Open Symposium on ‘The Future of Learning’

Friday 30th June 14.00 – 16.30 in the The Kelly Theatre, National College of Ireland


Open Symposium on ‘The Future of Learning’

This symposium looks to the future of education. We have invited international speakers to agitate our thinking and deliberately challenge the prevailing paradigm. We will ask fundamental questions on the role and purpose of schools and colleges and suggest alternatives and future possibilities. Underpinning the argument may be an even more essential question on the purpose of education: is it to reproduce or to transform the societies in which we live?

14.00 Welcome and introduction

Gina Quin, President, National College of Ireland

14.15 Presentations

Dr Leo Casey, Director of Learning and Teaching and Education Programmes, National College of Ireland

Bertram (Chip) Bruce, Professor Emeritus in the School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England

16.00 Open Discussion

16.30 Reception

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About Professor Sugata Mitra

Since the 1990’s, experiments with children’s education takes us through a series of startling results – children, in groups, can form ‘self organising systems’ that results in emergent learning, they can achieve educational objectives on their own, can read by themselves. Finally, the most startling of them all: Groups of children with access to the Internet can learn anything by themselves. The mechanism of this kind of learning seems similar to the appearance of spontaneous order, or ‘emergent phenomena’ in chaotic systems.

From the slums of India, to the villages of India and Cambodia, to poor schools in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the USA and Italy, to the schools of Gateshead and the rich international schools of Washington and Hong Kong, Professor Sugata Mitra’s experimental results show a strange new future for learning.

Using the 2013 TED Prize, Professor Sugata Mitra has built seven ‘Schools in the Cloud’, where Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) and a ‘Granny Cloud’ of mediators over the Internet, interact with unsupervised children. The results of this three-year study are not yet fully analysed but Professor Sugata Mitra will present some of the preliminary findings.

We begin to see some glimpses of what schools should be for and what curricular, pedagogic and assessment changes will be required in the future.

About Professor Bertram (Chip) Bruce

Professor Bruce’s research contributes to a tradition of democratic education, which seeks ways for human flourishing to occur. It asks “How can we guide the educational enterprise by an ethical vision, not simply a technocratic one of transmitting isolated facts and skills?” That vision should include helping every individual develop as a fully-formed person, while situating that development in the context of helping the society thrive as well.

Drawing upon the work of pragmatist philosophy and progressive education, democratic education implies fostering productive methods of thinking and problem-solving, appreciation of music, art, and literature, healthy social attitudes and sensitivity to others, and a consistent philosophy of life. It further implies the development of a critical, socially-engaged intelligence, in which individual learning is embedded in active participation in community life.

In this effort, Professor Bruce has created learning environments in which learners collaborate on both the ends and means of their learning. This research includes the study of technology-enhanced learning, inquiry-based learning, teacher learning, and collaborative community-based projects. He has collaborated on extended projects in China, Australia, Haiti, Turkey, Romania, Ireland, and many other places. Last fall, he helped set up the Progressive Educators Network of Nepal, which brings together teachers, engineers, development workers, and others who see learning as part of full participation in society and the natural world, rather than as individualized learning removed from the daily life.

To register for the Open Symposium on ‘The Future of Learning’ click here.


*  To view Bertram (Chip) Bruce, Professor Emeritus, presentation on The Future of Learning please click here.

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