HARNESSING MEDIA AND ICT FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
I find this Park Friends radio and internet initiative through PBA FM in South Australia to be a very interesting innovation that could hold lessons for approaches to fostering lifelong learning in many contexts, and for building community understanding and support in addressing the big issues of life in cities and rural contexts.
My experience as Intellectual Director of the PASCAL International Exchanges (PIE) has pointed to the significance of harnessing media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in blended innovative strategies that encourage on-going learning and community building. This is particularly important in addressing the big issues confronting our communities, such as sustainability, the effects of ever increasing urbanisation, and the breakdown of community in a more individualistic society.
PIE involves online exchanges between twelve cities located on five continents. These exchanges may be observed on the PIE website These range from small communities such as the Hume Global Learning Village (Victoria Australia) to Beijing in China with a population of over 12 million permanent residents.
The potential of strategies that involve ICT and media is currently being tested with some very interesting projects in Africa and India. One such education for sustainability project in Africa explores the links between cultural identity and climate change resilience using ICT, while the innovative e-Arik project in India uses ICTs to facilitate “climate-smart agriculture” among 500 tribal farmers in North-East India, with the project portal having a central role.
Much innovation is now needed in harnessing this potential in this context of lifelong learning. Therefore I very much welcome the Park Friends project and will follow its outcomes with interest. Through the integration of radio, internet and podcasting, I envisage the Park Friends project as linking to this family of innovative projects around the world, harnessing ICT and media to address the range of major challenges we face, and to build inclusive and sustainable communities.
Peter Kearns OAM, FACE
PASCAL International Exchanges
In a report on Future Directions for Lifelong Learning in Australia (Adult Learning Australia, October 2005), Peter Kearns wrote:
“There has been a persistent theme in international discussions of the impact of information and communication technology on learning, that technology will transform the way we learn. This has not happened yet, and the full potential of technology to progress learning throughout the community has not yet been achieved. While the focus of policy up to now has been on access objectives in addressing the digital divide so that all Australians achieve digital literacy, a new stage of development will focus on harnessing the full potential of technology for learning.”
Discuss the “potential of technology for learning” about which Peter Kearns writes, in the context of your own formal and/or non-formal learning experiences, from the educational uses of TV (and even radio) in primary and secondary schools, to the uses of ICT in TAFE, tertiary education and workplace training, through to what and how you now learn informally from today’s media and technology.
In what ways might this blending of media and ICT transform future authentic learning throughout our lives?
For further thinking and talking about this topic, in the context of sustainable cities, see Building Inclusive and Sustainable Learning Cities, by Peter Kearns, published in February 2012.