The E-Team is made up of 18 members. They work together collectively, as well as in sub teams like Online Language Learning, Outdoor/Adventure Learning, Virtual Education and Social Change/Global. A special sub team dedicate their time to classifying and evaluating the quality of the websites.
Millions of individuals are bored in their learning. Millions more are not content with their present job situation. Still others have no access to education at all. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, emerging technologies for learning have the potential to change all that. Countless individuals are learning today in ways they never thought possible. As they do, these same learners are finding new careers and professional interests. They are in the midst of life changing experiences through innovative use of online technology tools and open educational resources. The Extreme Learning research and development project is a natural outgrowth of this new learning era and intends to capture many unique aspects of this phenomenon.
The Extreme Learning research team is exploring how people learn or teach with technology in unusual ways; such as from planes, trains, boats, mountain tops, islands, icebergs, space stations, parks, monuments, and war zones. We also are interested in museum-based learning as well as those learning in religious missions, retreats, vacation resorts, submarines, camps, research stations (e.g., Antarctica), outdoor classrooms, grocery stores, zoos, conferences and institutes/summits, cafes, bookstores, nursing homes, hospital beds, and shopping malls. Not done? In terms of emerging learning technologies, extreme learning might take place in virtual worlds, online communities or groups, webinars, webcam experiences, podcasting, text messaging, mobile devices, and virtual schooling. It is also prominent in the open education movement such as open educational resources on nearly any topic imaginable, OpenCourseWare from MIT and hundreds of other universities, massively open online courses from Stanford, the University of Illinois, Athabasca University in Canada, and other places, open universities, free universities or free courses, etc. Yes, we are interested in all of that and much, much more. This is the age of open education. Let’s take advantage of it.
We call this type of learning as “extreme learning” though some refer to it as informal learning or nontraditional learning. That is fine with us. However, we do want to reveal the more extreme side of such learning activities to highlight unusual opportunities made possible by technology and open resources. “Extreme” is outside the “normal” while “informal” is outside of what tends to be “formal” learning. As part of this project, we are attempting to record “empowerment moments” wherein people’s lives, and, in effect, their identities, were changed due to their use of technology. During the coming months and years, we intend to document human development and growth as it pertains to life changing moments involving learning technology. The world is open for learning and it is time to collect stories that prove it and are an inspiration to others.
The HOPES and DREAMS of Extreme Learning
Extreme Learning HOPES and DREAMS will characterize the ways people learn with open technology under unconventional conditions. Extreme situations stretch beyond traditional educational contexts (e.g., trains, boats, and war zones) and situations (e.g., aboriginal youth in remote parts of Australia, indigenous populations in Peru, disadvantaged youth in Kenya, etc.) and represent unexamined possibilities for cyberlearning that the project pursues through two lines of inquiry. First, “Humanity’s Open Platform for the Exchange of Stories”(HOPES) will enlist a cyber-infrastructure to organize a suite of narrative tools for both Internet- and mobile-based storytelling. HOPES enables people to share personal stories of life change and learning with technology.
Second, the “Design Research for an Engaging and Active Mobile System” (DREAMS) will leverage the HOPES platform to systematically examine Internet resources and their mediating effects on extreme learning experiences. DREAMS will expand preliminary studies that have already generated an eight-part analytical scheme in the following six areas: social change/global education; online language learning; adventure learning/environmental education; shared online video; virtual education; and learning portals. In our initial years, DREAMS will focus on extreme learning with respect to social change and global education in order to establish a proof of concept—where possible with marginalized populations—while expanding into additional areas such as online language learning, virtual education, and adventure learning later. By collecting and cataloguing stories of life change in various areas of extreme learning using surveys, interviews, focus groups, and document analyses, DREAMS will reveal insights into the ways people utilize extreme learning resources and tools.
We expect that this project can broadly impact ideas about human learning in the twenty-first century. We expect that the resources and stories generated by this project will spur discussion of when, where, and how learning occurs. As part of these efforts, we hope to impact cultural awareness and global perspective taking. These stories will be available for anyone in the future wishing to understand teaching and learning at this point in history. At the same time, they will serve to inspire both teachers as well as learners. Instructors, for instance, should find a rich store of ideas on how to teach with technology. Learners should begin to grasp that they have untold educational opportunities today. And such opportunities can be narrowed to a specific learning path or goals beneficial to each person. Ten such goals are listed below.
Ultimate Goals of Extreme Learning
There are many short-term and long-term goals of the Extreme Learning project. Among them are the ten listed below.
1. Learner Recognition: Learners whose stories are spotlighted will gain recognition and self-confidence. As such content proliferates and people become more familiar with and accepting of it, self-selected informal learning may be the norm in the coming decade.
2. Role Models and Career Awareness: The cases will serve as role models and goals for countless learners, young or older. The database of learning cases can help potential students find interesting educational paths to follow.
3. Multicultural and Diversity Awareness: Raised awareness of different learning needs and situations within and across cultures; similarities as well as differences in skill needs, technology support tools, and learning goals can be shared.
4. Quality Evaluation Criteria: Quality indicators of extreme learning resources, projects, and activities can help designers and users.
5. Instruction Ideas: Instructors as well as learners will be able to access and search in our extreme learning cases database for examples of how to use different resources to learn or to teach. These instructors might also share pedagogical ideas with other professors and scholars.
6. Books and Cases: A set of high profile cases will be written to serve as inspirational models for others. We intend to turn some of the more interesting set of cases into a book of cases or perhaps even a wikibook of stories across cultures, learning situations, and ages.
7. Historical Account of Learning: The database will serve as a historical marker of the types and forms of learning occurring in the early portion of the twenty-first century.
8. Extreme Learning Virtual Summit: We will create an Extreme Learning virtual learning summit during this project. Each summit will be intended to inspire participants to celebrate and share their stories of life change. During the summit, we will announce winners of the annual Extreme Learning awards and recognitions. A compilation or medley of participant interviews will make salient the many forms of extreme learning taking place around the globe today.
9. Human Learning Rights: If successful, this project helps promote learning as a national agenda and human right. It is hoped that a national, and perhaps even international discussion, can commence related human learning and open education. The Extreme Learning Website will also set examples and open discussions about educational possibilities and rights.
10. Stretching the Edges of What Human Learning Is: It is vital to understand the far edges of learning taking place on this planet given that what is extreme learning today might find its way into the norm of learning in the near future. Such learning takes place beyond more simple forms of blended learning with resource supplements to take into account the ways that can totally transform or rethink education.
The Audiences of Extreme Learning
The above outcomes address many audiences. Among these audiences include policy makers making decisions about the coming decades of educational funding and initiatives, learners seeking new degree programs, instructors seeking to enliven their teaching, digital scholars envisioning ways to share their expertise in more impactful ways, and researchers and educators hoping to better understand the mix of resources that can positively enhance human learning. We are attempting to create a resource that can lead individuals to new learning vistas. In addition, we aim to document life changes that can serve as catalysts and benchmarks for others to try out such resources. Imagine the new careers and, accordingly, the contributions that thousands of people could make with such an extreme learning gateway.
Web-based technologies are continuing to push the limits of learning and education. It is time to make sense of the more open and informal education opportunities in front of each of us with both our Extreme Learning HOPES as well as our DREAMS. Global economics may be flatter, but human learning is much more open.