Learning can happen in real life. Learning can also happen in a specially designed learning environment.
No matter whether it is Real Life Learning or artificial learning environment, as for learning, it is essentially about what activities to do and what experiences to generate and how to work with those experiences. Activities (including projects as in project-based learning) and experiences are the life centers in such learning environments (see Life Framework). Regarding activities, it is about interests and playing. Accumulating and reflecting on experiences generated during the playing is what learning is. (People should be able to learn while playing.) Teaching is to provide the map of experiences and immediate feedback to learner-generated experiences. If no teacher, experienced learners can provide part of that function.
Furthermore, being able to choose and navigate freely in those life centers according to one’s own feels are what constitute self-learning. Educators’ responsibility is to provide rich choices and to build up strong life centers that will enable rich interaction and thus free navigation. In other words, Educators’ responsibility is to build up a better playground.
Below we outline basic elements we think can be of a learning environment to make it a Selflearning Platform according to Selflearning Framework.
- First, play with it and know a lot of facts or phenomena
- Build up personal experiences, repeating the experiences of the master
- Review and reflect on experiences, share and discuss
- Make a change to improve things or improve the environment
- Quick and immediate feedback
- Share, the social aspect
- Rich activities
Learning should be driven by intrinsic needs and goals, especially it should be driven by one’s own interests. As learning in real life usually follows this principle naturally, learning in a specially designed environment may not be the case. A Selflearning Platform should be based on learners’ intrinsic needs/goals instead of external ones and learning should be driven by learners’ own interests.
Learning in real life naturally starts with first knowing a lot of facts and phenomena of the subject as those are what form one’s interest in the subject. In a specially designed learning environment, learners should be exposed to a large number of facts and phenomena before starting systemic and theoretic learning on it, e.g. learners should first play with the subject sufficiently.
Learning is to accumulate Significant Experiences in various depth and aspects within the space of the field and to reflect on them in order to achieve a coherent understanding of the whole. Masters of the field usually have gone through this process in their years of practice and learning. In a learning environment, the masters can provide their maps of experiences in the field, which learners can view and choose to build up their own relevant experiences. It is also possible for the masters to design the activities/projects for the learners to work on in order to gain relevant experiences. Masters can even provide feedback to specific experiences generated by the learner.
Significant Experiences gained in the activities need to be reviewed and reflected on periodically so a coherent understanding of the whole can be achieved. Social sharing of those experiences or knowledge built with them can be supported and discussions can be formed.
Being able to make changes to things or environments and improve them is a peacebuilding process in one’s mind. It gives one confidence and calmness. Deep inside everyone lives a craftsman or artist. Furthermore, good learning environments should allow learners to change the learning environment or the learning process itself (or every learner has one’s own learning process). It should also be possible for the learners to contribute the learning material for the subject.
Learning needs quick and immediate feedback. Good environments should be able to provide quick and rich feedback.
Although learning needs individual work and focus, social learning stimulates one’s interests and provides feedback.
A good playground for learning should have rich activities for the learners to choose from so it is always easy for learners to find appropriate activities to work on to keep a continuously flat learning curve. Activities are not limited to projects. For example, student-led course-teaching can be a kind of activities. Judiciary committee meeting or school meeting of Sudbury Valley School is also a kind of activities.
Other than those artificial learning environments, real life is naturally a Selflearning Platform. Elements above can be digitized with software and internet to make Real Life Learning a strong Selflearning Platform.
We envision the future learning will be a mix of Real Life Learning and many artificial learning environments.
The environment can be online or having a physical locality, or mixed. It can be a complete and comprehensive environment such as Sudbury Model schools or Summerhill schools, or it can be an environment for learning one specific skill such as software programming or biology.