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A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
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A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The twenty-first century is a world in constant change. In A New Culture of Learning, Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown pursue an understanding of how the forces of change, and emerging waves of interest associated with these forces, inspire and invite us to imagine a future of learning that is as powerful as it is optimistic. Typically, when we think of culture, we think o ...more
Paperback, 137 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-science
I really enjoyed reading this book, which is full of interesting ideas and critiques. The main thesis is that the combination of "unlimited" access to information (i.e., the Internet) and an environment with enough structure and boundaries to inspire innovation leads to a "new culture" of learning: playful, exploratory, self-motivated, and *collective*.

Here, collective means that we have the opportunity to learn with and from many others, in a peer-based relationship, in contrast to traditional
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
Jul 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a very short book, only 100 pages long, but the author still manages to talk around the topic instead of delivering. He explains that "kids today" are even more ill-suited to lecture than students in the past. There is a lot of talk about how explicit knowledge, like the exact speed of light, is fine presented in the format of lecture or text, but to really understand a topic you need tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge comes from experience and interaction. In a learning environment, you g ...more
Karel Baloun
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This 2011 book takes a while to get started, at least for this silicon valley reader who doesn’t need 1/3 of the book to explain how the internet has changed casual, lifestyle learning, especially from decade old research. Much less how engaging entertainment learning has become! Nevertheless, even these anecdotes are mostly enjoyable, and all the points are clearly supported and concise.

“We propose reversing the order of things. What if, for example, questions were more important than answers?
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Where imaginations play, learning happens...

"What if, for example, questions were more important than answers? What if the key to learning were not the application of techniques but their invention? What if students were asking questions about things that really mattered to them?" ~Thomas

This might be one of the most thought provoking books I've read about learning in awhile...and I read a lot! Thomas explains how play is the key to learning and the most essential skill of the 21st century. This
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Summary: World of Warcraft saves the world and brings paradise to Earth. The basic idea is not bad but a lot in the book is too simplified or modified to fit the authors` purpose and lacks broader context. ...more
The Lazy Reader
Fascinating exploration of how the internet is proving the old, 18th century static system of education increasingly obsolete, inconsistent and ill-equipped for the new, technological age of constant change and disruption.
It posits the solution in Internet play, niche online hobby communities and gaming, which is definitely exciting to think about it. Worth a read.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
This slim volume provided some interesting food for thought regarding education in the 21st century. The culmination is primarily an argument for utilizing gaming as valid learning platform. Although well-reasoned and supported, it failed to address several problems incuding: meeting state and national standards, evaluation and how to deal with students who do not succeed in the gaming culture. What this book does bring to the table is an interesting discussion of tacit vs. explicit learning. Mo ...more
Paul Signorelli
If doing is learning, there's plenty to learn and do with the ideas Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown present in "A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change." Working with the theme of social/collaborative learning that we've also encountered in many other recent books and articles, Thomas and Brown take us through a stimulating and brief--but never cursory--exploration of "the kind of learning that will define the twenty-first century." And it won't, ...more
The book is a manifesto of BIG IDEAS. While maddeningly vague and sometimes frustratingly nonlinear, the authors' arguments offer a provocative and serious challenge to educators. By highlighting the strong suits of internet-based learning communities, they reveal how effectively (some) students can learn outside the traditional institutions of education. The challenge, as a college teacher, is how to adapt their ideas into a more traditional college classroom, semester, degree plan, etc.

One th
Elina Salminen
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
John Seely Brown was introduced to me (in conversation, not in person) as a visionary who will turn by brain inside out. Which admittedly is a pretty tough expectation to live up to. But as I was reading his collaboration with Douglas Thomas, I was fluctuating between rolling my eyes and going "Well, that's kind of interesting."

So, the good: Thomas and Seely Brown make an argument that learning has already changed, and that the education system needs to catch up. The change is reflected best in
Jody Frodahl
In the book A New Culture of Learning, Thomas and Brown pose the following question: “What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?” (17). Through analogy to gaming communities, blogs, and other collectives (content-neutral platforms that are defined by the interactions among participants), the authors present a new vision for ...more
Ahmed Hamad
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don't think I like this book. While it provides some cool ideas about a new age of learning, the dramatization and overstatement of how cool these ideas are sucks. Using the internet and the tools that technology has provided us with to connect for learning certainly can be helpful, but to go ahead and claim that we should make this the center of a new age of learning is dangerous. It can easily lead to the deterioration of education and the facilities of the mind along with it. It is understa ...more
Andrew A.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Quick read with some good ideas laid out in an easy to read/understand format. Not 100% on board with the whole conclusion though, talking about World of Warcraft being the pinnacle of, "indwelling," and, "collective." I was a gamer as a kid and while I see the argument being made, there's a line between translating that problem-solving to the real world. I would've liked to see people listed as WOW players who have contributed in some way, with a thesis, or research, or an invention of some kin ...more
Some interesting insights on the transition from a teaching-centered to a learner-centered and more distributed, peer-to-peer, interactive culture of learning. Aside from some insights, the book is overrated and a bit shallow in the core argument it makes. Less of a book's core argument and more like a series of blog posts on a technology magazine. You might want to read it if you have a spare day during a weekend and have not much else to do, OR if the topic is very dear to you ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: dead-tree, masters
This was a throwback to the "Web 2.0" hysteria for me. Reading it in today's context shows how overstated were the claims that the Internet was going to transform culture into a collaborative, understanding utopia. Nevertheless, there are some very helpful concepts in this book, most notably for me the concept of a "collective" as opposed to a "community." ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
They have a moderately interesting idea with no clear way of how you implement this in areas of teaching that do not directly lend themselves to World of Warcraft or the like. But maybe I just don't get it. Also would be curious to know (I will google it) if more men than women play these"MMOs" b/c these solutions seemed male-oriented. Still, some ideas that I will ponder. ...more
Anip Sharma
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elucidates the new culture of learning that is the need of the hour in the 21st century by focussing on the interplay of knowing making and playing. extremely inclined to the idea presented about collective indwelling and how people and learning flourish in an environment with tremendous resources and defined boundaries.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is at least 7 years old and I have read it three times. It is an inspiring, easy read. Great for facilities or policymakers. If you loved Ken Robinson's TedTalk you will love this book. I like it better than Robinson's books. ...more
Sarah Maier
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The discussion on how gamers learn was quite interesting. My husband is a gamer and a great learner. A good, fast read.
Rebecca Hermann
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great overview and concept but didn't go as deep into application as I would have liked. ...more
Linda Rosario
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must for educators and researchers.
Chris Kan
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
The positives of social media and AI for learning in teenagers, before it happened; optimistic view about digital as an engine for social dialectic and discourse.
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exciting read for me. I love the ideas, but think putting them into practice is going to be far more difficult to execute than the authors would like to admit.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
I think this book works as a proper starting point and introduction to emerging models of collaborative learning in participatory online communities. The authors do well to highlight the potential benefits of self-directed creative inquiry and collaborative problem solving, and they shine a light on the topic of tacit vs. explicit learning, and tease new models of information literacy. I would have liked to see a more meaningful discussion of the practical application of these big ideas, across ...more
Corrie Campbell
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Seely Brown and Thomas hit the nail on the head when they talk about knowledge in the context of education: "In the twenty-first century...knowledge is becoming less a question of 'What is the information?' and more of a 'Where is the information?'" Seely Brown and Thomas replicate a 2006 survey where 18 to 24 year olds attempted to "find Iraq" on a map and 63% were deemed "geographically illiterate" because they could not. However, they added a twist and gave their students a computer instead o ...more
Stan Skrabut
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
About a month ago, Dr. Cliff Harbour, Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming College of Education, recommended that I read Thomas and Brown's book, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change*. He knew I was constantly questioning the role of education and learning, and he thought this would be an interesting read for me. This book is one of many taking a hard look at education and learning, and finding they are not one in the same. Read more ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
A New Culture of Learning crystallized my cluster of experiences with the open ed movement--it's a good primer on empowering students to take responsibility for and invest in their education. The authors address peer learning, learning collectives, and the importance of play all in accessible, optimistic prose.

It's also prompted me to re-evaluate the structure of my P2PU poetry course< /a> to reflect more self-directed projects and learner buy-in.

I think perhaps that the authors are too optimist
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a relatively short book with one simple theme; the process of learning is evolving and you can either fight it or take advantage.

The new culture of learning is based around the prevalence of information and potential learning resources. Students now learn more from the process of learning and the communities fostered than from the factual information that is fed to them. Students also learn best when they are able to follow their passions. In the words of the author, “Different people,
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it
The ideas presented point to some ways of integrating a new model of education into the classroom. The power of inquiry, play, and the collective are keys to any good classroom. And for the most part I am on board with what they are saying. But it does become quite clear that this book serves more as a hopeful aspiration blind to the everyday workings of the classroom. I am confident neither author has taught in the elementary school or high school setting, leaving us a book not based in reality ...more
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