Futurelab – enquiring minds

Feb 16, 2006

Miles Berry

Curious how one thing leads to another! Steve Lee posted on the schoolforge list about a Nesta Futurelab / MS project, Enquiring Minds – quite an exciting brief:

Enquiring Minds is a three-year research and development project investigating how children can shape their own learning, by changing the emphasis from what they learn to how they learn.

The work so far has focussed on developing a model to provide some framework for analysing tools that can support this sort of personalisation, which seems much more in-tune with my own views about promoting learner independence and autonomy than delivering tailored learning objects.

They have four broad clusters of skills in mind – inquistiveness, research, communication, and change agency. This seems quite closely related to the idea of pupils and teachers as action researchers, and it’s good to see some references to schools as learning organizations, and classrooms as communities of enquiry, rather than what could be, on the face of it, quite an individualized approach.

They’re using a wiki to collate a list of tools, particularly web-based ones by the looks of things, that can support these goals. I’ve already added elgg onto the list for communication tools. It will be interesting to see how far they buy into the notion of open source methods as a way  of supporting learner voice – the proprietary versions of web 2.0 tools seem akin to letting teachers and pupils create their own resources and projects, which is no bad thing, whereas open source goes much further – the analogy of letting pupils and teachers design the school or the curriculum seems appropriate. This latter is much closer to their stated aims.