New Culture of Learning


There’s a buoyant and palpable joy communicated through the writings of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown in their book A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. It seems like an opening, like permission to create and learn through play whatever, wherever, whenever. It’s like Homeschooling for Library Dummies or something.

While I am typically resistant to the current zeitgeist of “Books are bad, m’kay” and thinly veiled critiques of the limitations of the tradition of books as critical technologies disguised in writings about the benefits of current emerging technologies, I found myself opening to the concept of a “reading practice” that incorporates and integrates various media to teach, to convey, to convene, to connect.

Facilitating learning through any media necessary is the surest way to encourage curiosity in the learner, which subsequently promotes greater aptitudes for lifelong learning. Agency is the key. We know that rote regurgitation on standardized anything does not promote cognitive transfer or recall. Intrinsic motivation does. As such, learners that become truly engaged desire more knowledge, become immersed in the knowing of a thing.

With a little ingenuity, libraries can be makerspaces, workshops, laboratories, and reading rooms. Libraries that seek to integrate traditional and emerging tech to foster discovery environments for their collectives and communities convey that they promote access to all while also meeting a plethora of learner needs. Why go elsewhere if users can create, share, learn, play, read, and also engage with peers? Joining with an active and participatory community to create and share “content” allows all to collaborate in new ways of learning.

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