Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bruce Declaration on Education

Greetings from the last day of of Recent Changes Camp 2011: Canberra at the University of Canberra. Yesterday we discussed "Wikis for Open Education", including in a podcast. Day three was to be about coming up with proposals "Bruce Declaration on Education". The idea was to produce a statement of principles on education, which could encompass how technologies such as wikis could be used, but not limited to the mechanics of how that is done.

The declaration is intended to inform current government inquiries into education and into the NBN. Policies, programs and funding could then be provided to have services directly to students, resources for teachers and for educational institutions.

There is a vigorous discussion taking place over formal and informational education, the role of teachers and institutions. As a former bureaucrat, I wanted to start from existing formal statements, such as Article 26 on the right to education of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (General Assembly of the United Nations, December 10, 1948). This is heavily loaded with decades of political baggage, but the original principles are very relevant to the application of Internet to education:
Article 26
  • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  • (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  • (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The process used was also interesting. We sat in the open area of the UoC "Teaching Space" using a video projector and Meeting Words and Wikiversity for group preparation of a document. Each of us sitting on the leather lunge chairs could use WiFi on our netbooks and tablets. Text entered into MeetingWords by anyone was immediately avialable to everyone and displayed on the wall screen. This text was tidied up and then pasted to the Wikiversity. This worked well but was an exhausting process and we could not keep this up for more than about 20 minutes.

We started to get stuck at the point of proposing concrete projects. Here is my wish list:
  • v-ALTC: In my view there is scope for putting in programs to replace the Australian Learning and Teaching Council which the Prime Minister cancelled last week. There could be a grass roots online version of ALTC, based on the approach taken by EdNA. I suggest a modest $10M over ten years.
  • v-Schools: The example of upper secondary schools in the ACT aalso providing vocational education and community facilities such as libraries could be emulated. I suggest $1B over ten years to set up new and remodelled educational facilities in Australia.
Anyone interested is welcome to join in the process.

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