Learning Revolution

When asked by Bill Moyers in April 1988 “can we have a revolution in learning?”, Issac Asimov responded with “Yes, I think not only that we can but that we must.”  He went on to talk about the time when “once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries, where you can ask any question and be given answers, you can look up something you’re interested in knowing”.  Asimov was actually talking about the internet before the internet had become a reality.  And he was talking about the need for educational reform and the need for lifelong learning, learning that was individualized, a learning revolution some 35 years ago.  His message of the late 1980s is as important today as it was then.

“That’s another trouble with education as we now have it. People think of education as something that they can finish.” — Isaac Asimov
12/29/13 10:01 AM

Did we have a learning revolution in the late 20th century?  Perhaps we could say that some progress has been made but with more needed (that’s for a longer conversation). Although there are many good things happening in learning in schools and higher education, we have yet to realize the full extent and possibilities of the learning revolution.  Sir Kenneth Robinson, in arguing for the learning revolution states emphatically that what is needed is a transformation from the “dogmas of the past” and the “tyranny of common sense”.  In a 2013 TED talk, Robinson spoke eloquently about the three principles “crucial for the human mind to flourish”, creativity and the climate of possibility for education in the U.S.

Robinson and Asimov are but two of the scholars who have argued for educational reform. Although they have often focused on public school education, their messages are very compelling and therefore applicable for higher education as well.  The learning revolution can and should occur at colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.  Some examples are currently underway within the Commonwealth of Virginia including the Office of the Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success as VCU, the Technology-enhanced Learning and OnLine Strategies (TLOS) at Virginia Tech, and the Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative offered by the VT Graduate School.

Let’s encourage our colleagues to engage our students (undergraduate, graduate), faculty and administrators in conversations about transformation and change for universities for the 21st century and to lead the learning revolution.