As usual, Will Richardson has me thinkly deeply. This time about education and what it means to be educated. In a recent post, Will wrote, “I think the big question for the next decade is this: In 2020, will schools be seen as just one of many important ways that our kids can become educated? And as a follow up, will there be other ways of “credentialing” what it means to be “educated”?” I can’t stop thinking about this idea of credentialing as it relates to education, because it seems to me that the reason most people “get” an education is to become credentialed. Credentialing, of course, comes in many forms: diplomas, degrees, licensure, certification, and job training to name a few. Very few people become educated, just for the sake of being educated. And while I am still trying to decide of that is okay or not – I may have to read Daniel Pink’s new book to explore that more – I know that as a learning leader, I want no longer want to learn solely for credentialing sake.
With this in mind, I withdrew from the Masters in Educational Technology program that I began last fall. The program, full of assignments asking me to create PowerPoint presentation, download tools, write static papers, seemed more about late 20th century tools than 21st century practice. The courses did use Blackboard as an online content manager and did employ a discussion board, but when one of my professors told us that he waited to the end of week to print our our discussions and read them, I realized it was used for nothing more than an online word processor whose potential as a connective technology was lost amongst the need to “have assignments” . The final straw came when my last professor, who happens to work within the same SAU that I do, asked why I hadn’t begun any of me prereading accompanying assignments for the upcoming class, and before I could muster a response, he answered for me: “You’re just in it for the paper at the end anyway.” (sigh) He was right. I kept telling myself that this Masters work wasn’t heavy lifting and to just do it because it would formalize all of the work I was doing informally, when in reality it was adding little to my growth as a learning leader and only serving to validate how important my “informal” learning is to me. The simple fact of the matter is that I gain more from the connections I have with my personal learning network than I did with my formal coursework.
As I continue to grow as a learning leader, I realize how important the word “value” is me. I am constantly looking for people, blogs, programs, resources and connections that not only provide value to me as a learning leader, but also allow me to reciprocate that value as well. In doing so, I have felt a great empowerment to “unfriend”, stop following, dismiss and even drop out of those things in which don’t live up to that value standard. All of this leaves me wondering: Am I fool hearty? Idealistic? or, Is the value of informal learning growing such that more may make choices similar to the one I have made?