Reflecting on the “future of learning in a networked world”


The Future of Learning in a Networked World (FLNW) traveling open space conference finished on Friday. Much has been blogged, moblogged, video-ed, audio-ed, and written, and everyone will have their own meanings and perspectives….. I guess the significant outcome for me is that I’ve started blogging again! Leigh and Rose both made good arguments for the continuation of the email discussions by blog , and I think they’re right. The email discussions on the Google group were intense and provocative but networked learning needs to happen in the wider network – not on a group list (if I understand Stephen’s view of networked learning correctly)…….

I took the picture on the last day – walking back from the Museum Hotel along the waterfront where I delivered Barbara’s trousers, and reflecting on the unfolding discussion about the groups vs networks issue (sometimes hotly) debated on the tour. The quote is from the NZ playwright Bruce Mason and is part of the Wellington Writers Walk. It linked in my mind in some way to debates on the tour about the nature of groups, networks, coteries, ritual, spaces – there were indeed some magical moments. Seeing Terry Barnett (NorthTec Chief Executive) immersed in a Second Life workshop with Jo and Sean, me playing guitar with Sparker and Rose, Teemu skyping home for breakfast in Finland, a really challenging and affirming debate on our CeLDD course, new connections between NZ Flexible Learning Leaders and the Australian FLLs on the tour (see more of my own photos) …. and just the general stir and excitement that the conference created.

As I mentioned at the Thursday evening gathering, we shouldn’t under-estimate the significance of the (un)conference. It may have disrupted some traditional conceptions of what a conference is, but overall I think it was true to its theme and image – the bee hopping across NZ, buzzing, pollinating, linking.

I wore several hats during the tour – participant, sponsor, organiser, provocateur, and I won’t attempt now to evaluate or sum up the significance from all those different perspectives. Like everyone else I need some time to reflect, digest, absorb. My intitial impression though is that the tour did show quite convincingly that there is a whole new world of learning emerging, and there is much that we have to (re)think about at many different levels in NZ education – pedagogy, practice, policy, purse-strings, …. I for one will continue to explore this here at Flexilearn as I get this blog into shape.

On an ordinary human level though, I just want to thank the tour for their energy and commitment to the vision, and for seeing it through to the end. Thanks to Leigh for your courage in making it happen; to Teemu for wisdom grounded in Finnish tradition and new media design; Konrad for new insights into the ZPD; Sparker, Rose, Sean, Jo, Alex, Marg, and Michael (whom I didn’t get to meet) for forging closer connections across the ditch; Barbara for bee-ing there; and Stephen for making me think (of which more in the next post).

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Reflecting on the “future of learning in a networked world”

  1. Hi Stanley. I am really happy that you are satisfied the FLNW lived up to its (un)promises. I want to thank you for your strong and generous support for the idea – right from the outset. Let’s keep this ball rolling – let’s keep blogging, let’s be controversial, let’s build NZ networks, and let’s forge a path forward.

    My goals:
    To invert the power and hierarchies of our institutions so that workers feel enabled and supported, not over shadowed and subordinate.
    To then encourage individualism and networked relations.
    To achieve free wireless internet for NZ.
    To achieve free and unlimited online archiving for all in NZ.

    Will refine that a bit 😉

  2. Noony says:

    Hi Stanley, I just want to add a perspective to one of your stmtaeents (1. above): The traditional role of the teacher as the transmitter of knowledge is over. We are all equal no more groups, no more unequal power relations, no more hierarchies. Perhaps it might be more accurate to suggest that the role of the teacher solely as transmitter of knowledge is subsumed into more of a holistic role, as a high-status member of a *network* made up of ontological equals. True, we are all equal but we are not all the same. All perspectives are valuable, but some perspectives are more valuable than others; this will only become exacerbated in the first scenario you suggest. The implications of this for power relations depends on the openness of those with recognised expert knowledge (which needn’t necessarily be attributed to those with the highest qualification!) It would be interesting to see whether the default of no more hierarchies’ would hold for long, given that particular levels of debate and emergent group (or network ) norms would encourage participation by some but not necessarily by others. A fully egalitarian society has its critics. Power and hierarchies in such societies still tends to exist, just not explicitly. Political egalitarianism and material egalitarianism have their problems and internal contradictions; educational egalitarianism will as well, even if it could be realised. the problem is not necessarily one of systems, more of huuman nature. In short, if we were ever able to start scenario 1, chances are it would soon degenerate into something similar to what we have now a small group of active participants, with a large group of read-only participants. Power structures and hierarchies tend to be implicit rather than explicit even a community as open as TALO has a very small number of active participants. Could it be so because of implicit power relationships and hierarchies? Not a dig at TALO far from it, I am learning so much from it but rather an example that even in very open communities structures, power and hierarchies are still present. For what it’s worth I’m also looking forward to digesting Stephen’s IT Forum article. I especially appreciate the way he’s linked to various sites to provide further insight into where he is coming from. Mark.

Comments are closed.