Learning: Sir Ken, Theatre, Education and Personalized Curriculum

The Link: http://blip.tv/learning-without-frontiers/sir-ken-robinson-march-2011-learning-without-frontiers-4928095

Some quotes:

  • A person graduating from an educational experience must have his confidence improved.
  • Human Resources is like Natural Resources… Individuals have deep talents that are buried deep within their surface, educators need to mine them like other resources.
  • 3 Purposes to education: Personal (connect people to their own sense of possibility, give them sense of creativity, and give them self confidence), Cultural (enable identity, share the identity of other and tolerance) and Economic (must address economic needs and prepare for evolution, prepare ourselves to the challenges of economy.)
  • TV Program to watch: How Many People Can Live on Earth: if everybody consume food and water like a person in Botswana, Earth can handle a population of 15B, if we consume like someone in North America: 1.2B only.
  • HG Wells: civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.

Short Paper 2: Changing roles of educators

Do you agree their roles [educators] are changing? If so, what are appropriate responses?

Yes, obviously, the educators role is changing. I believe that modern educators should assume one of four roles in a given situation:

Educator as a teacher. That is an educator who directs the learner to learn what the teacher knows, in the precise way the teacher wants. For example: teachers at primary levels who teach basic skills like communication, arithmetic and the like; soldiers in the army  the priest who teaches faith; the trainer who trains industrial operations and so on. I might disagree with this category, but the society and economy still needs them. In this category, the educator will assess competency in a specific area or skill. So, the assessment will be based on the level of mastery of the concept and the evaluation is norm based.

Educator as a facilitator: That is an educator who allows learners to grow intellectually based on the learners abilities and actualities. For example: teachers in art disciplines like architecture or design; teachers in elementary education who focus on students abilities and not weaknesses, personal development specialists, clinical psychiatrists, Doctors teaching medical students, etc. In this category, the educator will assess each learner individually without comparison to other learners. The norm evaluation does not apply here.

Educator as a “Connector”: This is a new emerging role that shifting the basis of certainty is driving.  This is an educator who facilitates expanding the “connectivity” of another person– both “brain-wise” and social-wise. In contrast to the two previous categories, the general tendency in this pardigm is that the topic to be taught is irrelevant. The focus is on incremental knowledge acquired by the learner, no matter what the topic is. For example, a primary school teacher training students on acquiring knowledge when needed and as needed without memorizing it; a trainer who helps adult to break out from the traditional learning habits (i.e. learning happens in classroom or libraries) to become a learner through interacting with individuals or Internet entities through new habits of using technology. This new role necessitates the creation of new assessment models that assess the level of expansion in the person’e network. This is still in its infancy.

Educator as a phantom: This is a new concept that I find difficulty explaining. With the emergence of the concept that knowledge resides in human and in machines, I cannot imagine why we need educators. People and machines should be able to learn on their own. They do not need educators as long as they have developed themselves to be “connected”. This is why I believe any learner who graduate from the third category (i.e. Educator as a “Connector”) will not need any more educators to build new knowledge. Right?

Note: For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term “traditionalist” to refer to the learners influenced by the first two roles, and the “Connectivist” to refer to learners influenced by the last two roles. Whether a person can be both types is out of the scope of this post.

What are impediments to change?

In my opinion, change has happened already. Nothing can stop it. “Connectivists” are around us. They are effective in Wikipedia, working in the Open Source realm, and recently, they were revolting in Egypt. However, three factors are slowing the process of recognizing and accepting the change:

(1) Each compares each other using the wrong rules. Each type condemsn the other type based on their own value set. Traditionalists have many argument why connectivists will never prevail because they are not connectivists themselves and they do not have connectivist attitude nor competancies. Conversely, connectivists find traditionalists wastes so much time on learning information that is obsolete. It is like the traditions “The West is the West and the East is the East and they will never meet!”.

(2) The strong drive of the people concerned to have a single unified system that works in all situation, where only one method should prevail. In other words, the need to have a system that fits to the accepted norm. I think following “Give God what is for God, and Caesar what is for Caesar” model is far more effective.

(3) The two type refuse to interact together. For example, a “Connectivist” will never participate in a course like MOOC (and if they do, they drop out quickly) because they find such a course too limiting. While a traditionalis will not get involved in an activity like Wikipedia because it defies their basic beliefs.

How can current trends be best utilized to serve in the traditional role of educator or designer?

For the traditional educator role, the best approach is to do nothing. The “Connectivist” group did not reach a critical mass to induce a  global change (except in Egypt!). When their number is large enough, the change will be more prominent.

On the designer front, I think we need to evolve existing models, like Bloom’s taxonomy, to include a “connectivist” level with a new set of action verbs that address the activities of “collaboration”, “connectivism”,  “mining for information”, “use of technology” and so on. I think this should be a Phd level research which is too much for this post.

Take this opportunity to enjoy a creative stroll in rethinking “what could be”.

My “Would be” scenario is to ensure that educators at the pre-high school level to be a “teacher/connector” type who focus on teaching the basic communication and intellectual skills, at the same time, train the young children how to become connected. At high school, educators should be less teachers role and more connectors. After high school, learners choose can one of three paths:

(1) either join  a “teaching college”  where they are taught specific concept of their choice through pure teaching (like in Priesthood, Army or apprenticeship),

(2) Join univeristies where learner receive facilitation to grow personally and intellectually OR

(3) Choose to learn on their own through connective approaches based on the talents they have already mastered and developed. Usually these will be the one who will make te esay money. Watch “Social Media” movie.



  • Anderson, Terry, (2011), “Three Generation of Distant Education“, presentation website, last accessed on 10 March 2011.
  • Araya, Daniel (E), Peters Michael (E), (2010), “Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation” Published by Peter Lang Pub, ISBN 9781433107443
  • Tapscott, Don (2010), “Macroeconimics”, Published by Penguin Group USA, ISBM 1591843561
  • Tapscott, Don (2009), “Grown up Digitally” Published by McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978007150863



باختصار الجواب : لا أعتقد أن دور المعلمين سيتغير. اعتقد انه سيكون هناك مهنة جديدة

Detect language » Arabic

Customizing Teaching for Personalized Learning

Philosophy Statements about Teaching and Learning, v. 4.1

I. Abstract

In my opinion, the best instruction is the 1-1 approach. Not in the traditional sense where a teacher teaches one student. This is not feasible using traditional teaching methods. In an ideal teaching scenario, the learners need to have “customized”, “personalized” and “individualized” teaching that caters for their learning style and talent through the innovative use of technology in all its facets. This applies in the face-to-face setting as well as online teaching.

II. Concepts and Values

This post highlights the set of values and definitions that governs my philosophy about teaching and learning. It includes a set of practices I follow when designing as well as delivering my courses, whether face-to-face or online.

Role of Teachers: Following Entwisted (1990) line of thought, I believe that the primary professional responsibility of teachers, trainers and online courses is to maximise the learning opportunities of their learners. Some would use the term “facilitator” but I still like to use the traditional term, teacher, with added contemporary connotations.

Learning, Information and Knowledge: Information, knowledge and their relation to learning is one of the vaguest concepts in the literature (Fox, 1991). Harris supplied the definition which is closest to my heart:

“knowledge is private, while information is public. Knowledge, therefore, cannot be communicated; only information can be shared. Whenever an attempt to communicate knowledge is made, it is translated into information, which other learners can choose to absorb and transform into knowledge, if they so desire” (Harris, 1995, p.1)

According to this description, I believe that learning is the process of personalizing information and experience thus creating knowledge. Collective knowledge includes skills, attitudes and beliefs. Teachers’ role is to create the desire in the learner to absorb and transform the information and experience into their own knowledge.

Assessment: is defined as “the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs” (Wikipedia, Assessment). I believe that this definition mixes up between knowledge and information. In my courses, I like to define assessment as “the process of documenting, usually in qualitative terms, the incremental knowledge attained during the teaching process”. How to do this? I have few ideas that I hope will be firmed in version 5 of my philosophy.

Curriculum: I like to categories the curriculum into two types: the regulated curriculum where outcomes are clearly quantified and regulated (like army training, government regulated courses, professional tests) and free-form curriculum where the outcomes depends on the learners’ achievement within clear guidelines (example: art classes, architecture and medicine). I believe courses in the regulated curriculum address learning at the information level. Free form courses tackle the learning at the knowledge level. Each of these two types requires different teaching styles and methodologies. The difference is recognized in the design and delivery of each type, although, personally, I avoid handling regulated courses as an online course.

Learning Spaces: Brown (2005) used the term “Learning Spaces” to replaces the traditional classroom term. I like to use the same term to indicate any space that induces learning in individuals: a classroom, my office, a cafe, over the phone, on a forum, blog, wikipage, online, offline, and all the new medium of learning that is available.

Learning Styles: My teaching recognizes that individuals learn in multitude of ways. Consequently, the process of creating the desire in learners to learn should match the learners’ style. The literature offers at least 13 different schools of thought in this area (Coffield et al, 2004). Out of these schools, I find that Allinson and Hayes Cognitive Style Index to be the most suitable because it has “the best psychometric credentials” (Coffield et al, 2004, p139). I believe, to use learning styles as motivators to learning, I must include other factors like the set of intelligences acquired by the learner (Gardner et al,1995) and the set of strengths that determines their talent (Clifton & Nelson, 1992). My teaching should include drivers that ignite the learning desire based on the learners’ profile. Technology makes achieving this approach more plausible. I find the 4MAT approach to learning styles (McCarthy, 1990) the most suitable. This approach advocates that teaching should:

(1) Promote self reflecting, analysing, and experiencing.
(2) Inspire transitioning of information into knowledge
(3) Allow the individuals to digest and create content
(4) Encourage learners to express themselves

And I like to add a fifth one:

(5) Facilitate creation of knowledge through collective collaboration and network communication (Tapscott and Williams, 2010)

Learning Theories: As outlined by Anderson in his CIDER Webinar of April 2010, effective teaching should apply a mix of learning theories (behaviorism, cognitive, constructive and connectivism). I am a strong believer in this approach.

Generational Differences: Tapscott (2008) coined the term NetGen to describe individuals who were born in the digital age. I agree with him that NetGen learns in ways different than what traditional education is able to offer. Consequently, my delivery will recognize the different learning drivers dichotomies as presented by Coffield, (2004).

Parallel Education: As suggested by Brown (2010) and McGonigal (2010), new learning paradigms are emerging where the younger generation are building their knowledge outside the traditional educational systems. Some refer to this as the parallel education. The learning in this paradigm is naturally motivated and based on discovering personal talents through “virtual-real-life” experiences in areas not recognized in the traditional educational understanding. In my courses, I need to identify learners who are following this approach and encourage them to exploit it in the learning of the material. This is not easy especially that the concept is new. Maybe it will be the core driver for my philosophy version 5!

Technology in Learning: In my educational realm, technology helps to customize, individualize and personalize learning. For many thousand years, human learned based on one-to-one teaching (Toffler, 1980) until the industrial evolution came up with the idea of mass production that shaped our present educational system (West, 2001). This method is becoming obsolete to meet the new challenges (Tapsott & Wilson, 2010). With the advancement of the technology, we can go back to the natural way of human learning, i.e. one-to-one by customizing teaching to satisfy individualistic learning drivers through online courses and activities.

Continuous Improvement: My courses will always contain learners feedback to continuously evaluate means of improvement. This philosophy will continuously evolve based on new discoveries, emerging technologies, my acquired knowledge and interactions with my learners.

III. References

Brown, D., (2010), An Open Letter to Educators, YouTube Video.

Brown M., (2005), Learning Spaces, Educating the Net Generation, Educause eBooks.

Clifton, D. O., & Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with Your Strengths, Dell Publishing.

Coffield, F. J., Moseley D. V., Hall .E & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre/University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Entwistle, N.J. (1998). Improving teaching through research on student learning. In JJF Forrest (ed.) University teaching: international perspectives. New York: Garland.

Fox, S. (1991). The production and distribution of knowledge through open and distance learning. In D. Hylnka & J. C. Belland (Eds.), Paradigms regained: The uses of illuminative, semiotic and post-modern criticism as modes of inquiry in educational technology. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M. L., & Wake W. K. (1995). Intelligence: multiple perspectives, Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Judi H. (1995). Educational Telecomputing Projects: Information Collections, The Computing Teacher journal, published by the International Society for Technology in Education.

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. TED Presentation.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, The McGraw-Hill.

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time!, EDUCAUSE

Toffler, A., (1989). The Third Wave, Bantam Books.

West, E. G. (2001). Education and the Industrial Revolution, Liberty Fund Inc.

Wikipedia, Assessment, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assessment

Zukas, M., & Malcolm, J. (2002). Pedagogies for lifelong learning: building bridges or building walls? In R Harrison, F Reeve, A Hanson and J Clarke (eds) Supporting lifelong learning. London: Routledge/Open University.

IV. Appendix: History of the versions of My Philosophy

Version 1: articulated in 1981: The focus was on curriculum and teaching.
Version 2: articulated in 1992: The focus was student learning and success.
Version 2.5: articulated in 1996: The focus included the use of Technology.
Version 3: articulated in 2000: Constructivist concepts were adopted.
Version 3.5: articulated in 2008: Web 2.0 concepts were included.

Week 3, Q1 Revisited: Assessment

I know that Question 1 asked for “the single most significant difference between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment” and I replied: Learning Ownership. But I believe there are more than one significant difference. So, in the name of “changing my mind and evolving my thought”, I want to retract my initial answer and say that it is the “Assessment”.

The Face to face assessment is reliable in the sense that we have certainty about who is doing the work. While, with online courses, there is no way to know who is the person doing the work. For example, I might be my son taking the course on behalf of my father so he can have advanced credential in a topic that he is not competent with it. Right?

This imposes a serious doubt about the validity of the online credentials. Your thoughts!

PS: Sorry I gave two “single most significant difference”, but I could not keep my mouth shut!

References: 1, 2