Mark's Lecture Notes

    "We are about to enter the most dramatic series of Paradigm Shifts in how we learn... ever!" Mark Treadwell 1998 (adapted)


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his site contains the online notes for Mark Treadwell's conference, seminar and workshop presentations. The seminars and these notes are abrief summary taken from the 'Glogal Curriculum Project.' This 12 year project synthesises the educational transitions being made available through the effectiveness and efficiency gains brought about by two successive global paradigm shifts in how we learn.

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You may think that the term Paradigm shift is overrated - really? In fact it is underrated... drastically and here's why!  

The 5 Paradigm Shifts in Learning

To understand what the real issues are in enabling education to meet the needs of our communities, we need to track the previous paradigm shifts in learning. Throughout human history, there have been a number of these macro-changes in our capacity to learn, and each one increased our capability to learn with increasing efficiency.

1.            The first paradigm shift in learning was our development of increasingly complex oral language which took place incrementally over the last 2 million years.

2.            The second paradigm shift in learning was our ability to form representations of our language, using symbols, enabling us to communicate visually; initially using glyphs which then slowly morphed into writing. Humans created stories using images as far back as 25,000–30,000 years ago, with the notion of counting appearing about 9,000 years ago. Sequences of pictographs appeared about 4,000 years ago and these morphed into icons, and finally ‘letters’ appeared to represent sounds emerging 2,500–3,000 years ago.

3.            The third paradigm shift was the invention of the printing press and the reduced cost of the printed book, allowing new worlds to be opened, but only once the owner of the book had learned to read and write.

4.            The fourth paradigm shift is far more recent, arriving in the form of the internet, whereby we could access information in any combination of media, at almost no cost. The internet has substantively changed many aspects of our lives, specifically, how we learn and the sophistication of that learning.

Despite the arrival of the fourth paradigm shift, schools are continuing to focus on students remembering and recalling large amounts of information that has almost no relevance to the their daily, or future lives. Even more interesting is that some schools ban students from taking devices into classrooms or exams, and try to insist they do not use them for homework, while encouraging them to work on their own.

In many ways, we are making learning unnecessarily difficult for everyone, by having students study topics that are composed of numerous and unspecified concepts that are only ever exposed to one context; the topic, or the theme of the current unit of work. Consequently, the test can only reflect what is studied in the topic and that was mostly very context-specific knowledge, along with some vague and undefined ideas and concepts.

5.            The fifth paradigm shift is now on our horizon, and it will challenge the very notion of how schools will more successfully meet their purpose of having at least 80% of learners enjoy success in school and establish the belief, based on capability, that they can learn almost anything, anywhere, anytime with anyone (A4).

Over the next 25 years, we will experience the rise of video as the primary information source that learners will use for research and inquiry. It will also increasingly become the medium that learners and educators use to demonstrate their comprehension and understanding.