of placing and replacing an object, that he joined in with:

"But even in a more narrow sense games like those I played with Lisa are educational. They give a child a strong sense of cause and effect, of one thing leading to another. Also, they help a child to feel that he makes a difference, that he can have some effect on the world around him. How exciting it must be for a child, playing a game with an adult, to feel that by doing a certain thing, he can make that omnipotent giant do something, and that he can keep this up for as long as he likes." (p 34)

Holt saw the need to differentiate between the learning we do as adults and that experienced by very young children. Schooling in its widest terms, he believed, was damaging to children because it taught them to be less intuitive and prevented them from freely exploring their world.

"Where the young child, at least until his thinking has been spoiled by adults, has a great advantage is in situations - and many, even most real life situations are like this - where there is so much seemingly senseless data that it is impossible to tell what questions to ask. He is better at taking in this kind of data; he is better able to tolerate its confusion; and he is much better at picking out the patterns, hearing the faint signal amid all the noise." (p 75)

Holt's work has been criticised and praised in equal measure. His progressive stance is not every teacher's ideal, but he invariably presented keen insight into the ways children learn, based on his own personal research and observations.

Holt, J. (1983) How Children Learn (Revised Edition), New York: De Capo Press.

Previous posts in the #3quotes series
Paulo Freire
Ivan Illich
John Dewey
Lev Vygotsky
Maria Montessori
Carl Rogers

Creative Commons License
#3quotes from Holt by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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