I’m currently at the Blended Learning Unit conference in Hatfield, with Heather and Malcolm from DMU. We are presenting on the impact of new tools on our PGCertHE and M-level Pharmacists. I’ve discussed formal and informal education, participation and association with some great guys from Ravensbourne, who have a lovely model for understanding the connections between tools, users and spaces. I’ll be following that one up.
However, I also attended a session on vlogging by Myles Dyer, a second-year Psychologist at Herts who uses YouTube to “have the chance to inspire”. The man is a real inspiration and the kind of student and social leader who should be cherished. He made me realise how fortunate I am to be involved in a business where we get to engage with the energy and drive of young people.
Myles uses YouTube to speak to the world and to connect with, and crucially to understand, networks of others on a range of issues that are personal to him. His channel focuses upon acceptance, investigation, discussion and adaptation of concepts, views, knowledge and values. Myles highlighted two important, political statements for me:
- “this type of work helps us to develop as people”;
- “[I work and collaborate] in the hope that people will be true to themselves”.
In this view Myles is opening up spaces for people [him] to becomes themselves [himself] and relate to others and take meaningful action. This is powerful stuff, beyond the banalities of “me and my learning environment”, towards a progressive, hopeful pedagogy, to which Friere, Barnett, Illich and Sachs could all sign up.
Both Myles and Ruth/Roger from Ravensbourne made me think that we desperately need to rethink our curriculum, in order to move away from a nineteenth century factory model towards an engagement with those Web2.0 mindsets and approaches that are afforded by a raft of personal as social tools, notably:
- an extended, critical user-focus;
- meaningful, active participation;
- networking; and
Myles highlighted how his creation of videos had made him thoughtful about his relationship with others, and how he presented himself, and how he evaluated academic and non-academic knowledge. It had enabled him to make better decisions and take meaningful actions. Myles’ talk reinforced to me the powerful impact of Web 2.0, or the read/write web, on learner agency in educational environments that are at once connected and networked and informal and formal. Grasping these affordances is a crucial part of education as a democratic, political project, and in empowering our students’ through facilitating their development of personal literacies.