Essential Skills – Learning in a digital, interfaced world
October 20, 2014 Leave a comment
I have talked a number of times now about the concept of Interfaced Learning and as part of the discussions about this concept with a number of my greatly appreciated comment providers, one of the prime discussions has been around the concept of essential skills. One of the reasons why I like thought experiments around the future of learning is that often they tend to give us quite deep insight into the issues facing us today. So if we consider the world that I have posited on several occasions now, a world where skills and knowledge can for the most part simply plugged in, utilised and then discarded the concept of what basic skills would be essential for me to possess in order not only to be able to utilise technology like this but to utilise it well. We can also place these ideas more firmly in the now by thinking about the learning through watching YouTube experience I have also mentioned previously, what skills did I need to have to be able to effectively utilise the skills I acquired through the process of interfaced learning.
Now if we take the example of undertaking some home renovation and picking up required skills along the way through watching YouTube. It is clear that there are some obvious skills which are required in order to be able to do this, things such as;
- manual dexterity
- language and comprehension
- numeracy and mathematics
But what else do we need, what other skills are essential to our ability to rapidly acquire and utilise new skills and knowledge. What about skills (which are often thought of as being higher level skills) such as critical reasoning, the ability to evaluate options, the ability to extrapolate information (specific to general and general to specific). We sometimes criticise the outcomes of learning programs without necessarily considering whether or not these higher level skills are present. To give you an example I am currently working with a group of youths who are disengaged from the general school environment. While for the most part they have quite good language, literacy and mathematics skills, one of the things I noticed they were missing very early on was the ability to take skills and knowledge from one environment and utilise them in another environment. It was almost if they had to relearn skills that they actually had, but were unable to transfer to a new problem or task. This meant that we actually had to spend a fair amount of time early on trying to teach them how to achieve this transference of information but in the long run it made the learning process much easier on them and us.
So I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on what you think the essential skills are that people need in order to be able to effectively learn.