Educational Utopias?

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A trend I have come to notice within some of the research we have looked at connected to education and the future of education is dialogue about systems and structures that will create the idealized personalized educational experience for every student. These utopian educational ideas created by academia, likely researchers who have no classroom experience,  can be perceived by the classroom teacher ( myself) as overwhelming and unachievable. What is missing in this research is the how. How do we create the educational system discussed within these papers? Is it even possible? What are small steps that could be taken to progress in this direction? It’s easy to talk about an idealized education, it’s like storytelling; just use your imagination and wipe the barriers away with your magic wand.

This short rant was inspired by many class readings but came to fruition after reading this week’s readings.

Reading #1

Siemens, G., Gasevic, D., &Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University: A Review of the History and Current State of Distance, Blended, and Online Learning. Retrieved from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website:

My Notes.

Learning Management Systems

This article included some interesting information about Learning Management Systems (LMS). One in particular, Canvas, looked as though it may have some promising features that may help to create blended courses that are more intuitive and less of a read/respond/write a test type of structure as many of our pre-built Moodle classes are structured to be. The challenge, and the benefit that Moodle has is that many courses are pre-built. From a teacher time perspective, building every course from scratch is not manageable. However, this looks like a LMS that it worth exploring a little further. Perhaps even to get some ideas that could be incorporated within our existing platform. Although it was noted that this is U.S based and therefore licensing may be an issue here in Canada.

Can we structure our moodles to adapt and personalize learning based on what students need and where they are ? E.G you write a test and it checks off what you know and then you are placed and work according to where you are rather than separated by age..

This is a great concept!  PROSOLO

“ProSolo unpacks the rigidity of existing programs to cater to alternate educational pathways, pro-viding students with new opportunities to gain recognition for prior learning and achieved credentials and relevant life and work experiences. ProSolo doesn’t just break the concept of the credit hour — it totally removes it.” –Prosolo 

” ProSolo  recognizes that  learners  may not  be  prepared for  self-directed  learning and may require a different form of scaffolding. To support learners with different levels of prior knowledge, study skills, and cultural backgrounds, ProSolo offers features for supporting self-directed learning through three types of scaffolds” – Prosolo 

I wonder how and if this concept could also be applied to high school education? Is this another unachievable utopia?

Considerations when teaching online:

Comfort and skill level of learners

I recall reading a few articles connected to this, that also specifically looked at the impact of gender and cultural differences connected to comfort and skill level.  This is an important barrier to consider. This is one area that I would like to do some more research on.

Will trends lead to less face-to-face classes and more online classes? Could we, one day, potentially only take classes online/virtually?

I wonder if this will ever happen as students value the face-to-face time. The research I looked at in my lit review also supports this. At the same time,  I wonder if this would change, especially as people are looking for more and more flexibility. I also wonder if, in the future, communicating online has the potential to create the same valuable experiences as face to face. What will technology look like in 10-15 years?


Reading #2

Neil Selwyn, Thomas Hillman, Rebecca Eynon, Giselle Ferreira, Jeremy Knox, Felicitas Macgilchrist & Juana M. Sancho-Gil (2019) What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020s, Learning, Media and Technology.

My Notes

Decolonizing Technology

An interesting blog connected to this concept.

Ethical and Environmental Impacts of Technology

A really important point that may not always be fully considered. Ethical impacts seem to be more commonly considered than environmental impacts; at least there seems to be more conversation around ethics. Both are important considerations and are concepts that I would like to introduce and discuss with students.


Reading #3

Downes, S. (2019). A Look at the Future of Open Educational Resources. International Journal of Open Educational Resources, 1(2).


A quote that stood out to me.  

I admit, this may have been the quote that inspired my rant at the beginning of my post. 

“Again, it’s a shift in focus from the content to the interactions and operations. It’s about how to merge this data with this application or this capacity or this bit of artificial intelligence to create a learning experience for a person. This is a very different way of thinking about instruction and instructional design than what instructors and designers may be used to, and it will require practice and application on new leading design systems in order to support this transition.”

I love this concept, but wonder how this shift can be created. What would it look like? What steps would need to be taken? What skills would the instructor and course creator need? It seems quite complex. This is a Utopian ideal.


And….that’s all folks……well until next week.   Perhaps my ensuing literature review will shed some light on how we may realize a Utopian educational educational system. Although, I must admit, based on my experience with novels that contain Utopian societies, they are all Dystopia’s; perhaps we shouldn’t be questing for a Utopia at all!

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