Julian Sefton-Green – Learning in Out-of-School Contexts: Education in Non-Formal Settings

December 05, 2012
9:00 am - 10:00 am PST
By Educator Innovator

Out-of-school centers and activities meet many needs in societies around the world. What effects and impacts are they having on formal education institutions?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (07:29) Although these kinds of [out-of-school] centers exist in many countries around the world, I think that different countries have different expectations of what these kinds of centers can achieve, and how they can be sustained within different local contexts.
  • (10:02) One of the things about these out-of-school centers is they tend to use school as a kind of benchmark against which they measure themselves. They play with the way that school is organized in order to set themselves up differently.
  • (12:06) One of the real problems…in thinking about learning in out-of-school is: the more that we get involved in researching and studying and following the learning that’s going on there, the more we run the risk of formalizing the informal.
  • (15:21) It’s actually very difficult to get assessments of what might be thought as “the average quality” of a day or a session at a community center. How do we have any sense of whether learning might be quite good but not good enough?
  • (21:49) How could we assess learning…differently in a way that might reflect what we actually believe is “learning”?
  • (26:17) To what extent (if at all) do these “not-school”, informal, out-of-school learning spaces provide opportunity to define learning in very different ways?
  • (29:02) We do need new methods for tracking learning over time. Not just based on outcomes that we see in the lives of young people five-to-ten years later as they’re experiencing life-changing events, but also tracking the products themselves that they create and that notion of “digital afterlife.”
  • (34:46) To what extent should out-of-school space learning organizers document results, structure the learning, and assess achievement? The idea that we need to measure outcomes and manage learning: to what extent does that mess with or confound the original function of informal learning?
  • (38:40) Thinking about credentialing, when it feels like a token, school-like activity, is kind of weak. But, absent of that, how do we offer an alternative to kids who are maybe not acquiring those credentials through the more traditional channels?
  • (42:02) I think we tend to focus on kids for assessment…I’m wondering if maybe the methodological issue is not necessarily studying a single young person, but trying to think about ways in which a methodology could capture relationships?
  • (45:35) There’s a larger political question about how we can make forms of qualification more equal with each other, and give credit and value. Otherwise, you’re just going to have a dual system of qualifications.
  • (47:08) It is very interesting to look at these “not-school” programs or spaces in communities where young people don’t usually have access to technology in their home environments. So, “not-school” becomes a place to access…this issue of the differences in access becomes crucial for these not-schooling practices.
  • (50:02) As we begin to think about the importance of “not-school” and these kinds of spaces, how should we also keep the role in context in relationship to these other pathways and opportunities for young people beyond school?
  • (54:44) I think one of the joys for youth is that they get to experience multiple cultural contexts. This idea of extending the school day and keeping kids longer in a single context is devastating to me…They should have the right to explore these non-school spaces to see if they work for them.
  • (56:19) What does it mean to “be successful” in out-of-school spaces? And how can adults support youth in reaching their goals?

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During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtag #connectedlearning.

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