I wrote a short story about educational changes and how a student could reflect upon these changes in the near future. I hope elements of the story can help us find a way to improve our education.
We came together in the morning between 09:00 and 09:30. Sometimes we met at the
academy, sometimes at an office of an external partner, a community center, or if the weather
allowed it in the park. Where ever it took place we were together and it was nice to start our
days like this. We socialized and everybody brought stuff; books, objects, stories, gossip or
food. Things that inspired us and we wanted to share. Around 09:30 a facilitator would signal
that our morning learning activity would commence.
We had different ways to start our morning. Sometimes the facilitator brought materials to work
with and we would create first and reflect afterward. Sometimes we read together as a group,
and often we worked in smaller groups on pre-designed activities. Those who could not attend
the meeting live were represented on screen. The learning activities were diverse, sometimes
nice and inspiring, but they could also be arduous and challenging. There was often an element of
surprise. The morning programs were designed by students and didactical professionals who
collaborated. The facilitator of the program could be a student or a tutor. Next to the facilitator
there were always a few specialists around. They would join in the activities and shared stories
about their practice.
At the end of the morning, the group dispersed. Like a flock of birds, everybody chose their own
way. Some stayed to have lunch or to continue activities together. Others joined meetings with
their external partners in other locations. Some went home to study online content, and others
worked or had different responsibilities. There was always a group who went back to the
academy, to work with tools or socialize with peers and tutors. The tradition of full days at the
academy had ended long ago. It was not that the building did not have enough to offer, but
student groups were simply too diverse to commit to a full day at one location. Full days were
now reserved for special rituals such as admissions, introduction, public shows, and
graduation. The academy was never empty, and things were always happening. Other socials
groups (seniors, tourists, and children) frequently visited our institute to view presentations,
screenings, expositions, and engage in dialogue with our community.
In the afternoon there was an ongoing elective program and the stations were always open for
students and staff. Some of us came together to prepare our next morning learning activities
and set up online content with a didactical specialist. It was our own responsibility on how we
gathered the knowledge that we needed for our projects and there were different ways to
acquire knowledge. We had an online data monster. This platform included: theory courses,
instructions, video clips, examples, articles, and inspiration which could be explored from any
place at any time. This data was accessible to everyone who was interested. We had given up
trying to protect ourselves from hackers. And the hackers had lost their interest when our
content had become open source. During our peer meetings, we would exchange our acquired
insights. These moments were valuable because they allowed us to reflect upon different
perspectives and ways of learning. Peer collaboration and self-directed learning had become
the key elements of our education.
Education had changed, but it still involved struggles and anxieties. Having only morning
meetings did not only bring freedom; it also increased our responsibilities. We gained freedom
in how we participated in our education, but we were always required to publish in our portfolio
and show our amount of Edu-batches we had earned over time. For many of us
publish-or-perish had become a harsh reality. The e-portfolio was the last element of our studies
that was heavily protected by passwords. The assessment had become a continuous process of
publishing our development. We were free to decide what we uploaded and when, but
everything was assessed by a team of specialized assessors. There were always those who
waited for the last moment to have their development assessed, but others preferred a more
systematic approach. We were responsible for requesting our own assessment moments. This
was something we learned to appreciate gradually.
Some refused to participate in this dynamic of assessments. Rogue students were those who
participated in the program but refrained from assessments completely. Since the abolition of
student loans, we had become more independent. A group was formed that only focused on
their portfolio and the network of people they created during their studies. They consciously
refrained from assessment because this only brought stress and was seen as a negative
influence on their artistic development.
Our evenings had their own characteristics. Some loved to study at night because it was quieter. Others enjoyed it as free time, while others had to work. You could often find some
students or staff online willing to help out if you had questions. We also had social activities in
the evening. Groups joined online for game events and live screenings or went outside to
socialize in different gatherings. We had many options, which always included the fear of
missing out, but it also enabled us to be connected in a variety of ways. After everyone had
dispersed after the morning program it was nice to look forward to seeing everyone again
together the next morning and to find out what everyone had brought to show and tell.