From #future of education

Who am I as a leaner?

Question from: “What Future for Education?” a coursera MOOC

Question: Based on your experience as a learner, what do you think you will be able to get out of this course? And what ideas do you already have about the future of education?

The first part of this question is easy enough to answer: inspiration.  Since 2011, I’ve gone through a number of MOOCs, and every time my ideas of education and learning change.  Sometimes the change is subtle, and at other times radical.  While course content plays a role, most of the change comes from when I interact with other course participants and facilitators.  I far too often get caught in my own head, especially if I am enacting change in the classroom.  Having a touchstone among other educators helps me to navigate the changes I’ve made, but it is also amazing what can be learned by the examples and ideas presented by others.  So I am looking for inspiration as a key by product of this course.

The future of education is something I think about a great deal, and what I see more and more is the state of flux we as educators are in with the new generations of students hitting the classroom (in my case, college students).  There are terms like ‘digital native’ thrown around, as well as different ideas about the motivation and ‘ability’ of modern students.  I’ve come to realize that most of this just muddies the waters, and distracts from many of the core issues.

Thanks to the internet, there is tremendous access to the bulk of human knowledge, as well as access to an enormous amount of drek.  One aspect of the future of education is to help students become self-actualized learners by helping them differentiate between vetted material and rubbish.  The second major goal is to help them build the context of a discipline, not just repeat facts or talk at the students.  With the discipline in context, the student can apply their knowledge, not just regurgitate what was written.  So two of the major goals for the future of education is helping students curate knowledge and assisting students build a contextual model of their academic discipline.

Going back to the title: who am I as a learner?  I always have to remind myself when I deal with students that finding motivation was always hard for me.  If I was interested in the material, nothing could stop me from learning.  Yet, if I found the material, or the teacher, boring, nothing could get me to learn, save sheer dogged determination.  As I’ve aged, I realize that my interests have expanded, and so too has my desire to learn from the models of other disciplines (such as education).  One major thing for me is that I like to learn as part of a group.