Week 7: Scholarship review of Social Learning, ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’, and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning

This week’s reading, “Social Learning, ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’, and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning” by Colin Lankshear delves into the profound changes that are happening or rather should happen in education in the 21st century. The biggest take away from this reading is that the push method of education needs to be changed to the pull method in order to meet the educational needs of students in the digital age.

The push method of education works under the 20th century assumption that educators can anticipate the needs of the students order to become productive thinkers and intellectual contributors to society. Since the advent of the internet and the ever changing landscapes of society John Seely Brown sees this ethos of education as grossly insufficient for today’s young students. Brown believes that the pull method of education where instructors equip students with the ability to think creatively and meet the immediate needs of the community and ever changing society, “[Pull models] help people to come together and innovate in response to unanticipated events, drawing upon a growing array of highly specialized and distributed resources. Rather than seeking to constrain the resources available to people, pull models strive to continually expand the choices available while at the same time helping people to find the resources that are most relevant to them.”

This “Pull” method of education will be a major shift in the way Americans are educated. I cannot speak for other countries but in America I feel that there is such a profound attachment to standardized exams and learning outcomes that we cannot see the bigger picture for our students. The bigger picture is that we cannot forsee the issues and challenges that will face us in 20, 30 or even 40 years when these young students will be running the world. In the ever changing geopolitical and technology driven world the idea that we can push information down their throats is completely misguided, we must groom them to become thinkers that are adaptable and intellectually curious. They must be the Wikipedia of thinkers, constantly improving and ever collaborating and not the static and dated encyclopedia Britannica.

Changing our education system to the pull method of education will require to retrain faculty and K-12 teachers to embrace and new model of instruction where they are not longer the sole source of information but rather they become the facilitators of creative and constructivist learning, giving the students to tools but not the information and allowing them solve the problems that we cannot even see.

My son Wolf was born last week Friday and I think about what kind of world he will grow up in and possibly raise his own family. In 30 years the ice caps will likely be melted, water shortages in California will become the norm; the politics in the Middle East are likely to become even fiercer and there are so many problems that we cannot even foresee; who will we turn to solve these deeply troubling issues? We must turn to the youth, unless they are fully equip with the ability to think in this ever changing world we are possibly screwed. The education system must be improved and we must foster the pull method of education if we are to have a future.