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ACL = Community = Web 2.0? September 4, 2008

Posted by Kevupnorth in engagement, strategy, Uncategorized, web2.0.
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Yesterday I did a talk for some local authority community learning practitioners around the use of technology in adult learning.  As part of it, I asked them to vote using text messaging on what they felt made ACL/PCDL different from other forms of adult learning.  They had four options:

  • Engagement: It’s about reaching the failed to reach, those who are disengaged from mainstream FE or learning as a whole
  • Community: It’s about people coming together, learning for the sake of their social need, not qualifications
  • Skills: It’s about empowering people by giving them the skills to take up employment or further education
  • Finance: it’s about people having a cheaper / free option to more mainstream courses
  • None: ACL is just another form of adult education, there are no fundamental differences

The results (shown on the left) were pretty much as expected, but gave a good chance to have a debate.

Community Learning, for the people on the ground, is fundamentally about engaging people and giving them a safe social space to learn in.  I think, from a personal point of view, I would agree.  Whether this is the same as the national agenda is something to be seriously debated, but this is a debate for another time and place.

What is essential from my point of view is that Local Authorities start to recognise that engagement and community have now moved from the physical ‘church hall’ to the digital ‘facebook’.

I great example from me, personally, is the Bronte Parsonage.  I live only a few miles away and often see posters advertising events there.    However, when I’m in the shop, pub or chippy, the physical part of my community, I normally have other things on my mind and not event posters.  However, I’m a member of the facebook group for this, meaning that when there are events, I hear of them from there.

It’s not that my physical community has gone – I meet people from my virtual community every day and attend real world events.  However, my communication and engagement is primarily based on a digital community.  For Local Authorities, who are trying to re-engage, re-generate and involve communities in upskilling, local democracy and cultural events, these digital communities are being fatally overlooked.  It’s all summed up by a comment from the audience yesterday:  “It’s not that we don’t want to engage with technology – it’s that we’re not allowed to.”

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