The future of education in a net-centric world
Surveys of CEOs and futurists alike all agree that the future is calling to us with a need for open systems, open thinking, collaborative organizations, workplaces and attitudes. Net-centric democratic education, public and private movements for social justice, moral and honorable business enterprises, and cross cultural communications all place a premium on skills, tools, and attitudes that encourage and multiply the network effect.
Doctoral research should reflect this same willingness to push boundaries, and encourage the use of collaborative teams of researchers and practitioners to explore collaborative theory and practice. If collaboration works in practice, there needs to be a theory of collaborative action, and the research in support of that practice should reflect the same principles as the work itself.
Like all new movements, there is a bootstrap problem when you try to go beyond conception into first action. How do you create the initial conditions to generate the spark of collaboration which can ignite the passion and energy of research teams? The words sound good, but we need a place to try it on for size; We need supportive yet challenging places to discover, invent , develop and propagate the best practices and techniques of collaborative knowledge creation. We need places to test our theories, tell our stories and plan for the next cycle.
Dr Alana James’ growing community of practice at reinventinglife.org, centered on the principles and techniques of Participatory Action Research, is just such a node. It serves as an incubator for researchers and doctoral students seeking to develop the net-centric research effect. It goes beyond dry academic reports of practice, by being a live and vibrant laboratory for discovering, applying and reporting on the “theory-in-use” of open education.
It is a combination of challenging questions, a tool repository for new applications of digital learning and research, and is creating a circle of multiple competencies that will support spin-off collaborations in a variety of settings that will propagate waves of change throughout the network like waves in a pond.
Dr James’ leadership in this area is paving a way for new approaches to research and practice and is exactly the kind of practice which needs support and recognition. She has the vision to imagine revolutionary positive changes in the world around her, the moral courage to invest in encouraging the Voices of students and co-researchers as we work to define and realize that future, and the skills to lead and encourage that change.