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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on January 9, 2011
Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown know well that our existing educational system, based on imparting finite chunks of rigid knowledge, is terminally broken. But from their amazing work in using the Game Platform as a new model for "a new culture of learning", they point a way towards a much more collaborative form of knowledge exchange--The Collective. They argue that two factors have changed everything: 1) "a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about everything" and 2) "a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries."

"A New Culture of Learning" is a manifesto for an age of constant change. It commands the attention of both today's teachers and the students that may help them move into the digital age of learning.

Prof. Jonathan Taplin
Director, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab
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on September 24, 2014
I was in the audience when John Seely Brown and Prof. Peter Denning took the stage at the SRII conference in San Jose, CA earlier this year - what a privilege.
On each desk for the session was a small, but important book "A New Culture of Learning", written by John Seely Brown and Douglasnew culture of learning Thomas.

According to Denning and Brown, "The half-life a learned skill is 5-years" - this means that much of what you learned 10 years ago is obsolete and half of what you learned 5 years ago is irrelevant.

This article and the review of A New Culture of Learning will be of interest to professionals in any field to encourage thinking about new ways of training, delivering and acquiring knowledge as no-one is immune from knowledge obsolescence.

It will be of particular interest to sales leaders, sales trainers and educators as it captures some of the comments made from the SRII stage during the Denning, Seely-Brown conversation.

We simply cannot learn and know what we need to know to stay current, relevant and to lead, using the old ways of education/training and learning.

It means the learning experience itself must change, it must be immersive (doing it while learning, like white-water rafting), social involving peers,physical as well as virtual and available on-demand, via the cloud and delivered to mobile devices as well as PC's.
Why Read This?

The book, "A new Culture of Learning" is an important read for professionals, educators and trainers and food for thought for business leaders looking to the future.
The big idea is to understand the profound changes brought about by technology. It's not about school reform. People are learning by doing and asking fresh questions.

Trainers and educators are looking for new approaches to sales training and on the job education, because traditional "product-focused" methods are producing poor outcomes from training investments.

Long ramp-times in technology sales remain a problem, yet product cycles are getting shorter. We have to learn faster and on the job. Buyers are self-educating and salespeople are being marginalized to the configuration and discounting-end of the buying process. Salespeople have to get better fast and this means learning new skills and competencies to remain relevant - and employed.
The Learning Process is Poorly Understood

What happens to learning when we move beyond the prior stable century and millennium of learning to the fluid 21st century, where technology is constantly changing and creating new opportunities to reinvent learning and knowing?

It's very disruptive to the educational establishment. "The past as a solution set is no longer a viable option", John Rendon.

The new learning culture is a familiar dynamic as it encompasses our notions of games, play & imagination.
Play is defined as tension between rules of game and freedom to act within the those rules.
Play happens within a medium for learning - it creates a culture in which information, ideas and passion grow.
A new culture of learning allows us to recognize, harness & institutionalize these ideas.
Requires a shift in thinking about education.
Arc of Life Learning

Arc of life learning comprises the daily activities in our lives that keep us learning, growing and exploring. Play, questioning and imagination are at the heart of arc of life learning.

We can augment learning in nearly every facet of education and stage of life, using peer learning and the process of creating and making or mastering something new. Learning requires content - which can be taught, skill -which can be mentored, and disposition - which can be cultivated.

The following concepts will be familiar to anyone who has ever played massively participative and immersive video games, such as World of Warcraft.

We need to think about how from our first breath, we begin to learn; reflect on how children learn and the wonder of "why".

When we go to school and start being taught content so we can pass tests, we stop experiencing the wonder of learning and play.

There is a huge difference between learning and being taught.

We live in a massive and fast evolving information network - with unlimited access to learning about anything.
We are bounded and structured by our environments; we must exploit our ability to build and experiment within boundaries.
Neither of these frameworks alone does it, need both together and interplay in-between.
The new culture of learning gives freedom to make the general personal and to share personal experience that adds to the general flow of knowledge.

Why do we need it?
Traditional Education is Broken

Traditional education structures are no longer keeping up with pace of change. We need to move from this impersonal fact-based stimulus-response method to a learning environment.

Environments don't break.

Lots of people are calling for the demolition of the traditional education system.
A better question is how will schools blend or fail to blend with the freedom and wealth of the digital information network
We need to evolve thinking from "fixing a problem" to "growing a solution".
Our traditional concept of teaching = learning about the World
New culture = learning through engagement within the World
From proving we "get it" to embracing what we don't know, questioning it and continuing to ask the questions to learn more and more incrementally and exponentially.

"Most of what we know will remain relatively unchanged for a long enough period to justify the effort of transferring it". This is a pitfall in 21st century thinking.

Ask anyone on the Internet 10 years ago, what's changed - everything.

Learning to embrace change is a new mantra. Learning is constant.

Learning is not an isolated process of absorption of facts that turn into knowledge, that was a 20th. Century education mindset.

We need to think of learning as a cultural and social process of constantly engaging the changing World around us.
Children and Play

Children make use of play and imagination to make sense of the constantly changing World around them to learn and grow.
Play is how children make sense of the World
Play is a strategy for embracing change in a World in constant flux
Workplace learning is already a big initiative in innovative companies - keeping and growing good employees is the lifeblood of progressive companies - we need imagination and play at work in an environment to learn.

Most workplaces moribund.

The challenge is to marry structure and freedom to create something altogether new.
Peer-Peer Learning

The old ways of learning can no longer keep up
New media and digital are making peer-peer learning easier and more natural
All equals, from teacher-student to mentors, guides and participants
Not revolutionary, just ignored
University students immersed in a peer learning environment, classroom 3-4 hours/day
Peer-peer learning is amplified by collective participation.

Learning collectives
Blogs are learning collectives. A good blog is a medium for learning and creates a space for a collective to emerge where personal experience can be shared and individuals learn and everyone in the collective benefits. - (So please make comments when you read something worthwhile, don't just like it.)
Toward a New Culture of Learning

Arc of life learning never stops.
21st. Century learning = doing, watching, experiencing
Current perception of learning filtered through lens of education. "You teach I learn"
University is a rich tacit immersion in an environment that values learning itself.
Surrounded by vast resources, academic culture, where students make connections among all resources. University life for students grounded in experience & deeply personal.

The new learning culture provides freedom to explore interests and passions within bounded constraints.

Traditional classroom Q&A was used to learn and master specific information. This is an obsolete model teaching obsolete facts.

Reverse it: Questions are more important than answers. Key to learning is not application of technique, but their invention. Asking questions to find answers that really matter to students is a continuous process and a starting point for learning - invites us to ask more and better questions.

Learning as inquiry: Results in useful information regardless of outcome.

Ask better questions using tacit knowledge + imagination.
Indwelling + familiarity with ideas, processes & practices so it becomes 2nd nature. "Polanyi"

Cornerstones: Knowing, Making & Playing
Knowing: You live to learn
Learning and the acquisition of knowledge has given humans all kinds of evolutionary advantages.

Knowing ->Shift from "what" to "where" - context is important in aconstantly changing world.

New information economy is more about how to find and evaluate information on a given topic and less about a stockpile of information and facts.

Making: Putting context to what is being created- through hands on experience - carries more of the message.

Playing is increasingly important.
Playing Example: World of Warcraft

Massively Multiplayer Online Games MMOG's, such as World of Warcraft are large complex, constantly evolving social systems; their perpetual newness is part of the attraction.

Players learn by experimentation, play with tools in a virtual world, repeatedly making adjustments and recording results.

MMOG's accommodate different learning modes, players use methodical trial and error experimentation or intuitively letting experience guide steps.

New culture of learning nurtures collective indwelling. The group learns and knows new things through doing and experiencing.

Prior to now, not possible, lacked ability, resources to make it scalable and powerful.

With access to endless supply of collectives, learning driven by passion and play is poised to significantly alter and extend our ability to think, innovate and discover in ways not previously possible.

But a word of caution, gamification is only a part of the puzzle and "mandated play isn't really play" Suart Luman.

The new culture of learning allows us to ask questions that have never before been imaginable.

After reading this book, you will have more questions than answers about how to begin to create a new culture of learning in your life and your company... and that I suspect is precisely the author's intention.
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on November 17, 2014
“A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change” by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown is an excellent book that covers topics such as how to create a “learning society”, how to make uninterested and unengaged students want to learn, and student’s interactions and how that plays a role in learning. The big question that needs to be addressed is how does this generation learn? A lot of what is covered in the book is giving examples of how different students learn and how we as teachers can shift our teaching to reach their learning style. Douglas and Brown also bring up the importance of classroom culture and collaboration when learning. Holding one another accountable, being competitive is a motivating factor for students and really beneficial in their learning.

There were some key points that were brought up during the book that really caught my attention. The part that talked about group projects and grading was especially interesting to me in whether or not we are doing this correctly. Another point that directly related to my interest was the technology component and how our world is ever altering and how education needs to grow and adapt to fit generational needs. One of the bigger points covered was thinking about how learners learn. Douglas and Brown made the point that thinking about learning should not be limited to just in school. It’s important to look at how people learn on an every day basis, what interests them, what compels them to want to learn?

Overall, “A New Culture of Learning” is a great book to read if you are interested in teaching in an environment that promotes understanding why and how people learn. There are a lot of questions unanswered in the book but I believe that this is the authors point. You will walk away with a foundation of the culture of learning in and outside of the classroom.
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on July 31, 2015
It is a great and enlightening book. I have recently studied the uses of games for education in a MITx course, and this book complements what I have seen there.
It is very clear, provides good examples and sound evidence, shows and explains several things that are occurring right now and are important for our future.
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on February 11, 2011
The first six chapters of this book are remarkably insightful. The authors offer innovative examples just how our digital world is altering the means and methods of effective education. The last three chapters left me with more questions than answers (and perhaps that was part of the goal, since questioning and reframing are extolled). Our world is changing to be sure, but "to what" isn't developed beyond models inadequate to the question---the gaming example seems more symptom/by-product than predictive for it is almost entirely context based. Gaming is an excellent example of self-organized communities gathering to meet a challenge for entertainment, but in reality it is also a consequence free environment.

This volume is highly recommended to anyone curious about the impact of technology on our children and our culture.
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on November 11, 2015
A good/quick read, it leans heavily on concepts that seem novel, but might be hard to practically implement, especially given that the book leaves out entirely issues of access and equity. Those issues may be solved otherwise soon enough, though, and this provocative text will stir the imagination..!
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on February 25, 2011
This is a great little book. It really could serve as a kind of blueprint on how to begin to rethink education. There's a few parts of this I loved. Are group projects unsuccessful in schools because we're grading individually? What if they were really taken on more collaboratively where the final output is judged to avoid focus on individual contributions and grades. I enjoyed as well the bit about reconceptualizing public schools, say, as learning environments as opposed to 'broken' machinery. There's so much hope here. When I started grade school in 1978 (gasp) we had 2 Apple IIs outside our first and second grade classrooms where we got to try Logo! And play with Turtle! Was fortune in this. Delighted to hear you discuss MIT's Scratch which I've only barely seen referenced otherwise.

I would offer a note of skepticism about one of your points however. You talk about how "kids learned the story of Harry Potter by reading the books. They learned the meaning of Harry Potter by engaging with the material on a much deeper level." I'm a believer in the book and in the power of the internal experience of the book. There's digital proponents who might be careful about treating books like these boring things. I feel like if you can't engage with reading deeply inside yourself you're doing it wrong. Am I old-fashioned? Is the meaning of Harry Potter really found outside those books? That said, of course if I had a child, read Harry Potter and also talk about it online, with friends, wear the costume. Still wondering though, where is all this activity going? We're learning Harry Potter better or flexing our brains or maybe getting bogged down in fandom? I'm just wondering if some of our participation online isn't funneling away from creativity into ... chatter? Possible? The chatter itself is interesting? I just think it's really worth discussing. (Check out the Patton Oswalt Wired article, 'Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die').

A terrific little book. Would definitely recommend to anyone even remotely interested in learning, education, the digital future.
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on March 22, 2014
AUTHORS PROVIDE a good foundation for change of our educational system in the new age of social media, electronic gaming, and the abundance of changing «knowledge» . However strong their thesis it does fall short of examples of HOW to put this into place.
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on July 13, 2013
Even if you are retired you need to read this- you cannot stop learning or teaching- the brain needs to be fed--figure out what makes it hungry and feed it. It is not leftovers!
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on March 29, 2016
Great read on new ways people learn as a group.
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