Written by:

Holly Macdonald


October 19, 2010

  • K-12 Education
  • College/university
  • Workplace learning

Are these different things or are there some aspects that are similar?  Personally, I think there are many connection points, and I find myself wondering how we can share and collaborate across these three fields.  Presumably we all care about learning.

K-12:  Those of us in higher ed and workplace learning have a huge stake in the effectiveness of the K-12 arena.  If kids aren’t taught the basics, then those of us further down the pipe will find ourselves basing our learning solutions on faulty premises.   K-12 educators struggle to deal with the content, the delivery, the tests (ugh), but their learning environments can be really challenging.  Have you spent much time in an elementary or high school?  It is a challenging place.  They seem to be under attack these days.  Everyone wants to reform the system.  And even the Huffington Post is blogging about education nowadays.

Higher Ed: I know less about this environment, since my only real experience was as a student, but I imagine that higher ed wants to have some influence over K-12 and feels some pressure from workplaces to produce employable graduates.  But, schools are struggling with competition from Open Education Resources (OERs) and schools “offshore” and the internet in general which is devaluing knowledge.  These might be the sandwich filling in the cafeteria of learning.

Workplace learning: We really want to have influence over the workers of the future, but also have some things to share with other educators.  We might want to partner with our colleagues in higher ed, but struggle with the academic vs. pragmatic applications.  Sometimes we are not grounded enough in solid research/data, but get caught up in the fads and marketing collateral we are surrounded by.

Lucky for me that I get to attend TEDxUBC, FastForward Ed – where a range of voices from all three fields will come together to talk, share and pontificate on all things learning.  It’s going to be a great day and I am really looking forward to it. Mostly, I’m going to be thinking at a systems-level: “what is the common ground?”  How can we support each other and build a shared frame of reference?   I hope to blog about my experiences.  I might not tweet a lot of sound bites on the day, I’d rather reflect and synthesize.  Do you have any advice you’d like to give me before I go?