Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Learning with Passion vs. Custodial Education
Linda shared this article about online education with me. She knew it was timely as I am in my last week with the group of Eighth Floor participants going through the OnlineLearning Series – this is a class that helps educators learn how to teach in an online environment. I want to pull out a few points to share as I feel this is timely for everyone, every educator, not just my class. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety: Clayton Christensen: Why online education is ready for disruption, now.
The first point that really, really, really caught my eye was this: “Human beings with the best education tend to do best in the marketplace.” My first thought – besides human beings, what living being even gets an education, and furthermore, takes it to a marketplace? I will give you that I am a bit of a wiseacre, but come on. Second thought – I totally agree. When an education counts, those with the best have the best chance. Third thought – those who learn online are more likely to get the best. They participate far more deeply in their own learning than those who learn in a face-to-face class. Online learners have to participate in every part of the class and their learning – they have to contribute to the discussion forum, they have to participate in group work, they have to make comments on a peer-review, etc. In a F2F class, it is far too easy for most students to sit in a chair and passively observe the goings on in a class, whether that be lecture, group work, class discussion, etc.
Next point: “The internet has changed how we interact with time.” Ummmm . . . yep. We have treated learning like work, 9-5, for so long. Thus, the word custodial sits with us. Nothing about the term custodial education sounds interesting. Nothing about being told I have to learn between the hours of 7:45 am and 3:30 pm sounds like it will encourage me to be a passionate life-long learner. With access to the internet, I can be learning all the time and anytime, basically whenever I feel a passion for it.
I also agree with another point made in the article: “We will still need teachers, but the skills necessary for success will be very different.” Like many workers who have been replaced with “automation” in past centuries, teachers have been concerned that this technology will make them redundant. Absolutely not. (I also absolutely would also not call a teacher a ‘worker.”) But here’s what can/will/should change, we no long need to be consumed with lecturing or delivering content over and over and over. Students can engage in a variety of ways with content at the speed and level they feel comfortable. They need the teacher to help them understand it and apply it. We will need to build deeper relationships with students. We will need to know even more about our subject matter and how “human beings” learn.
I know most “human beings” don’t care to deal with change, especially if it is uncomfortable. I am one of those, too, sometimes. But, to me, this all seems exciting. I would like to think that I am contributing to a passion for learning and not a custodial education. Am I just crazy?