Approximately two million learners were enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Canada in the 2016/2017 academic year (Statistics Canada, 2018). That number is likely relatively similar for 2019/2020. Doing some math, if each of those students were enrolled in 3 courses per semester, and each course required one hour of homework and assignment time per week (over 15 weeks) that’s a total of 90 million hours of potential learner co-creation of knowledge. Just in Canada, just in one semester.
In my experience, when educators and administrators discuss the concept of scaling up education, these homework hours rarely enter into the conversation. Many institutions look to technology, digital textbook practice problems, massiveness, adaptiveness, VR, AR, AI, and digital solutions as trends (Brooks and McCormack, 2019; James, n.d), and fail to see the extraordinary potential of human learner resources right in front of them. Audrey Watters (2018) continues to act as a canary in the education coal mine about educational technology and the rhetoric of scale, fighting against statements such as, “Higher education’s biggest concerns are converging with technology’s greatest capabilities. Evidence is mounting that digital technology is a major differentiator and a key to productivity and success within higher education” (Brooks and McCormack, 2019, para. 2).
I believe that it is in the exceptional human capabilities of learners where hope resides for critical thinking and problem solving. Learners are our best possibility to even come close to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/#). The questions I seek to stimulate for educators with my OER20 presentation are, how might you involve learners as co-creators of knowledge conducting research related to the SDGs? If you see potential, will you develop writing, humanities, business, math, chemistry, health sciences, and engineering presentations, projects, and artistic endeavours that in some way incorporate learner awareness and reflection about these critical world-wide challenges? The idea of leveraging homework hours is not a new concept, David Wiley (2013), among others, has been talking about “killing the disposable assignment” for many years.
I propose to create a 7-minute documentary video that speaks to the conference theme of “Caring in Open Education” about the potential of global learners as co-creators of knowledge. Perspectives of learners and educators from as many countries and disciplines as possible will be included to share their ideas on how humans might collaborate to create empowerment and empathy leveraging hundreds of millions of learning practice tasks to help solve global issues.
Brooks, D. C., & McCormack, M. (January 28, 2019). Higher Education’s 2019 Trend Watch & Top 10 Strategic Technologies [Educause report]. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2019/1/higher-educations-2019-trend-watch-and-top-10-strategic-technologies
James, K. (n.d.). Education Trends to Watch in 2019 [online article]. MDR Education. Retrieved from https://mdreducation.com/2019/02/13/education-trends-2019/
Statistics Canada. (November 28, 2018). Canadian postsecondary enrolments and graduates, 2016/2017. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181128/dq181128c-eng.htm
Watters, A. (December 18, 2018). The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2018) [blog post]. Retrieved from http://hackeducation.com/2018/12/18/top-ed-tech-trends-stories
Wiley, D. (2013). What is Open Pedagogy? [blog post]. Retrieved from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975
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