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Monday, 21 April 2014

A new educators journal "EML" for the web age - what will it offer ?

A new online journal Educating Modern Learners (EML) under editorship of Audrey Watters of HackEducation launched last week.

Premise: the objectives of education in the web age are paradigmatically different from all that has preceded. Access has changed everything (although schools tend to little more than distribute devices and logins). The learning process itself is changing and schools are losing their role in it. The learners themselves will be driving learning. The new fundamental right of each learner (which it is now a school's job to enable) is the opportunity to learn on their own. Not any more the right to be taught or have materials. The journal hopes to help school leaders to make better decisions as they write this new narrative.

My friend Doug Belshaw has written one of the first edition articles, looking at what it means to be a literate web user.

The time has come to move beyond discussions of whether the web, social networks, and mobile devices are inherently “good” or “bad.” Debates about whether such things can (or should) be used for learning drag on while the next generation cobble together their own understanding of an increasingly blended online/offline world. It’s time we as educators stepped up and taught more than just “e-safety.” It’s time we started facilitating learning experiences around reading, writing, and participation on the web.

One challenge to educators I like is that they need to rethink the process of participation. The old model of taking a role in the learning process through "joining in" has different meanings now, if EML's premise is correct. Maybe schools and educators will have to rethink how they assess engagement too. Thinking about Learning Analytics, too, would have to develop.

Based last week in Poland (Poland is a top scoring country in the PISA rankings now, has long ago overtaken the USA) and sanity-testing this radical educational rethink on the schooling of my very bright niece Milena (14) who is in secondary education here I note two different kinds of participation have really worked for her.

One is the old fashioned class based one. An upcoming school trip to Paris next week has her bubbling with engagement.

The other participation that has transformed her has been an online community of Manga and Anime writers. Her Anime blog is the most read in the Polish language, a huge motivator for a young teenager.

So I'd give a partial endorsement to the EML mission. But we are still in transition, and for young people the teacher and classroom as locus of traditional socialisation-based learning is still a big deal.

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