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Innovations in informal learning Professor Yvonne Hillier University of Brighton.

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1 Innovations in informal learning Professor Yvonne Hillier University of Brighton

2 Innovations in informal learning Informal learning tends to be unplanned, even opportunistic, such as reading before sleep; watching an interesting programme on the television; looking over someones shoulder at work; or dropping into a museum. Such learning can be anything but casual, and its impact is much understated. It can be the predominant element in learning lives (Smith and Spurling, 1999:4).

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4 The number of lifelong learners actively learning today is likely to be small, perhaps very small; and there is a sizeable body of non-learners who are doing very little learning after initial education, if any at all. These people have in effect switched off from learning – or they have been switched off (Smith and Spurling, 1999:21)

5 Innovations in informal learning At times, especially where economies were being sought, there has been a tendency, even in official pronouncements, to depreciate many [subjects] as recreational and therefore of little educational value; to assume that people go for social intercourse rather than to learn and to dismiss certain kinds of activity (like classes in bridge, golf and entertaining in the home) as pandering to petit-bourgeois aspirations Russell: 1973 para 13

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7 Innovations in informal learning Arts and crafts Painting and the plastic arts Music, dance, drama and movement Speech and creative writing Office skills Physical skills and games Languages (including English) General education Intellectual and humane studies Russell, 1973:para 13

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9 There would be available for all adults as a road, at any time, to academic and professional qualification as well as towards personal competence and development. At the same time there would be open courses at colleges, universities and other centres, and radio, TV, correspondence courses which could be taken by people in their leisure. Courses of all kinds, sandwich, release and leisure – would, through graduated stages, subject to assessment, lead to all forms of recognised qualification including degrees (Russell, 1973:para 50)

10 Innovations in informal learning And the whole complex of provision would be arranged on a cumulative credit basis with free movement between courses and stages, regardless of intervening drop-out. Although permanent education is as much concerned with infants as with adults, it has marked implications for adult education, staking a claim for it as an integral part of total provision, not as something for the less fortunate or more studious, but as something to be expected and experienced by the whole nation, permanent education is a long-term concept and we have not time to wait for it (Russell, 1973: para 50)

11 Innovations in informal learning The development of open access systems, including both distance and independent learning, could be one of the most important education innovations over the next twenty years (ACACE, 1982: para 8.38) All major establishments of further and higher education should provide resource centres open to independent learners (ACACE, 1982: para 8.40)

12 Innovations in informal learning [this] varied approach to learning offers adults greater flexibility in their patters of study. With very few limitations people can study when, where and at a pace convenient to themselves – a considerable advantage to those many adults who are often unable to make a regular commitment to other forms of study…while more adults can be expected to choose to continue their education through distance learning, many will still want to benefit from face-to- face tuition (ACACE, 1982:para 4.32)

13 Innovations in informal learning Distance learning (eg Open University) Individualised learning (NELP) Flexi-study Open learning (Open Tech, BBC) Correspondence courses (NEC) Independent learning (TV, radio, library) Self-help

14 Innovations in informal learning The main aim [of staff development] must be the effective provision and management of a wide variety of teaching systems to meet the needs of adult learners (ACACE, 1982: para 11.12). New modes of learning should be rapidly developed to overcome the limitations of physical attendance at set times in particular places (ACACE, 1982:para 13.18). These developments within existing provision could be complemented by the exploitation of new technologies to provide new opportunities; Open access systems, including both distance learning and independent learning could be among the most important education innovations in the next twenty years; the growth of independent study facilities and self-help groups should therefore be encouraged (ACACE, 1982:para 13.18)

15 Innovations in informal learning Despite the advances of the post-war years what had emerged was a highly uneven provision that varied substantially from one locality to another. Legislation had been permissive, allowing LEAs wide scope for interpretation (Green and Lucas, 1999:20)

16 Innovations in informal learning Today colleges are overwhelmingly adult institutions, and the majority of FE students are over the age of 26….learning is considered essential in the post-capitalist societies as a tool to cope with social and economic changes…. In recent years FE colleges have become more flexible in terms of both delivery and the curriculum, as well as more diversified in the range of courses offered to all post-16 age groups…while FE has, to a large extent, been forced along this road [skills- based VET] by government policy, there are some colleges which have struggled to maintain a community focus in their philosophy and practice (Hyland and Merrill, 2003:50-51)

17 Innovations in informal learning The current learning scene is stark. Too little learning of any kind is being done; a large section of society is doing none at all; and a large proportion of those who have no intention of doing any in the future. The profile of learning falls off far too sharply with increasing poverty and increasing age. The population is under-qualified by international comparison, particularly at the craft and technician level. A major culture shift is required to change all this….there is widespread claustrophobia in the UK learning system, where learning is often confined to special spaces (Smith and Spurling, 1999: 213)

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19 1973 Russell Report 1982 ACACE report 1986 DES White Paper Working Together: Education and Training 1993 Further and Higher Education Act - Schedule 2 and Non- Schedule 2 1997 Kennedy Learning Works 1997 Fryer Report (NACGELL) 1998 The Learning Age 1999 Learning to Succeed 1999 Moser Report 2001 Learning and Skills Act 2002 Success for All 2005 Foster 2006 Leitch 2007 FE Act

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22 Innovations in informal learning But all the variety, all the books that you might need, all the large bits of paper you needed to do things, printing things off, there just wasnt that, that wasnt available. In fact the volunteers used a lot of their own equipment. People just went about it in their own way - you would go to the public library and get something out that they thought their students were interested in and used that. They did manage quite well.

23 Innovations in informal Learning Ways into writing Ghost stories Fairytales Poetry Telling stories – taking in turns Community writing Visual and creative activities (see for example LEIS project, Weir, 2006)

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25 Innovations in informal learning But we used to have these training days where you would come in on a Saturday and you would learn from practitioners particular things and they were brilliant. We used to go without pay, you used to go on a Saturday and just go to learn so that you could do your job better We tend to channel them down certain paths now and … theres less emphasis on ….. just learning for learnings sake and writing for writings sake ….. and its more about skills…. Its more sort of skills for work, skills for …life and things like that.

26 Innovations in informal learning We didnt have a core curriculum in those days so it was developing something ourselves. We did sort of have a kind of curriculum ourselves which we could refer to, what we expected people to know or what we felt they needed to know in order to function in their daily lives. And then we would make materials or find (realia) and use that to structure our lessons, made lots and lots of worksheets and things, and had folders and folders full of stuff where you would develop all sorts of approaches with people. And we used to run sort of specific things like 10 week spelling courses and develop all sorts, and they were quite a hit actually, people used to really quite like those.

27 Innovations in informal learning Well I discovered very quickly when I first started trying to teach fractions in isolation to a group of women was a waste of time, because it meant nothing to them. As soon as you started to convert it to decimals and put a pound sign in front of it then oh yes I understand it. I made worksheets, I was not sure that I thought why do I want to teach this? but I thought these are the things that I think that they need to know. I thought they needed to add up and needed to take away, that they needed to be able to do fractions and decimals and convert from one to the other and understand fractions, decimals and percentages together. This was in the days before computers were mainstreamed, even before calculators were considered an every day thing that was ok to use. I would do things like get them to talk about how many children they have got and then add them up together, you have got 1, you have got 3, you have got 5, together you have got 9. And then the ages of the children, and all the children added together and then what is the average age, so I would link it very much into the things that were important to them

28 Innovations in informal learning We had a lot of games in the pack and if they liked playing games they might go through until they found a game to play. And we kept on telling them that we expected them to be independent learners in the sense that they had to decide what they needed, it was no use them coming to us and saying what should I do next? We would just look at them blankly and say how the hell do you expect us to know, youre the learner, you have got to be in charge of whats going on

29 Innovations in informal learning It was the latest thing at the time [with] some specialist add- ons like a very enlarged keyboard, something thats very spaced out with holes that you have to press through to get the letters that you want and also CCTV systems so that a student who had cerebral palsy but also very poor eyesight could work with a screen. We also had a concept keyboard which is sort of flat rectangle that you customise, it has a grid of cells and you write your own program so that you could put on an overlay, lets say you had a student who was interested in woodwork and the tools that you use, you could put pictures on your overlay so that he presses the hammer the word hammer comes up on the screen. So there were lots of small but useful things that we were able to include for that particular group of students.

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31 Innovations in informal learning When I came back to basic education in 1994 I was really aware of how the teaching, the teachers were different, they had a different attitude … by then we had to have accreditation, it was a good thing, the students wanted it, we were beginning to realise that we should think about progression and progress and measuring distance of travel. What I realised was that teachers had become almost acclimatised, almost habituated to accreditation and there was a danger in that and there still is a danger in that ….. I do think in the 1970s and 1980s we tended to work for ourselves and for our own pleasure rather than for the student.

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33 We were studying Pride and Prejudice and people really enjoyed it. We did all the analytical stuff and literary theory stuff, all totally serious. And then there was the bit about Darcy and Elizabeth that there was going to be the proposal. In their own lives and indeed in mine we have never had proposals, some of us werent married and all of us had children but the dream of somebody proposing to us formerly and asking us to marry them was still around and why shouldnt it be? We had all the kinds of ironies and cynicisms about that. Anyway we decided we would keep this for next week, somebody brought in a bottle of sparkling wine, somebody else brought in cream cakes and when we got to that bit a roar broke out in that room of shouting and cheering like you have never heard, a bottle popped and we ate cream cakes. And of course we all knew that we would probably never have a Darcy that would propose to us and take us off to a stately home to live in riches for the rest of our lives but the fun and the dream of it were great.

34 Innovations in informal learning Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education (1982) Continuing Education: From Policies to Practice Leicester: ACACE Department of Education and Science (1973) Adult Education: A Plan for Development [The Russell, Report] London: HMSO Green, A and Lucas, N (1999) FE and Lifelong Learning: Realigning the Sector for the Twenty-First Century University of London: Institute of Education Hamilton, M and Hillier, Y (2006) The Changing Face of Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books Hillier, Y (2006) Everything you need to know about FE policy London: Continuum Hyland, T and Merrill, B (2003) The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and community Values in Further Education London: Routledge Falmer Smith, J and Spurling, A (1999) Lifelong Learning: Riding the Tiger London: Cassell Weir, L (2006) LEIS Project Belfast: Queens University of Belfast

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