Andrew Ravenscroft, University of East London (UEL)
Innovative learning Lab Radioactive 101
Location: ED.5.02, Stratford Campus
Telephone: +44 (0)208 2234186
Contact address: Cass School of Education and Communities
Stratford Campus, Romford Road
Stratford, London E15 4LZ
Andrew is a Psychologist (C.Psychol, AFBPsS) and Learning Technologist who is a Professor of Education in the Cass School of Education and Communities at UEL. His focus within this field is on designing and implementing next generation smart, social and media-rich technologies for learning in the digital age, in ways that are strongly informed by theory.
His earlier projects have ranged from intelligent agent-based training simulations; pioneering networked and multimedia learning support systems (before the Web); computational modelling of learning dialogue; and, generally, the development of new theoretical and pedagogical frameworks for technology-enabled learning in the digital age. Recent projects have included a raft of related JISC funded projects in Digital Dialogue Games and e-learning innovation (where he was the Principal Investigator) and a large-scale FP7 project called MATURE, which is investigating Continuous Social Learning in Knowledge Networks, where he was the co-leader of the work-package for Evaluation and Design Methodology.
Interview 16.10.2014 /LL/NN
1. About yourself – you have long history of develop education and
how to find the way to create and combine education, research, technology, digital learning enviroments, art and creativity in education … how did you find your way
2. About Innovative learning Lab Radioactive 101: pedagogical model for the society around: how it has been working? Results and continue
Miten todellisuuteen rakennetaan pedagoginen työskentelymalli. Miten jaetaan näiden nuorten todellisuus.“Expressing and pedagogying thrash reality”
3. You have created education model which is taking apart the worldaround and how this generation is living – you have experience of the years to develeop learning enviroment – how do you see the role of education at the moment – (education models in GB – different in Finland)
4. What about entrepreneurship education in the schools – combine art, creativity, ICT, technologies, entrepreneurship and financial models (new ones and old ones) – do see it is possibility
5. About youth unemployment (of young people) in London/GB – in Europe generally:
6. What do you think about Youth guarantee model in Europe – how is it working in GB?
Interviewer Nicklas Nyman
Interviewer (I): So yeah, about yourself, how about a short history of how you ended up in this situation of running these projects or managing them?
Andrew (A): Were talking about [the radio active] projects, yeah? How did I end up… There’s a very long answer and and a short answer to that question. But um… The short answer is obviously I’ve been working – I’m a psychologist, a technologist and somebody who’s been doing music events, been running my own studio – for a long time. I’ve been working as a professor of education specializing in learning technology. But this project was an opportunity to put together a combination of what I felt was important in learning. I suppose the main driving force was I just felt that there’s one main issue in education and that is how do we educate those people who are currently not getting educated and how can we use education as means to include people in society. So that almost personal and political drive is the main reason and with that motivation I just um… had the intuition well… The true story is I was invited into an internet radio show because somebody else had dropped out. So it was a pure accident that somebody phoned me – a colleague, Graham […] people might know – invited me onto a radio show as an expert in learning technology and as a psychologist. And I first said no, I don’t want to do it, because I don’t want to go into a studio, I haven’t got the time… And he said no, you can do it from your own house where you are. So I said well, what do I need to do, I haven’t got mics and he said I will Skype you in and tell you what to do and then you can say what you think and try to act intelligent on the radio. And then I listened to this radio show and then… he played some music and said we’re gonna talk to Professor Ravenscroft after this next item. Then he came to me on Skype and said Andrew, I’m gonna bring you into the radio show now. And after the music stopped he pulled me into the live radio show. I tried to say something intelligent about work-based learning or something, but immediately after that show stopped I thought, this is a really powerful mechanism [as it’s wasted on learning technologist] I could just immediately the fact you could broadcast radio from your own home, the fact you could participate in radio through your own home, I immediately then had the idea that this should be used as an educational idea with young people excluded from education because they have homes, they have computers, they’re making music, they’re using social media, already. So, I actually had the idea for this project almost in an instant by just putting together what I knew about learning technology, the attractiveness of media and just that personal experience.. Suddenly I realized that radio’s accessible and powerful to anybody so it all happened as a mistake, to be honest. The fact that somebody else didn’t turn up for a slot on an internet radio show and I did and literally the idea sprang from that.
I: Nice. That’s kind of like a prime example of [inaudible] are made into something new out of that. But yeah, so working on this radio [inaudible] active project and it’s a pedagogical socie.. Our English is kind of funky here… Anyway the results and the future of this radio active, how has it been effective?
A: It’s been very effective. I can arguably say it’s probably been the most um… effective and interesting… and having sort of greater impact than probably any other learning technology project I’ve ever worked on. In the way it started was a great example of that. We didn’t get big funding, we didn’t have a big ground idea after what I’d decided [here I had to] we gotta use radio for education because it’s now accessible. We just simply did a pilot, we got, I got a very small amount of money from my university, which I’m very grateful for, just five thousand pounds. We bought the equipment we paid for a few people, we just went to a youth organization, did a radio work shop and this was a youth organization with very difficult young people, lots of people who were on the fringes of organized crime and this sort of thing. And we just went to a youth organization and did a one-day workshop, asked them how they felt after participating in the work shop and then spoke to the director of the youth organization. And it was very clear that that one day work shop was a really good way to engage and give enthusiasm to these young people who were doing things developing communication skills, doing sound… without even knowing they were learning because they were really motivated by the [idea] of doing the radio. So we really got that pilot and then when I spoke to the director and I said before I bid for any more money, I said do you think this would really work, because I don’t want to spend a lot of time on one of these ideas that doesn’t work out. And he said to me, Andrew it’s bound to work because these young people don’t have anything else. You know, this really connects with them and this really, you know, I can guarantee it will work as a project so, just that small pilot. I then spoke to people with in funding agencies and then we made an application to the [inaudible] Trust in the UK where are the people who sort of police the internet […] a social innovation of. We bid them for a bigger project so we had the university, we had charities involved, we had two youth organizations called [Tragona? and Yoh] and then we had a UK project and then it was… How can we use radio to engage these young people? And so it grew from a pilot project to a UK based project and at the end of that project we then disseminated to people in other areas of the UK. We did a dissemination workshop in Glasgow. But what we found through doing this project was that it worked really well. Again these youth organizations retained young people when they didn’t normally retain them, they […] of the radio. You make a show, you’ll be […] on it, you want to make a better one. It’s a really good way of retaining young people, especially those with… who might be excluded or dropped out of school. It’s an activity that really motivates them to actually stay involved in a radio project. But also to develop these skills that they probably didn’t even realize they were developing. So these young people who had not even been recognized at school, might be excluded, you know would get excited about being given a voice in the first instant and they’ve got lots of things to say. So the fact they’ve got a voice is very empowering. The fact we say you could… the show is about your life and what you want to do. Just that excites them because nobody gives them that opportunity. And of course it’s all [inaudible] we’ve got a really sort of clear [inaudible… janitorial?] model that we’ve adapted from the [Ofcom?] so it’s not like they can do, it’s not pirate radio. And we tell them exactly what it is, it’s not pirate radio, it’s not commercial radio, we’re not the BBC but it’s about making radio out of your lives. So I think the fact we had hundreds of young people in the UK went through the UK project and we did quite a thorough evaluation of that experience. So, when we had these radio shows made by young people nobody would have thought could make radio shows, so that in itself is a great achievement but we actually did an evaluation both in terms of what skills they’d acquired but also in terms of things like confidence and self esteem. We used psychological scales for this. The Rosenberg self-esteem scale, I think. But what we found was these young people, we saw tangible improvements in confidence in a very [anecdotal] way, not just in the young people but in the whole youth organization. So just in an informal way by me being there with them. When we first went to these organizations, some people didn’t speak they were very quiet… and then once they made a radio show or two and they’d been interviewed, they’ll be talking and having ideas, they’ll be empowered and have confidence to participate in these activities. But also the youth workers, the older people, they had to get better organized, they had to communicate better. As an organization they had to develop and I think this is key to the success of the project. I think if we as a university got individuals to come along, it wouldn’t work, because the whole organization needs to be involved and the whole organization develops. So the individuals involved develop digital media literacy skills but also the whole organizations develop, improve communication skills, they have to know what each other is doing, they have to communicate what they’re doing. They have to turn up on time. They have to work to deadlines. They have to be critical of content. And all these other sort of skills that are very difficult to teach in a isolated way or part o a curriculum. All these skills actually fit together. And then of course on one level you’ve got the individuals benefitting but then you got the organizations benefitting, the fact they’re making part of a radio project gives them external um… publicity. So they attract more people in. So, I think this is the reason why it works that it’s a win-win as we say in the UK on many levels: the young people benefit, the youth workers benefit, because they can either play pool or video games or take young people to the cinema, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those activities but frankly making a radio programme together is more interesting and more exciting typically than the activities that go on. It has this lovely trick, where the rhythm of radio retains these young people in an activity. And these young people are typically the ones that don’t continue in an activity. So, um, and of course from that from then we, well the UK project was going along quite happily we applied for European funding because we thought this model was working really well. Let’s try it in a European context. And also, if I’m totally honest the first project became very clear that this was working as an idea unlike most radical technology learning projects that never really work and you might get a few uses but you never really get adopted and never really change anything, if we’re honest. And I’ve worked on a lot of those projects. Because it was really working we thought, right, we want to really now expand the reach of the project by bringing in European partners but also focus on the pedagogy and the employability. So, having additional European project now, we knew the radio worked, we knew it could engage young people. That was the first thing. There was no point thinking about bigger issues until it was clear that was working. So with the European project now we did develop the educational side much more robustly and also link that to employability. So now, we used the radio to engage young people across Europe now, [not young people but,] we also used, in the European project we engaged all sorts of excluded groups so in Romania we worked with school children in rural communities where there’s high drop-out rates. In the UK and Portugal we’re working with what we call disenfranchised youth. In Germany they’re working with mixed generations so older people who are out of work straight through to younger people who are out of work, with people with certain neuronal diseases and this sort of thing. And in Malta we’re working with students who are attached to church outreach and these tend to be often students with difficulties who are attached to the church. But the really exciting thing is that it works with all these different excluded groups. In different ways, I mean, but the exciting thing is that the model works. And so now we can see the radio active as a concept, using radio as an educational intervention works with all these different excluded groups so now I’ve gotta prove that it’s got some educational validity. And also that they can get something concrete out of the end of it. So, now we went on to develop this system which is quite important where we took the EU key competences for lifelong learning, we [marked] them to the radio active activities and then we recognized them through [awarding] electronic badges. [Showing] things like journalism and media production, sound engineering, communication skills and also we have a bronze-silver-gold badge system. The important thing about that, the very important thing about that is that it makes transparent and concrete informal learning, so all these key competences like communication skills, entrepreneurial skills and all these sort of things, this framework makes that explicit but it’s also really good in the way that we get the people who are involved to negotiate what skills they’re going to be covering in the radio activities. And then afterwards when they’ve acquired them we have these badge-awarding ceremonies. The fact that the universities are linked to this, i.e. people like me, means that in the extreme case we take young people who are totally disengaged from education, for example, within a matter of months they become engaged in something where they’ve acquired concrete skills, they show an improvement in confidence, efficacy and this sort of thing. And then they’ve got a concrete measure of something that they can use as a stepping stone to employment. So if they’ve got a badge in journalism and sound engineering, that is something that is concrete. It’s really important for them, it’s important for us, but it’s a recognition of what they’ve gone through. And if you compare that with what happens typically in education with these young people without this intervention, as I say, can be just a period of months, you know, being disengaged for potentially all their lives or for a few months and actually um… to actually affect that transformation in a relatively short time, I think is quite outstanding and it’s quite, it’s very exciting as a project. But it’s also very very encouraging that this is a model that does genuinely seem to work, to potentially change people’s lives, not just acquiring a few informal learning skills. Often, you see in these young people and the organizations, they just raise their level of aspiration. I think the trick is that when these… particularly these excluded groups do something that they thought was beyond them, such as making a radio programme, they then ask the question well what else can I do? So then they’re really empowered to do things that they thought were previously beyond them. And I think that that is just so exciting and of course very rewarding a project because as I’ve worked in this area for a long time and when you see the intervention really working, working on the ground… And of course, it’s evident by all sorts of informal things… The fact that people get involved before there’s money. You know, I’ve worked in psychology in university [in the performing hours/ performing arts?] and we work, we always invite other organizations in and because people get the idea and then cause the idea works you realise that it’s, it’s, it’s a very rewarding situation, you know, it’s easy to maintain cause you’re not selling something that may or may not work and that’s so, so I think, I don’t know whether that answers the question but that’s taken us to where we are now. And that’s why I think it’s very that different than a lot of projects in [inaudible] technology learning but even in community arts, I think, where we are different is these links. So there’s been community radio to engage disadvantaged young people for a long time and when the money goes, the communtiy radio goes. We know it engages young people but what the projects haven’t done before, they haven’t used low-cost technology, they haven’t gone to the organizations where the disadvantaged people are and they haven’t had this educational model behind it. So I think the fact we’ve got all these, where we’re rethinking radio, not, I think… The why it really works, is we’re really pragmatic as well. We’re not just saying, oh, radio is a wonderful thing if you get involved in radio, you know, you’ll develop these skills. We’ve been very clear about what, can people afford the technologies. Can they use them? Will this really happen, in this organization? So, I think it’s a really nice combination of a great idea, using technology, but also being very pragmatic about the context you’re working in and what will work. And this idea that we’re not selling an idea, we’re sort of growing the idea together. That makes sense.
I: Yeah, it does. It’s a great way cause you know, as you said, events [inaudible] may run out and project may end. But if you build the structure in the youth organization, those are far longer lived than any single project. You probably get a lot of feedback from the youths on these projects, on a personal level maybe, how has the response been from the youth participating especially in the first pilot project?
A: Um… I have to sound difficult not to be so positive, it’s ridiculous but… But no it’s been icredibly um… positive. It’s exceeded what we expected because they’ve been very positive about acquiring these skills but and and there’s virtually, very unusual, there’s very little negative comments but I presume those people who did feel negative would probably drop out. But I think we’ve captured something. I think they were unusually positive about what they’re learning, what they’re doing, and also with the improvements in self-esteem and confidence and empowerment and that’s what really… They would have come aware of that, I think. And this is partly cause of the organizations embraced the whole project as well. So, the youth workers, for example, in the UK have become aware of these improvements. And the improvements in themselves. And it becomes I think almost addictive that… I call it, it’s an addiction of extreme learning. And I’ll be honest it’s something I can’t totally explain because I’ve not seen it before but I think it’s this combi… So they’re very positive about the experience and also, the interesting thing is that, what I call secondary effect, they don’t just make, start making improved radio programmes, they start doing other things that they before didn’t see the relevance of, To give you a practical example, in one of the youth organizations called [Yoh] in East London. The radio… A lot of the young people of a certain class or certain type they never got… they played the Play Stations, they hung around, and these to have a female poet, and she used to, she tried to make like a street course called writers and scribes, and she was really trying to get young people to write poetry and talk about their lives, um… through poetry and only the youth worker would walk in and she’d have nobody in her class or one person, everyone else would be messing about and playing video games. But once they got involved in the radio project, the kids suddenly made the connection that oh, we can do rap songs and put them on the radio, and.. This class was full, and he said he literally walked in and he couldn’t believe it that one day he walked in suddenly, this class was really full because the young people had made through the radio and the connection that oh, we can write songs and this poetry stuff is rap actually. So they made that connection and they’d acquired other skills and I think those things are really interesting as well so it’s not just about making radio it’s about thinking in a more creative way and as I was saying earlier what I really like, and what I think is crucial in life, is this making of a connection. They saw this course wasn’t this rather abstract, you know, thing. It suddenly became very real, they could talk about their lives and they could go on the radio talking about their lives. So, um… These, these, th… So, um. So in terms of the impact on the young people, these things are really um… encouraging and really striking because not only we got these conventional things, OK, they’ve got their badges so they’ve learned some stuff, great, they can see how this applies to getting employment. We’ve done evaluations yeah, they’ve shown clear improvements in their skills. They show sort of, they perceive they show improvements in confidence. We’ve also run qualitative studies like focus groups with the young people and the youth workers. They’ve used some fantastic [inaudible] like the youth workers say it’s their flagship project, it’s had a great impact on other activities and I’ve actually thought about that quite carefully because [inaudible] is there a [inaudible] effect or a novelty effect, is this just due to fact that we’re doing something interesting and would it be the same if they were playing games or using 3D printing but the evidence is that it is more significant than the novelty effect because a lot of the same young people have stayed on the journey and when we’ve done interviews with them what they’ve said is that they’ve accumulated all sorts of different skills so they start off learning some sound engineering and basic communication skills, then they start learning about the structure of a show, what engages an audience, then they have to think about how to make thematic links between the show – why should one piece follow another… So they are quite high level conceptual skills. So what I’m saying, I think that, there’s something very attractive about the rhythm of radio, it’s something I keep saying, that allows people to keep building skills that are relevant to their lives. And so, yes, so the feedback we’ve had and we’ve done substantial questionnaire surveys and focus groups and we’ve got data from how they’ve improved and been awarded with badges and things. And it’s all strikingly positive. And I’m trying to think now deliberately… If there is a… I’ve got to be realistic if there is a negative, this is difficult to do. So for the organizations to continue to make quality programmes is ver demanding. And it’s quite in our level of intervention, it was a scaffolding approach. We create a structure where they can do it. It’s hard work for these organizations. They’ve gotta learn a lot, they’re used to things being disorganized, people coming and going so, I would say the one caveat is, it needs to be… In some organizations they’ve got involved and they’ve not been able, because they’ve had difficulties, external difficulties. They haven’t been able to keep up with the radio production. But I think that is just something we’ve got to learn and to articulate to anybody who joins this. There needs to be a baseline level of communication. If you don’t communicate, if you don’t all use emails, you don’t communicate, if you don’t have the habit of working together, turning up on time, you’ll never do this. But the really rewarding situation is that when organizations and individuals want to strive for that, they learn it in an extreme way. One negative is that in some organizations it’s difficult because they have external pressures, the money runs out, a key person leaves. So so, that, I would say if there’s a negative, it’s the… which is paradoxical, because you need to learn and we need to work hard to learn but it’s really enjoyable work. But if you can’t do that then it doesn’t work. Cause the interesting thing about making radio, it’s a very it’s a very considered process having the ideas, having discussions about the themes, capturing the content, editing the content, putting it together, if you do live performance, then have you all the skills to do it live. It’s not easy! But I just think it’s, compared to say making videos or a tv programme, but I think it’s a really nice level of difficulty where some people will learn in extreme ways and be able to do things they didn’t think they could do but inevitably that means some people won’t be able to do it and might get… Well, and therefore may not stay involved. So I guess, that’s, yes so we, so what I’m saying is that of course we’ve got papers, academic papers, where on the evaluation. So they’re available on the website and things. So, I would say the impact has been strikingly positive both in terms of formal evaluation, but also anecdotally, for me, I find and I think it’s [as sad as it is important] often you create a [formal weight] to prove your intuitions… I see the improvements in the organizations, I see the improvements in the people who I’m working with. I see people who don’t, who’ve not been comfortable even saying things, suddenly organizing a bunch of people, interviews, writing questions and this sort of thing. So, it seems to be very positive at the moment.
I: Yeah, it’s nice that the only downside is that the organizations have had to tackle these problems more effectively. And to improve their… methods.
A: They have to change, and it’s interesting because in order to do the radio successfully, they have to change, for the better. And that’s the only negative, if you can’t, you know, you won’t continue. Yeah.
I: Yeah. I also think that since you’ve introduced this a [inaudible] element into the whole system with badges and levels bronze-silver-gold, it’s a… I found that all forms of [gamefication] and game-mechanics are quite a natural or innate to young people. We play games all our lives and we have this, humans as a species, have this weird need to compete with ourselves if nothing else.
A: What’s [weird] specifically about that, at first we thought this might not work, we though it might trivialize the whole process. But I’m a great pragmatist and I believe in the… Well there’s benefits making the learning concrete, making it concrete. But what we found that it’s been really popular so it’s totally, you know, the reality is not been following my intuition at all, I think, it might be different with different groups but we found that it might be the same… It might, because in modern culture, student cult… getting rewards getting levels. It’s something young people are very comfortable with and they don’t think it’s trivial. And it might be something similar, maybe there is a crossover, everyone plays games on their phones and a… But I think the key thing this is almost like a gamefication but also a link to a university, so at the end of the day I have to decide whether there’s evidence that they’ve achieved a level of performance or not, so it does actually carry some, some weight, because you know, and we’re all serious about this. We look at the evidence and if it’s not there we say well, sod that, but also the feedback is [educative] so, for example, I don’t, I can see how you develop radio production skills but the reflective communication skills I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet but maybe if you’d critically assess your last show and make a better one and explain your journey and then we can, you’ll be in a position where we can perhaps award you the badge so… What I’m saying is that it seems counterintuitive and a bit trivial but it works it seems to work really well in fact. I think that’s another lesson there that you know don’t prejudge things, just be a bit experimental and try these things out and see whether they work or not rather than being a high minded academic prejudging things. When you don’t know, I don’t know what kids like until I see them doing things you know.
I: Has there been any um… let’s say resistance from the existing structure in in… when you give out these sort of official badges or credentials or credits or whatever, you know, is there ,has there been any difficulties in explaining to other people that what you’re actually doing, what is the concrete thing the university is giving these kids?
A: Well… We haven’t gone to that level yet and that is exactly what we’ll look into next. In other words in terms of the project this seems to work as a motivating device, it works as a way to recognize the informal learning. In terms of what other people think about them um… that is exactly what [we doing out] but remember this is actually, this is a time, time to ask the question because it’s probably in next few months of the project we’re going to be interviewing employers, members of education services, some other people, and asking this question, you know, we’ve got this badge system, what does this mean to you? Do you think it’s good? Will it matter to you? And so, and the same thing, we haven’t, the level of what we call accreditational recognition does not go beyond the project. We don’t claim that the University of East London sanctions these badges, for example, but we say that I am a Professor at the University of East London who as a member of radio active endorses them. And we do that with other universities, of course we have to be very careful not to say we are a university accreditation system. That would probably take years. And something as creative as this I don’t think would be easily fitted in but as project members the way of making the link is that us as educationalists as academics can recognize this. But so we’re really clear about the… But I think the more important test actually, my own university might eh… disagree with me on this but I think asking people in industries, so now we’ve started to award this badge, we want I want we want to start talking to people in the industries. We want to see how… I’m more interested actually, if I’m honest, I’m more interested in seeing whether we’ve got a direct route to employability without having a university accreditation. So if I’m talking to people in the creative and digital industries in London and I talk about this system which I want to, I’m more interested in their reaction cause if they say, Andrew, that doesn’t mean anything, well, if they say, Andrew, that’s really good because that’s a skill we’re looking for and it’s not always easy for us to define and yes somebody like yourself we trust you, you know, at the end of the day, so we don’t know but I think direc… is what we’re doing now, because we’ve only started to award these badges now we’ve we’ve th th th that the recognition scheme was almost the final piece in the jigsaw, because again I try to be very honest in my research if it wasn’t working there was really no point in saying well OK, if we, if this is one of those projects that we tried it but, yeah some people got interested and then they lost interest and… shows only happen when we put a lot of effort in, um, there was no point going that extra mile, as we say, but now, so it became a later development. But I I think… it will… The next few months will give us an answer to that question. And the other question is almost the subtler notion of value. If a young person, or any sort of excluded person, through getting these badges feels more confident about their own skills, that’s really important in itself, because they then might apply for a job that they wouldn’t have applied for. They might think well what all the skills can I acquire? So I think the value of these is is on a number of levels: one, of purely almost academic level making informal transparent, but the real thing is, the value it gives in terms of the self-awareness of the person who’s got them, is something that I think is powerful but we haven’t yet fully explored. And of the value of the external agencies and the employers, I think is something we haven’t yet explored so, I’m interested to see um… what we find actually. Because if it’s a surprisingly positive, as I wasn’t sure whether the scheme would really be acceptable but it showed a high level of accept amongst the young people which is great.
I: As a word an encouragement, the Gloria employment project has been running about 15 years now, and they’ve, can I say we, [inaudible] for four years now. But they’ve found about 900 kids or young people, and of those, about two thirds have got a job in the field or further education in a university or a college or whatever. And the local, well, the Helsinki sort of like the other venues and employers, they seem to know that when you hire let’s say a sound technician from Gloria, you know that he or she knows more than just the sound desk and this, you know, he or she is a strong team player, probably knows a lot about writing, media, mopping floors and anything. So I think it gathers this kind of – I wouldn’t say fame – but this recognition at least on a city wide scale. I’m fairly sure the same things should happen here, too, as you know the project goes further on and gathers recognition then obviously cause what you’re doing is so close to what we kind of have been doing, you know, it’s more than just teaching a trade. It’s… It’s a lot more than that.
A: No, you, I think, the point you have mentioned, there was the feedback we got, we made two presentations and workshops at the ECTEL conference in Gratz this year and one was on motivation and this was given by a colleague of mine [inaudible] from a project from Koblenz in Germany. And he got some very positive feedback but [one] particularly [inaudible] feedback was from commercial industrial people in the audience. And what they really liked was these improvements in confidence and self-efficacy which I thought was a surprise I thought they might think that’s a bit yeah a bit of a woolly thing… A hard minded commercial person, but no they said, this is the big problem with the apprentices and recruits, this lack of self-efficacy, the confidence to know what you’re doing, having belief in yourself and it was really interesting that it didn’t come from a psychologist. It came from actually, you know, relatively hard nosed commercial people who want people to come and do a good job. And I thought that was really interesting. Cause again, that was counterintuitive I thought me as a psychologist, I see that, oh this is fantastic, but we see this transformations in what seemed like transformations because we hadn’t proved them by psychological experiments as such but actually we started to do that going forward. But the fact that these really sort of subtle psychological dimensions are always really important to commercial companies, I thought was really interesting. Cause I thought they’d be more interested in the informal learning scales and the fact that we categorized informal learning. I can see that fits really well with a lot of new jobs but it was really interesting that it was really the improvements in confidence and the self-efficacy that they thought was really really positive.
I: When I think about it, if you wanna hire an intern to any position, would you rather choose someone who’s spent two years studying or two years doing their own thing in the same field? So obviously, but… We should probably go forward. So yeah, I think, we’re on question three… The role of education, educational model which takes [part in society] [inaudible]. Yeah. I should probably rephrase this question into… In your years of experience developing these learning environments and so on, how do you see the role of formal education and the sort of link between formal education and the industrial business or the working sector?
A: I think currently it’s in a state of crisis and I would say that internationally. I was in India… There’s a common anecdote there. People who go through the formal education system aren’t very good in the world of work. And I think that’s born out, that’s born out in the UK we think there’s a crisis, the creative and digital industries don’t have people who are qualified and skilled to work optimally in these developing industries. When I was in India a couple of years ago, the exactly the same complaint about the growing economy and there’s people who [don’t] critical thinking, creative thinking, all these sort of things. So I think, I think we’re in a state of crisis in terms of the role of the way in which formal education fits the new developing business, the new developing economies where I think informal learning is increasingly important because…
I: I need to stop you there, I need to change the battery here…
I: Mid-sentence. Sorry about this.
A: Should we speed up a bit?
I: Yeah, possibly yeah.
A: After saying we need to be concise I’m probably saying too much but…
I: It’s OK, I’ll just edit.
A: You could edit it down, yeah.
I: The if’s and and’s and the but’s out. […] I hope you’re not getting bored out there. [… ] Yeah, so, state of crisis.
A: Well, actually I can… If I start from the… Yeah I think the connection between formal learning and the world of work is in a state of crisis at the moment, as I just said. Whereas I think more informal approaches are becoming, well not just increasingly fashionable but also essential, because I think, I mean in the UK we often use the old analogy of, you know, our education system is designed for the industrial revolution where lots of people doing the same thing [allot]. So you’d be trained in a certain set of skills, then you go out to work, and all your life by the same set of skills. And formal education is based around that idea and of course in most emerging worlds of work now, it’s completely different. The skills you need are to be able to solve problems that haven’t previously existed, to make connections with things, other people haven’t made, to create services nobody even thought was a service before, to work with all sorts of different people, across disciplines… So I think, I can see why formal learning is in a state of crisis because whilst you need a clear foundation of literacy, mathematics, et cetera, to work in the creative and digital insustries or the knowledge economy you need new sets of skills which more [map onto] informal learning to be able to work independently and work in a team, to coordinate the independent work with working in a team, to be able to experiment, to take risks, to be creative, to try ideas out and not get upset if they don’t work out. So I think the reality is that informal learning now and ways of promoting informal learning is far more important than formal learning and I think… I probably should mention I think there is a clear relationship, I think there probably is a way I see, which might be a very simple way, you need to formally learn a lot of the basic skills, you need to write, you need to be able to be mathematical, you need to understand the world through geography. But maybe when you get towards graduate level [inaudible] prepare you for work, the key thing is how you put these things together in different ways but also how you adapt these things to real world so you take the world of [making ups], you’ve gotta understand cultures, cultural relevance. If you’re going to sell an app, it’s gotta have some cultural credibility, it’s gotta be relevant to the lives of people which is very different from doing maths, physics or chemistry, so I think, I think one, there’s a very clear [holloway?] between formal and the informal learning – it’s not happening. Because I think I think I see it as the foundation of formal learning should really be used as a way to work more informally. Um, and, but, and so I think, that’s the important issue at the moment. While I’ve got that simplistic view, I think as a society especially in the UK, maybe most of the world, we haven’t quite grasped this so people in industry are saying, all over the world they’re saying, in the States as well, graduates can’t do jobs. But I don’t think educationalist [establishments?] are taking this seriously. You know we need more project-based work, we need more continuous assessment, we need to spend some money on trying to assess rather difficult things like your performance in a team has created a new artefact. So I think… I think whilst everyone accepts that informal learning is increasingly important I think education establishments are very bad at addressing that challenge and I think if pressurized they just refer back to formal things oh well, we’ll just do this course that we’ve done for a long time, change it a bit, have an examination at the end, and we’ll say that person knows that knowledge and really, if I’m honest, if I’m really… Perhaps controversial as a psychologist I think some of them are testing memory and not understanding and I think – and when I say understanding I mean in the broader sense – understanding the meaning of a situation, understanding the relevance of a problem, understanding how you can re-build a team to solve a problem. All those things come out of informal everyday learning experiences in real contexts and don’t really come out of formal education so I think that’s where we are at the moment. Everybody wants it, informal learning, cause the industries are crying out for these sort of skills but the educational system is finding it difficult to deliver it and I hope I hope we’re giving a good example of that and I think this idea that, you know, I really like the idea that, for example, that the EU key competences for lifelong learning are very much linked to informal learning in the way we’ve mapped them to radio. It could be mapped to video making, it could be mapped to teamworking, you know, in engineering… I think, I think the id… I think this can be done when, but again, it’s gonna be complex. The mappings we’ve done for radio, you know, the process is what could be adapted. It’s hard work, I mean. People in our project in, our team in Wales and Germany in particular worked very hard developing this framework. You know, and I think, and we know that it’ll probably need to be adapted to other things. But the point is, it’s real. Yeah, it’s real and it works.
I: Yeah, I think that’s something, Finland might provide some insight. The educational system, the level that I’ve been trained in the universities of applied sciences or vocational universities, they no longer train people to a trade per se. There’s no more [inaudible] and stuff like that. It’s more about applying what you know into the current task at hand of course in the context of whatever you’re studying, in my case, I’m a bachelor of arts management or something in English, a cultural manager in Finland, but I didn’t actually learn any ”culture management” per se in school. It was more like business basics and stuff like that and do what you can with what you know. And that kind of stuff. I’ve run out of space on my card here I need to run out and get a new […] from Leena.
A: OK. [laughter]
[clicking sounds & sounds from the corridor]
I: We just need to empty the card.
A: OK, no problem.
I: So much important talk here.
[Finnish talk about the contents of the card]
I: Here we go. Sorry about the hassle.
A: That’s OK.
I: It got a bit longer than we thought. That’s good, you know, more material!
A: I hope I haven’t given you a horrible editing job.
I: I like long answers. Less editing. And it’s still going… I wonder will it work. We should probably go… Yeah, we’re in the education models and then, yeah, Finnish stuff. I was talking. I’ll shut up now. So entrepreneurship education in schools, combining arts, creativity, ICT technologies and so on, and the new financial models, is this the way of the future is this the path forward for a, when we are kind of running down the old industries, everything’s automatized and so on.
A: I think probably, I don’t think it’s gonna ch… I think we have probably reached the tipping point now where, if we think about how many industries are based on software, based on leisure activities, all this sort of thing, there’s a new means of like non-material production which is like stuff to do with software data. I think, I don’t think we will ever go back, my perception is machines will do the simple things human beings have been doing. Now… most most um future jobs require these entrepreneurial skills, creativity, critical thinking, having confidence to try out new ideas, all these sort of things. But and and and, I think, it’s very difficult to see how we’re going to go back to the way things used to be for a long time. But also I think the future is uncertain. So whilst I make that prediction I think it’s very difficult to work out. I think this is the important thing, and maybe there’s a bigger point here about education being responsive to the changes in both working and just the way we live our lives. So nobody really predicted the world wide web. The fact that… And also I find really hilarious that people used to, in the 1970s and 1980s, people were always saying that computers were gonna take jobs away from people, the artificial intelligence was gonna take all the jobs away and the machines were gonna be in charge and we had lots of films based on that sort of premise. And instead it’s created a whole raft of industries we didn’t anticipate. And then the internet has created a whole raft of industries we didn’t anticipate. Mobile technologies create a raft of industries I don’t think anybody anticipated. Data now is creating a raft of industries I don’t think people would anticipate so the one thing we can be certain about is that it’s gonna be uncertain. But there’s gonna be lots of jobs that require these new sets of skills. And I think, I think that’s increasingly gonna be the case. And I think there’s actually a positive about that because I think for if I get back to the sort of political dimension, a lot of these jobs, can be quite… you haven’t got to go to an established institution and get a certain qualification, in the UK that’s very devisive. You know when I talk to people who work in start-up companies they want people who can do the job. They don’t really care whether it’s a kid from the street or someone from Oxford or Cambridge. They want somebody who can make them money by doing something that’s innovative. And I think the reassuring thing is that the skills that are gonna be required in future industries aren’t gonna be delivered by traditional means of education which actually in the UK is really a form of separating the elites and different class divisions if I’m completely honest and I think it’s really healthy, both for individuals in societies but also for people who want to make money. I think it’s really interesting that the concerns of people who want to make money and the concerns of someone like myself who has a strong sense of social justice can actually be more closely aligned than before. Cause what I’m saying is that people who can develop skills and be valuable now that don’t have to have had a traditional upbringing and a level of privilege in education. They can have great ideas. There comes the insight into a culture that is becoming currency. I think things are opening and I think changing for the better I think it’s more interesting, it’s more exciting but I think it’s difficult to predict.
I: The future usually is. So the last part is about the youth guarantee models and so on. You had some insight into how things used to be here so let’s go to the… We can probably skip the horrible situation in Europe, everybody knows that there’s youth unemployment rampant in every country. So youth guarantee models as government projects, what’s your take on these?
A: We [inaudible] them in the UK in a very structured way I think was in the 1980s when we had things like the youth employment programme, we had employment training something, initiative maybe, but we’ve had programmes that have been delivered deliberately aimed at getting youth into employment and they’ve not really worked I mean most.. And they’ve collapsed as [approaches]. You could approach it from a very learning motivation, the way into the problem was trying to get young people off at not being out of work into to doing a job but they didn’t really want to do that job and often it wasn’t a job that was really very interesting. The extreme… more conspiratorial people used to think it was a way of producing cheap labour. But it didn’t work. So um… So these schemes in the past that have been really focused and quite determinalistic, ”you have to do this or you don’t get your unemployment benefit”, have not worked. They’ve not worked for the young people, they’ve not worked for the employers. I think that’s interesting per asking why. So now I think in the UK we’ve promised this, we’ve promised this this… what we call it this guarantee for youth, everybody should have a job, but we’re not really delivering it beyond the political rhetoric. I can see why because when they have delivered before it hasn’t worked. So I can see there’s a really interesting situation here. Of course the logical thing is a really good careful assessment of why it didn’t work in the past and try and do a better version in the future. But I’ve got a more radical view on this that alas… ironically [in the 1980s] when lots of people were unemployed in the UK they used that space to develop skills that allowed them to do things they wanted to do. People who became musicians, painters, photographers and then the interesting thing is that they had the completely wrong solution to the problem. Often people who are left with a space were they unemployed but had some money to do, they developed more motivating interesting ways of developing careers and there’s almost like they developed the careers because they didn’t have this enforced mapping to a job. So I think I think without saying we’ve gotta pay money for doing nothing, cause I’m not saying that, I think we should really look at that process the way that often you’re remotivated by being subversive by doing something that really matters to you personally by doing something that where you have an impact on around you. Forming a band you’re learning how to work together with a bunch of people. You’re learning how to be self-critical, you’re learning how to put on events. All these sort of, these are really useful skills in life. But if there was somebody, there was never really, I don’t think, a scheme for forming a band, if you did have a scheme for forming a band, it would destroy the dynamics of forming a band. So I think we should really look at the importance of having spaces where you can develop, and I would I would, I would probably, if I was in charge of this youth guarantee programme, I would try and work as a catalyst to really get people with a knowledge of what industries want and things and with a knowledge of how, you know, what really makes people tick, what motivates them and try and find ways to making those mappings in a much more experimental way. But I think the important thing is you don’t know what you want to do until you do it in certain ways so I think looking at ways to creating spaces for youth, for young people to do something where they really harness their their their their passions and their motivation, I think that’s gonna be the key. That’s gotta be the key. And I think sometimes the best way to promote passion and activity is to leave people completely alone to find their own way. I think this is why education is expensive actually. If we’re getting down to the… it’s a mixed economy and I find this [inaudible] so the radio active is like a [microcosmos] of this. We get some people that just saying to them: ”You can do that. You can write a song. You could go and conduct an interview.” They… Just that’s all they need to go and develop the skills, self-organize and do it. Others need a lot more scaffolding. You know, some people need a lot more encouragement. And I think the education system, and similarly, some people might need emotional scaffolding, might be technically very good but what they need is the social skills. They need how to be confident in a group, to be persuasive if they’ve gotta good idea. So the point is when you look at these different requirements for learning, it’s very complicated and probably very expensive. But that’s what real learning is I think, I think sort of a… I think, I’m a great believer… I think something like youth guarantee is really important. I think to focus on this has been a really important transformative period between you grow up and you go to school and all of a sudden you’ve gotta start earning your own living, maybe supporting a family, try and have an impact on the world. It’s a huge transition! But I think if we look… If we’re a bit more experimental, a bit more personal, a bit more psychological that it’s about motivating, releasing passions, structuring ambitions, giving role models, something about working to grow and inspire the person rather than trying to tell them what they’re going to fit into I think would be much more… So it should be youth guaranteed it should be to give them help to do something interesting rather than give them a hand to put them into a job that they don’t want to do. But that does leave the question who’s going to do those jobs we don’t want to do, I guess.
I: The machines?
I: So your view is that you give people time and space and support to do what they actually want to do, to develop themselves to the point that they can employ themselves or find a way to earn a living and support their families, too?
A: Yeah. I think we can’t be too soft and liberal about this, I think the concept of hard work is very important. But I think if that’s linked to passion it becomes less of a problem. But you don’t get anywhere without hard work. It’s the same with creative process, to be creative it is very true you need to know the rules in order to break them often. But I think the same level of discipline as well, I mean if you take a some really interesting contemporary example, take the artist Damien Hurst, he’s incredibly hardworking, he was the person organizing events before anybody else was organizing events. He suddenly realized he could make much more money by getting people working for him than making everything himself. You know, he’s the most successful artist of all time. I would argue, he’s probably the most commercially sort of sensed sort of acute and also hardworking artist. He doesn’t drink or take drugs or anything and he’s dedicated himself to being an artist. And I think you have to have that as well… And that’s why role models, so even like that story and other successful people often, you know, you get very little.. So creating these spaces but I think we still can’t get away from the fact, and I think something’s a misnomer, cause I think sometimes success is glamourized. People do this anecdotally and say ”Well, I had this one idea, it worked out… We formed this band, and so” and usually, take a band, a contemporary band like Elbow, for example, very successful, spent like ten years not earning anything just trying to find their own style. So I think, I think, if that combination of encouraging creativity, giving a space, but also hard work, discipline, you know, you’ve got to have those… and determination as well. Determination, if you’ve got a great idea, and this is very relevant to the way you get money and you go to five undercapitalists and they all say ”No”. Well, you gotta know that you gotta either take the feedback or think actually it is a great idea, I’m gonna go to the sixth, I’m gonna go to the seventh. So I do think that you can eek out sort of skills and again pedagogically those things may be best done through inspirational role models rather than saying to somebody you’ve gotta work really hard. You know, I think it’s much better if they get… And again education should be much more perhaps you know sort of human so, you know, there should be more emphasis on that. Bringing people in who got interesting stories to tell about how they went from being something, you know, did something really special, and that would be really, and that would be a way perhaps um… educating young people into how they become something maybe special by getting these people to tell their stories rather than saying this may be a way to do it. But there is a way to do it by just you know giving people concrete examples of um… and motivational stories. Yeah.
I: Yeah, I think it’s interesting how you link passion and hard work. Usually hard work or complaining about hard work is associated with the blue collar segment whereas rarely hear an entrepreneur who does what he or she really likes or loves complaining ”I spent today eleven hours doing what I love” so therefore it kind of, the passion nullifies the hard. But, I think we’re done with the questions. Let’s do like a final… um…
A: … thank you and goodbye.
I: Yeah. Thank you and farewell and so on and so forth. So now we don’t actually know the audience but it’s probably just university staff and related project staff and so on and so forth. So it can be quite cold and institutional. Okay. Go ahead.
A: W-what do you want me to say?
I: Just like… Wow, a tough spot. I don’t want to cut it off at like that…
A: Maybe we should try to make a connection between what we’re doing.
I: Yeah. Let’s wrap it up nicely. Um, so…
A: Cause I think an important point to make about all this is that for this thing to work you need all the pieces in place.
I: It’s a puzzle but…
A: Yeah, that’s right. So if somebody said to me this Radio Active project seems to be doing really well, how why is it working and is it gonna carry on, I would say the key thing is not just all the rather flamboyant things I’ve just spoken about but one, the key thing is the existing organizations for whom participating in these informal learning activities is actually complementing their on-going activities and improving them as an organization; the fact that we have stable institution called the university that’s doing this, we’re not some small company, we’re not some youth organization, we’re not some [inaudible, rural?] university, we’re not going anywhere. Also now the fact we’ve got three departments actively involved in this project – education, psychology and performing arts – all committed to it. So the reason why this project works is that people have been committed. And it’s interesting because being committed for two important reasons. One they’re first committed because they really get the idea, they see the value of it, but two then we get funding from all the departments, give them space out of their teaching cause this becomes part of the research. So I think it’s really important these projects fit in with the structures that you have to operate in and make it work. So that’s what I’m saying, to run a successful project you’ve gotta not see it as a project, for want of a better way of putting it. It’s really gotta be linked into the fabric of what will be maintained. And I can’t and I think that’s, we’ve done that. And now we’ve done that, and that’s why it’s sustainable. Obviously we’ve got ambitions to go, I want to go world wide, I want to go more thouroughly throughout the UK, I want to really emphasize the educational aspects and also I want to emphasize the psychology aspects. We’ve been working with psychology and we’re going to be using radio as an intervention for people who misuse drugs and we’re looking at mental health more generally. But I think the whole point is that it’s not this project is as integrated as it is a project, you know, people it’s integrated strongly into… And it serves that purpose, it’s interesting psychology, it’s a really interesting intervention for out clinical psychology people, for music technology people. Bringing this psychology into the psychology of making music, what is it meaning, what’s the meaning of music. We’re giving everybody, this is really important, it’s creating a dynamic where the project is happening but these drivers, it’s satisfying drivers in different departments it’s hopefully making [the placement] for the music technology students more interesting cause you don’t hear people talking about education psychology, bringing people from a youth organization to work with the students. So it worked because it’s interesting but… It’s interesting to do, but actually, it worked for us in education because this is a radical approach to informal education. But it’s linked to all these creative and digital industries and the new ways of learning you should be looking at. And I thinks that’s probably an important point and it seems to be what you have at Gloria. The… you know if you see as a project almost as an excuse to organize existing organizations rather than say… And this is so different, and it’s hard work. The other message about that is, it’s hard work. It’s much easier to do a nice little project, it’s clearly defined, you do it while the money’s there and when the money goes you stop doing it. You haven’t got to persuade the dean, you haven’t got to persuade heads of departments, you haven’t got to persuade directors of organizations. So I say, this is a hard way to do things but it’s much more rewarding. But I think I think this is really the way these projects should be done. You know, you’ve really got to work with existing organizations and you’ve gotta satisfy the needs of organizations and if you don’t do that you probably won’t be sustained. But I think I think that the interesting thing about that is… I’d say we’ve got an ecology around the project, you know, things that come and change and things that are stable. And I think you seem to have a similar ecology with Gloria. It’s almost like a very simple human thing. In order to do something radical you’ve gotta be a level of security that people think you’re gonna be there, that people who are involved know what they’re doing. And it’s almost like, it’s an interesting thing to me, the interesting paradox, to do something radical you’ve got to be stable.
I: Yeah, that’s it. I just realized how to wrap this up. So to put the whole into a nice little package. Metropolia is a fairly large school about 30,000 students and about few thousand staff, but they have fairly little projects that take education out of the school system, out of the walls of school, into the real world so to say. Even though there’s a legal requirement for vocational…
A: I call it education in the wild.
I: So, so, if you could send a greeting of few sentences to Metropolia on the importance of breaking the four walls sometimes, that would be nice.
A: Well, the first thing I say, it’s essential on a number of levels. The first level is that it’s essential because the changing nature of industrial commercial practices means you’ve gotta apply what you do and education has got to play to that. The old way of doing things does not fit if we want our economies to develop, our health services to get better, our education system to get better. But also on a personal level it’s much more interesting for all students who do these contextualized placements or who’d learn outside of these traditional settings benefit from it. Also I think it just means us as educators and thinkers we really have got to be more open-minded about what we consider to be education and learning. The fact that we think education and learning only happen in institutions is crazy. The moment we come out of the womb, in fact when we’re in the womb we learn. We learn every day, we learn from watching a film, we learn from conversations with friends. I think that taking one a more open and liberal view on education but at the same time with some level of discipline. We’re not talking about learning happens everywhere, you can wake up and have inspiration. No, it’s about looking more into reality of learning in the wild as I call it. Studying it. Making it happen. You know, to me it’s arguably the only way forward. It’s the only way forward because it’s been neglected for so long. It’s a really silly idea. No psychologist would say that in order to learn you have to go into a building and thirty people learn at the sort of same speed, the same sort of things. It’s crazy. It’s a good management model, for the post industrial revolution it was an OK model. It’s totally out of date now. And I think my message must be the same message to my own vice-chancellor, whilst this seems like a complex problem, it’s going in the right direction. It’s an honest approach. We can’t get away from the fact that the world has changed, it’s uncertain, creativity is so important. Problem solving is important. Taking risks is important. What I call discipline risk taking is important. We won’t get away from the fact that people don’t like going to the uni… A lot of courses, people, students don’t really enjoy learning. Often lecturers don’t enjoy teaching. So why are we continuing to do it? And also the fact that, you know, there is, if we take some really ambitious sort of implications of what we’ve done on Radio Active it’s that you can do these embedded projects, embedded in real activities, people learn really well them skills, and we’re just a little example, a micro cosmos of the world, but you know, I’m sure there’s other ways of doing things, it might be the way that people work in engineering factory. They don’t do a course named [inaudible] in universities and companies in engineering or medicine or whatever. I think we just got to get away from this idea that learning is an abstract thing. And it’s divorced from context and divorced from technology. And just embrace new ways of doing things. So it’s difficult but I think I think I think it’s doable but I suppose I’d almost argue there’s people saying it’s going to be very expensive to rethink our education system, I would say it’s even more expensive educating people often to things they don’t want to learn and things they’re not happy learning and are then no use. So there’s got to be another way.
I: Thank you.
A: Thank you.