Invisible Learning: Another look inside informal education

Few have recognized the need for constant evolution in education while pointing clearly at the core of its main ideals as the American philosopher John Dewey did. This is seen in his My Pedagogic Creed, published 1897, a time in which many ideas emerged, trying to enrich the philosophical, ideological, and social arena in the United States. What I would like to point out specifically about Dewey’s ideas is his recognition of experience as one of the main bases of education—ideas that are still struggling to be recognized inside formal education. According to this philosopher and his critiques of classical ways of teaching, education “is a process of living and not a preparation for future living” (1897:).

In this same spirit, researchers, educators, and theoreticians in education have tried to bring the values of experiences to the validation of learning and knowledge. As some examples, we could mention theories and explorations on “Ubiquitous Learning” (Cope and Kalantzakis 2009), “Expanded Learning” (Freire 2008), and “Accidental Learning” (Conner 2008). These concepts receive different names and put to work different strategies. Among those, the notion of invisible learning(.com) tries to be part of the study of experience in learning through the online participation of different actors, coming not only from the academia, but also from students and regular Internet users. Thus, this new notion, coming from the big log of informal learning, is being constructed, discussed and shared thanks to new media as I write these lines and you read them.

The invisible learning community shares ideas around the necessity to understand, value, and take the most of what happens not only inside school, but also outside. As they have demonstrated with the big boom of new technologies and new media (like Blogger, Twitter or Facebook to name a few of the most popular ones), more and more questions about new ways of learning can be added. With initiatives like these, theories and strategies like those of Dewey’s are kept alive and active with an exciting element: We can also be a part of the evolution and the use of these ideas. With the crisis of formal education and the unequal access to school suffered by an immense part of the world population, discussions around alternative ways of learning, like this one, become a part a what would really be innovative in practice for most teaching processes. Popular phrases like “the school of life” and “the value of experience” have been used in common conversations for years; is it then finally time to make it part what we call a “good education”?

Would some strategies based on the value of the experience ease the frustration that comes with the impossibility of fulfilling educational programs that only few can follow? This is a way to point out the opportunities in the big adventure of knowledge occurring outside the box of the long cherished academia. Could this make us more aware of the learning feature that comes with movement and interaction in this world?

With the advances of technology, these questions are in front of us more than ever. The learners are not only those inside a classroom, but also each and every human being interacting with his or her environment. An interaction expanded now more than ever in a vast world that, through new technologies (and mostly the Web 2.0), communicates and recognizes itself as diverse and alike at the same time. If you want to see a new concept be born and grow and have ideas to share, then go ahead and participate. Knowledge of any kind will be welcome. Interactions among researchers, students and curious people are always the beginning wonderful ideas and also tend to leave a footprint in each participant’s learning process.

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