Learning Communities:

Learning Communities:

It is interesting to note that historically, education in India was managed by the community and it was a job rather well done. We were the most prosperous country till about 250 years ago, and it is worth taking a look at Macaulay’s statement on February 2, 1835 in the British Parliament:

“I have travelled the length and breadth of India and I did not meet a single person who was a thief. I have seen such affluence in that country, such competent individuals and such talent that I do not think we will be able to conquer that land so long as we do not break its cultural and ethical backbone. I therefore state that we change the ancient education system and culture of India because if the inhabitants of India begin to think that the ideas and thoughts of foreigners, of Englishmen, are better than and

 superior to their own, then they will lose their culture and self-respect and they will become a dependent nation, which is what we need.”

Mahatma Gandhi referred to this in his Chatham House speech in London on October 20th 1931, before a select audience said “I say without figures of mine being successfully challenged that India today is more illiterate than it was 50 or 100 years before, and so is Burma, because the British administrators when they came to India, instead of looking at things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root and left the root as it is and let the beautiful tree perish”.

While this has been widely circulated, there are some who contest the veracity of the statement attributed to McCauley. 

At present, education is almost entirely driven by the Government. Education in India is primarily a State matter although there are several elements in the concurrent list. The Right to Education Act takes this further in prescribing free and compulsory Government provided schooling from ages 6 to 14. There are enough indicators that by and large this education system is a failed system, even with the changes sought to be made by the NEP2020. 

We are in complex rapidly changing times, and the command and control system is no longer an effective and efficient one. 

Sometime before 1989, a Soviet official asked economist Paul Seabright who was in charge of London’s bread supply. Seabright gave him an answer that is comical but also true: ‘nobody’. The bread we eat turns up on our tables thanks to an incredible team effort (bakers, machinists, electricity suppliers, distributors etc etc). And even more incredibly, there is no-one in charge of that team.

It just happens.

The future of education will also be with learning communities, and not multiple bureaucracies. In the future  we are likely to be in  a situation when harnessing the cognitive surplus of the community would deal with the educational challenges of the country much more effectively than the low quality State apparatus. Prof. Elinor Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson, for “her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. She was the first woman to win the prize in this category. Her work was associated with the new institutional economics and the resurgence of political economy. She passed away on June 12th, 2012 but will long be remembered for convincing demonstrations that people can work together to do what neither the Government nor the private Corporates can. The ‘tragedy of the commons‘ enunciated by Garret Harding is giving way to the wisdom of the crowds in the post Internet World.

Maybe in another decade or so, the Nobel Prize winning ideas of Prof. Elinor Ostrom, with teachers and learners deploying the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will create  a community led education that serves the good of the community. May be Swami Vivekanand’s exhortation of ‘Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached’ is what we have to follow.

There is a famous quote  from Simon Sinek : A community is a group of people who agree to grow together. 

According to the Wikipedia a learning community is a group of people who share common academic goals and attitudes and meet semi-regularly to collaborate on classwork. Such communities have become the template for a cohort-based approach to education . This may be based on an advanced kind of educational or ‘pedagogical’ design.

Elements that contribute to a culture of learning and innovation.

  1. Shared Vision– Together- leaders, teachers, families and the community are pushing boundaries and supporting each other to design learning experiences that meet the needs of their unique population.
  2. Co-creation– Through collaboration, reflection and multiple iterations, there are lessons learned that inform next steps in powerful ways.
  3. Risk-taking– They support one another but will also challenge to take their ideas further and continue to innovate to improve student outcomes.
  4. Learning Environment–  The learning environment critical and must be attended to as the environment you’re in shapes your behavior.
  5. Connect and Share- Innovation requires time and commitment and it is important to share the success along the way.
  6. Reciprocal Accountability–  All stakeholders collectively determine what to stop doing and start doing to move towards the vision in order to create powerful learning for all.
  7. Build on Strengths–For example  one student may take  a coding class and another student was able to be part of the school’s new crew and work on broadcast journalism.

Unlike managers who look at numbers and targets, a learning community fosters a culture of learning, and the rest follows. We lost out on a year because the culture of learning had not been developed. 

Some elements of creating a culture of learning are: 

1: Show them you’re a learner too.

2: Encourage creativity

3: Make it meaningful

4: Flatten classroom walls

5: Demonstrate your passion

6: Respect your students

7: Provide variation

8: Implement enquiry as a stance

9: Play games

10: Encourage students to be responsible for their own learning

Some examples of the success of learning communities are the Scientific community, and the Silicon Valley or GitHub…..

Even Institutions like the Institute of Advanced Study Princeton and Bell Laboratories are really self-organising learning Communities. 

Links for further information: 

Wikipedia article on online learning communities:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_learning_community

Should we apply Ostrom’s design principles to online learning communities : https://www.mixedrealities.com/2011/10/07/should-we-apply-ostroms-design-principles-to-online-learning-communities/

How to maintain communities? : How to maintain communities?. A collective thought by …medium.com › archipelago-learning-collective › how-t…

About family learning communities: https://www.mbaea.org/media/documents/Young_Children__September_2014_Fami_AD789049637DF.pdf

10 ways to foster a love for learning : https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/10-ways-to-foster-a-love-of-learning/

Ways to foster love of learning : https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/instill-love-learning-children

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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2 Responses to Learning Communities:

  1. Phinu Jose says:

    I thought Swami Vivekananda said, :arise, awake…”
    What is the Aurobindo connection, i must check
    Wonderful reading your posts as always!

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