AFTER 11 CONSECUTIVE years delivering third level programmes in Ireland, I have abruptly brushed up against students who remain firmly preoccupied with cookbook exercises, grades, lessons by presentation slides, and credits on transcripts. These conventions arise as part of the the grammar of education in Ireland but for most of the last 10 years, I have taken a creative approach to how I filled my role in higher education. My approach is being challenged at the moment, both from the trenches and from the upper levels. While I know I will have my way, I'm left a little exposed as I plough my own field. That would be a field of knowledge speckled with technology, with cheap data connections linked to treasure troves of reading material and with easy collaboration between fellow students and lecturers. It is a field that has grown as a result of an intellectual revolution. By playing in this field, collaborative skills emerge, sharing gains in respect and connections emerge between school and community.
In my current job, I believe I serve the greater good by considering my place of work as primarily a learning environment, not as a third level institution or organisation. By focusing on cultivating the learning environment, I can elegantly bend the curriculum to blend with the wealth of our emergent digital information network.
This is clearly a new culture of learning. And as students in their final two years of a BSc degree will see, this new culture imposes a fundamentally different production system than they might have expected in the industrial era. Instead of the industrial era's vertical and horizontal integration within a bureaucracy, the culture of learning that I embrace is essentially a network. Its success depends upon webs of expertise spun around relationships between peers.
Since I believe in this new culture of learning, I have changed the paradigm from teaching to learning. This has opened me to challenges from peers and students. In my present position, a major reorganisation this summer will impose a political decision on Tipperary Institute. Unwavering faith in market solutions and data‐driven decisions will prevail as we fold into the Limerick Institute of Technology. When the dust settles and new eyes look at classroom practical exercises and instructional techniques, I could be called to question about how I have redesigned learning. That would be a normal result because those who teach are meant to conform to approved structures and to follow standard operating procedures.
Fortunately, I cut my teeth in the largest office bulding in the States. I know how organisational dynamics work. I am adept at systems design and the politics of institutional change. And I feel very empowered with my persuasive and creative skills.
Charles Taylor Kerchner -- "A New Culture of Learning: John Dewey Meets the Internet"
John Seely Brown -- A New Culture of Learning ISBN 978-1456458881