Here I want to introduce you the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), which is an organization dedicated to promoting Self-Directed Education. It is a new organization, just got the non-profit status this year. Its prominent founders include Peter Gray, a psychology professor, the author of the book Free to Learn and longtime advocate of self-directed education and Sudbury Model. ASDE brought people and organizations that have long been actively engaged in self-directed education. For example, Grace Llewellyn, Pat Farenga, North Star Learning Centers, Agile Learning Centers and so on. The major mission of ASDE is to put Self-Directed Education on the map. Over the years, we have seen various terms used to tell people about learning, terms like “informal learning”, “inquiry-based learning”, “student-centered learning”, “active learning”, “activity theory”, and so on. These terms are either twisted or phony. For example, “informal learning”? So the school classroom-based learning is the formal learning? In my view, the so-called “informal learning” is actually the formal learning. “Active learning”, “student-centered learning” and “inquiry-based learning” are just phony or even cheating if the learners cannot direct their own learning. Learning is self-initiative. I am glad to see that ASDE is giving us the term “Self-Directed Education” to bring out the true face of learning.
The term “Self-Directed Education” is used by ASDE to encompass unschooling and democratic free schools together. It aims to extract well-practiced methodologies and believes from these two communities. There is a noticeable growing trend within these two communities that people within share a lot of common practices and believes and although these practices and beliefs are very well-known within the communities, they are still in a large degree unheard of to people outside of this circle. So the mission of ASDE is to combine these common practices and believes as unified pedagogic methodologies. Open Source Learning, although has been more focused on adults, certainly can support its software to be used by these communities as the software infrastructure of such methodologies.
The Internet has changed our society fundamentally. But it hasn’t changed our education system very much. Over the past 20 years, I have seen related technology getting more and more mature, for example, web2.0, multi-media, mobile devices, and penetration of internet progressed greatly and people’s use of technology advanced. However, the long-expected revolutionary change in the education world is still on the horizon. The reason? It has to do with things related to those twisted and phony terms I listed above. The popularity of those terms tells us how much work needs to be done to clear people’s misconception of learning/education. Thus the work of ASDE to put “Self-Directed Education” on the map is vital, and people here at Open Source Learning support this movement wholeheartedly.
Personally, I believe this alliance (ASDE) will play a vital role in transforming our education system. So I hope you can pay close attention to it or even participate in it.