About LDI

Mission
Vision
Communities Served
The Challenge
LDI's Response
Institutional Ethics
LDI's Emerging Network

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Mission
We change the way you think about learning.

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Vision
We see learning as an essential dimension of the human existence, pervading life in all its different aspects. Learning engages people, as well as the social entities they constitute, throughout the lifespan. It is a fundamental condition for human beings to interact constructively with an evermore rapidly changing complex environment and to be able to do so being fully aware of the history of humanity and the planet. Learning is therefore a crucial dimension of sustainable development. We consider learning to be something inherently social and thus look at learning individuals in the context of learning communities. Learning communities represent different levels of organizational complexity. Each individual is normally part of a variety of learning communities in the immediate sense, such as a school or training context, the family, places of worship, the workplace, the marketplace. Learning communities in this restricted sense can be seen as part of larger learning frameworks that put them in context, such as learning cities, professional communities, spiritual communities, political parties, the economy. Those larger frameworks, again, are integrated in yet broader contexts of learning, and so on. As we have become increasingly aware of the limits of our own planet, concepts like the learning society and the learning world have thus become important notions at the overall level. The totality of the various hierarchically nested learning contexts, people and communities, together with the resources contained in them, make up the learning environment as a whole. The collective responsibility for the ecology of that environment, and each individual's role in its participatory management, is among LDI's essential concerns.

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Communities Served
In its pursuit to provide leadership in the development of learning, both conceptually and as expressed in innovative practice, LDI serves
· scientific communities
· communities of practice
· policymakers.
It promotes - through research and action - learning in its broadest sense, recognizing its multifaceted nature, ensuring the integrity, completeness and inclusiveness of the learning environment at large, and supporting the emergence and evolution of dynamic learning communities around the world. In serving the various communities mentioned above, LDI's focus is a transnational one. It is particularly interested in contributing to equitable use of all available resources for learning worldwide.

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The Challenge
Learning is an innate part of the human existence, covering the entire lifespan. However, policy makers, researchers, developers and practitioners have largely focused on a narrow slice of the learning spectrum, i.e. school-based learning and alternative modalities inspired by it, such as corporate training and distance education. In this context, the emphasis has been on learning as an individual activity, rather than on its essentially social dimensions. This situation is unsatisfactory. Many learning needs remain unmet. Large proportions of humanity become frustrated in their efforts to learn. There is a need to broaden our conception of learning to be inclusive and developmental.
These problems characterize the world as a whole. They are not specific for either developing or developed regions or contexts. LDI will thus address the crisis of learning in a global perspective, seeking to empower individuals and communities to act creatively and constructively upon the issues that confront them. Any practical choices to focus on particular regions or contexts will be driven by a vision of the world as one in which all citizens are both locally and globally empowered to constitute dynamic learning communities, using resources for learning that are for common use and under participative responsibility.

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LDI's Response
Creating conditions for the learning environments of today and tomorrow: The broad aim of LDI is to establish the conditions of growth for comprehensive learning environments that can, in an open and flexible way, respond to diverse and changing learning needs of people and communities. Such comprehensive learning environments thrive on diversity. They build on what already exists (and what may have to be rethought and transformed), alongside the development of additional factors, processes and infrastructure. The latter concern includes interests ranging from the probing of local knowledge to the exploration of the potential of technologies, such as for creating digital networks of learners around the world or the strengthening of local communities through video or community radio.

Transdisciplinarity: LDI's vision recognizes the contributions to the development of learning from the perspective of different academic as well as technical and organizational disciplines. These include, inter alia, psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, complexity theory, computer science, anthropology, sociology, instructional systems design, economics, cultural studies, communications and management. Rather than just bringing together the different pieces of knowledge from each of these areas, LDI will aim to transcend the boundaries of each of them within the context of a transdisciplinary framework. On the basis of such a vision it will contribute to changing the ways in which we think and talk about learning related issues.

Research into action - action into research: Learning is a key factor for sustainability and growth. It is therefore important that learning be given a vastly more comprehensive meaning and that its practice and underlying discourse be developed in a richer fashion. LDI will contribute to this goal through research and action. The two areas are intimately and mutually related. On the one hand, research will derive its inspiration from practice and will be carried out with a view to practical implications. On the other hand, innovative practice, to be generated through the work of LDI, will derive its rationale from what is known through research. LDI will develop these efforts in a networked configuration (both virtual and real) with like-minded partners. In establishing itself it will seek affiliation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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Institutional Ethics
We believe that learning is a key dimension of the human condition and that it is essential for the harmonious growth of individuals and humanity at large. We also believe that the harmonious growth of the society of human beings, in constructive interaction with the rest of the universe, is of essential importance within a vision that recognizes the ecological integration of humans and humanity in the broader context. That belief is furthermore based on the assumption that the capacity of humans to reflect upon themselves and on their relations with their environment, dispositions them uniquely to play a critical role in how the world evolves. We see ahead of us incredible potential, the wise use of which can benefit all of humanity and the habitat on which it thrives and to which it contributes, as well as the possibility of total decline and eventual self-destruction. We see learning as having everything to do with the human ability to live on the edge and thus to keep local and global systems in dynamic equilibrium, providing them with the best abilities for co-evolutionary growth.
 
Within the framework of the above vision, the prime goals of LDI are:
· to promote learning in the broadest sense possible, ranging from individual learning to organizational learning at different levels of complex organization
· to foster the development of the conditions in society that promote and facilitate learning in the above sense
· to care for the organic integration of the learning environment at large, ensuring its ecological soundness.
 
In pursuing the above goals, LDI will engage in activities that are directly linked to these goals. It may also undertake activities that are only indirectly connected to them. LDI sees it as its responsibility to continually develop its internal consciousness about how its strategies and actions relate to its vision, mission and goals. In addition, it undertakes to clarify this position in transparent ways to its partners, clientele and sponsors and seeks to involve them in this process. It is conscious of the desirability to always be as constructively critical of its own vision and the ways it tries to implement it as of the thoughts and actions of others. It therefore adheres decidedly to the idea that the best way for it to play its role is by applying to itself the principles it also advocates to others: those of organizational learning.
 
The above position has implications for how LDI cares for itself and its resources. Such care, as expressed in sound administration and management of resources (financial and otherwise), will never be an end in itself. Institutional sustainability and growth are seen as part and parcel of the larger problématique LDI considers itself part of. Within that context, it will be conscious of both itself and its environment and seek to develop them together in a balanced manner. In other words, while money will have to be charged for services provided, this will be done within the spirit of the goals of the organization. Modalities will be sought that take into account the nature of established partnerships and reasonable expectations as to what each can and should contribute and how parties should work together to generate, share and manage the resources required to attend to their shared interests. LDI is, in this context, particularly concerned with the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities in the world. In working with partners in different circumstances, LDI will seek to act in a balancing manner while providing services and being compensated for them.

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LDI's Emerging Network
LDI is being developed around partnerships that address specific problem areas. A number of these collaborative areas has been conceived. Details about these efforts can be found under 'focus areas of activity' and, as far as specific actions are concerned, under "events." Many contacts result from these efforts. Following is an alphabetically arranged initial selection of individuals who, at the time LDI was created, saw their motivations as converging with those that drive the development of LDI and who participated - and mostly continue to participate - in thinking the idea through, helping LDI to follow suit on its mission and vision.

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Jan Visser, former Director at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for Learning Without Frontiers, initiated the effort to create LDI and has coordinated its development. Jan Visser can be contacted at <jvisser@learndev.org> or by fax at (1-928) 569-7978 or (44-870) 125-7432.

 

 

 

 

 

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