I have spent years working with students who need remediation in basic skills such as writing, reading and math. I have seen many of them go on a be successful in a chosen career or field. The great thing about the Adult Basic Education programs is that they provide a diagnostic tool which determines where the student’s skills are lacking and then delivers content based upon that student’s individualized learning needs. With this method the student was only learning what he or she demonstrated that they didn’t know and building on skills they already had in place. Its amazing simplistic and effective.
I have also seen student learn through applying what they know, these students learn kinesthetically in a lab or work type setting. This type of learning is amazingly effective..you can see immediate cause and effect of the skills that they have learned and applied..it works.
Learning, to me, is individualized and what works for one person in any given situation may not work for another person in the same situation. Acknowledging that this type of learning occurs is what is disruptive to education right now. It’s disruptive to education because, in my opinion, it means that I as learner can design my learning plan based upon my individualized needs, my learning goals, and also design how I want that learning delivered based upon what will work the best for me.
I will use myself as an example. I like to read but can honestly say I really did not read much of my text books when I got at the graduate level..not in-depth anyway and I am surprised at how many other I know say the same thing. For all of you out there who are seeking fascinating resources to present to your students, I am sure this revelation comes as a disappointment. So how did I learn what I need to learn and successfully pass my grad level courses? By taking lots of notes at lecture and discussion, my background knowledge and experiences of what I already knew and applying it to my tests and essays. Do this mean that my learning should not be validated? No I don’t think so.
I also learned by listening to and talking with others. I think this is what we call social learning today. I think some might call this cheating, at least back in that day or one may question if this is original thinking i.e.) reading the resource materials and developing your own ideas versus what maybe considered copying ideas from others. I don’t see it that way at all. It is a self reflection process with others and defining your own approach and interpretations of the concept you are studying.
I see students working together, studying together and discussing what they are learning everyday. Whether this is online, face to face, formal or informal this is how learning happens. What happens outside the classroom for an individual student is just as important as what happens inside the classroom, formalized lab or clinical learning setting and that is how that student takes what she or he learns and applies it in the real world setting. It is the results, the reactions of others, and feedback that a student receives that reinforces or redirects what they have applied. Cause – effect, feedback and changes that need to be made.
One thing that we recognize is that Motivation! is key. If I am learning in open education resources, in a classroom, or on the job..I need to be motivated, as a learner, to make sure my learning is happening. I also need to be surrounded by other learners and guides or teachers who are just as motivated and who motivate me. We need to understand what it is that motivates us, what engages us and how.
For those of us in education I think we need to develop within others an openness to learning, why learning is important and understand how learning can be motivational and how to instill that in others. It seems like a big task if I had the answer to that I would put it right here;
But I don’t. Maybe someone out there does. But I do think this is why we get excited about the next and best technology, and sometimes technology does unlock that motivational piece. I do think that open education resources is brilliant because it provided learners with access to knowledge and content and if they were motivated they could learn on their own! And with the MOOC concept we participate by the thousands in this learning. We are motivated by our connections and dialogue with others, by opportunity and convenience. And learning is fun, experiential and “rhizomatic” as we learn and connect with others.
This isn’t rocket science and I am not going to research it ..let someone else do that. I just know what I have seen and experienced after 15 years in higher education.
So this is my Change11 post for the week.