Robin Good: The Future Of Learning Is Informal And Mobile: A Video Interview With Teemu Arina. A *must read* (there's a transcript). The core topic? Informal Learning. From the transcript:
Teemu Arina: If you try to support informal learning it easily becomes formal learning. I think you can invest in a sort of structures that support informal learning. Say, you can build piazzas like here in Rome, where people can meet and share informal conversations. But you can’t really draw a map or a clear path on how people are going to learn informally. It’s just about building an environment that supports informal interaction. … Along with social software, wikis and blogs are very often considered informal learning tools by educational technology experts. When I look inside organizations I see these tools as something that counter taylorist technologies like groupware and intranets, where the control is mainly on the management side (for example the IT department). I am more into considering social software as something that can support informal interaction: it can help getting things done when the formal processes fail. From that point of view, I see blogs as tools that support reflective practice. When you do something you have to stop and reflect, you have to learn something: wikis are about putting those reflections together in the collective action. That’s important for building new knowledge, new ideas and understand what to do next.
Robin Good: What about mobile learning? What is it? Is it coming?
Teemu Arina: … I think it’s coming. I think it’s integrating with the informal learning space, because being mobile means that the context is around you. You are not saying things in a classroom out of context, you are not sitting in a formal course within an organization but you are actually there, where you need to be. You need to apply the context to the context itself. I think that’s what mobile learning does: it enables us to utilize the context in a better way. … connecting the virtual and the physical spaces … that’s where I think informal learning is currently failing in the educational technology field: we are not giving enough importance to the meaning of physical spaces and piazzas for meeting. When we see mobile technologies, social technologies and physical spaces intersecting very well, I think that’s when we see what true learning is all about.
Robin Good: You're basically advocating something that would appear to be normal life as it should be?
Teemu Arina: Kind of… But I think the role of teachers is still there: they help people learn more quickly than they could without them. They are guides with a lamp showing the right path to follow. We are going back to the ancient times of platonic-style conversations, which means having conversations with people who help you come out with ideas by asking the right questions. … When mobile learning and informal learning intersect it’s like typical life and I think it’s the direction we should go to. The industrial revolution generated the need for structures that were useful: but in the future I think we have gone too far, seeing people – as Max Weber would say – as cogs in machines. People like little cogs trying to get into larger cogs. We need to integrate the human in the machine as well. It’s not really people becoming machines but the other way around: it’s the machines being more human. That’s different, that’s not just life, it’s also technology… And I think the right use of technology is for social interaction.
Robin Good: … How could I drive ahead of the curve within my organization so that this type of thing starts to happen also here?
Teemu Arina: I think there are certain things you need to do. One is to increase serendipity, which is accidental interaction between people, perhaps by creating very effective “third places”. I mean places between the home – which is the first place – and work or school – which are second places. The third place is where you can escape school, the demands of your family and the demands of your manager to share meaningful conversations. A place which is not connected by technology, in which people meet each other and are able to interact on topics over different fields. If you invest in such environments where you can have such conversations with your employees, that’s when you start to come up with ideas from different mindsets than your own. It’s very easy to have a tunnel-shaped vision of thinking when you are looking for rational argumentations inside your organization. You have to look for new environments existing outside your organization and let people go there and share different conversations. …
Robin Good: If you could magically make a miracle, what would be the one thing you would change in the world of learning?
Teemu Arina: Just one thing: probably the mindset of learners, shifting the mindset from collecting points and collecting rewards to actually learning things. I see universities and school full of people who are just there, not really interested in what they are doing but just considering the school system an interruption of their lives in order to get what they really want. When they are there they are wasting their time on things that they are probably not interested in. So the major shift I want to do is that people could work on what they are interested in and understand the value of it.
So much here that has been on my mind for months and months. Great gratitude to Robin and Teemu for this.