Learning is natural (and preferably delightful), and some of our best learning happens when we can explore and extend our understanding with interested others.
At ULTRALAB we have been researching how to support collective, collaborative learning since the mid 1980's, through the development of software, a number of pioneering and large scale internet projects investigating online learning communities and examining the software, hardware and documented experiences in the National Archive of Education Computing housed at ULTRALAB.
All of our work has been based on the following model of learning:
- learning is through doing rather than simply watching or selecting
- the Internet is as much about communication, collaboration and contribution as it is about publishing and dissemination;
- a sense of audience for work produced is essential
- high quality mediation is the only successful way of developing engagement
- process not product is the focus
- activities should be delightful
Online learning is not simply the dissemination and acquisition of knowledge, or the accumulation of broadcast content, nor a direct replacement for teachers and lecturers, or an innovative new way to automate testing, nor is it easy.
However, our optimism at ULTRALAB is that it may be part of a strategy for broadening access, participation, and ownership of learning for all ages and this has been confirmed in the substantial projects we have developed.
At ULTRALAB we believe that it is illuminating to look at the limits that old technology imposed and to look at the new capabilities that children will need to become creative and effective citizens, employees, entrepreneurs and parents.