World Learning Charter

Global Learning Innovation Manifesto

Background

The global Corona virus lock-down is a reminder to constantly rethink what we are and do as custodians of research-based knowledge. No matter what level of education we are engaged in, we are called on to critically reflect on extraordinary circumstances confirm and negate existing social institutions of learning and education. The two are not the same. Education as a social institution is deeply embedded in history, ways of understanding society, social organization and ideology. Learning happens everywhere, all the time, often unnoticed and taken for granted.

When society and education institutions closed down mid-March 2020, no one quite knew for how long and with what long-term impacts. In the months that have passed, arguments have profilerated. They largely fall i three categories: 1) This is a time for radically embracing online learning; 2) as soon as we can we ought to return to the familiar face-to-face education paradigms; 3) a new hybrid understanding is emerging where we understand that the challenge differently: What is called for are new approached to blending the physical and the virtual.

Future Learning Lab

We at the Future Learning Lab believe in the latter. Online we find many arguments in favor of a new age of education technology. In the academic literature and online debates we find a critical concern with what is lost when physical interaction and campus presence is no longer available. Often, the implicit argument is return to a “normal”. Our thinking is that the “new normal” will entail ways and means of blending that are only slowly coming to the surface.

The question is what “new thinking” implies? What is the knowledge base? What are the dominant models of society, of humanity, and of learning?

Globally, learning is organized formally in institutions with degrees, limited access, career plans, and systems of merit. English-language institutions dominate world higher education. Access to research material is stratified. Commercial interests define not only research fields, but also everyday concerns for scholars, researchers, and students. In the North-South axis, access to research materials, books, articles and other resources is a primary concern.

We believe it is time to seriously challenge the Global Knowledge Order.

Learning in the age of mediation

Information flows today are monopolistic. Social media institutions like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and a few others dominate global knowledge flows. While it may not be so obvious to the lay person, the critique is actually not that unfamiliar: We have had debates on global flows of information, global flows of entertainment and global flows of creative work. One high point of globalization occurred in the the mid-to-late 1900’s when subsea cables connected the world continents. It enabled the telegraph. Another wave of globalization occurred parallel to the development of radio and later TV broadcasting. A third occurred with the development of satellite communication. A fourth occurred with the development of converging technologies, enabling the Internet. Weaving through these stages of communication monopolizing, is the geopolitical reality of world empires and also the formations of modern academia.

It is time to take these historical movements into consideration – forging a coherent policy for global education. Clearly, the challenge is pedagogical. our contemporary world of media ubiquity renders past pedagogy paradigms obsolete. Yet we cling to them. Equally clear, the future of learning challenges us to rethink the political economy of education, the impacts of technology, institutional arrangements and new means of data-driven policy discourse.

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