When Gordon Brown walked off a platform having given a speech he uttered the throughaway line that "there really ought to be a University for Industry" and an exciting concept, potentially, was born.
At Ultralab we were asked to run the on-line pilot - project leader Leonie Ramondt's exceptional OnLine Learning Network was the result. Sunderland University ran a face to face pilot.
The vision of a peer to peer, helping people to help each other, viral model, built on mutuality and collegiality was some distance from what finally emerged as the UfI.
The paper Leonie and I wrote at the end for the Journal of Education through Partnership was quite honest and I stand by it:
"Crucially the climate of action research and reflective practice that characterise this pilot will be essential if we are to move forward with integrity, being honest about our uncertainties and cautious with our certainties. The technology is changing rapidly but underlying constructivist models of learning are not part of the revolution.
Learners still need to do things, to have a sense of audience for, and feedback on, what they are doing, to feel personal progress, to be provoked and guided in their learning and to celebrate their own capabilities whilst acknowledging those of others.
What the University for Industry seems to be able to show already is that traditional delivery mechanisms and institutional structures do not have a monopoly role to vouchsafe the quality of learning".
We ended up, of course, with precisely those traditional delivery mechanisms and institutional structures - the structures of the market place in this case - rather than the radical alternative we suggested, and Leonie demonstrated.
Curiously the UfI we predicated is precisely what is gradually coming to pass, inevitably, in other ways in this 21st century. What a lead the UfI might have had if we'd have been listened to. I don't think this is anyone's fault particularly. The incrementalism and managerialism that characterised education in the last century stood in the way of so much progress - even when clear certainties existed of the effectiveness of altenatives....
In an email exchange with Estelle Morris after she left office she ventured the thought that:
"I do agreee with you. One of the things I learned from Government was that there is rarely a mechanism for rolling out successful pilots or research that has been commissioned. The result is that we never really use what has been found to work. The only exception to this I can think of really is the Literacy and Numeracy strategies. This is the argument I have been trying to make about the direction of Government education policy. The answers are in the system and the challenge is to implement them..."
Quite. I like Estelle a lot.
Paradise lost indeed...
these pages last updated: Friday, January 8, 2010 10:01 PM