A New Education Paradigm; how?

Certainly another fantastic video outlining examples of how and where the education system is lagging behind modern technology. The ideas Michael Wesch discusses are reasonable and the examples are very real, showing that a different kind of learning and problem solving can take place in the world.

I began writing this blog by asking, “How does this sort of change come about though? Who enacts it? Who maintains it? How do we convince the traditions of generations that their form of education is lacking?”. I stopped myself though, and immediately I thought back again to Sir Ken Robinson’s statement about how people are being taught to never be wrong; the stigmatised mistake.

Change happens now, and through experimentation. Yet again why I am much for Adrian’s approach to the Networked Media lecture; experimentation is key to progress in the field of education. I have met a fair share of frustration in others with these sort of methods though, and it’s made clear that a subsection of people still clutch to the traditional values of education; of authority and the information drip.

The further I engage with this class the more I’m thinking about the approach to education, and it’s something I find myself often considering. I know there is a better way and that’s mainly due to the fact of how bored I get during some classes or lectures. Call me conceited or even arrogant but if I’m finding something boring – someone who has a fairly disciplined mind – then how the hell are other people supposed to find it engaging?

I cringe to think of the costs spent on the two 300+ person lecture halls that RMIT paid for in Building 80 because at this rate lectures will quickly be shifted out of the way in lieu of other more progressive teaching methods (again, still not entirely clear what they might be). At least for the tim being I feel lecturers should have to undergo training to speak to a certain number of students at any one time because with the size of these auditoriums it’s more of a spectacle than education.

Because I am so gracious I’ll toss around some ideas to help save their investment into the several hundred seats they paid for. Firstly it’s important for the students to guide the conversation. Going back to Michael Wesch’s ideas a collaborative google document, or any similar kind of system, could work as a real time platform for discussion. Perhaps even twitter, and a unique hashtag per lecture (twitter is a magnificent platform to teach brevity in argumentative environments).

Already however I run into trouble. How then do we disseminate definitions and vital piece of information without simply throwing them at the students? Definitions are useful and generally universal – particularly in sciences and mathematics and the like – so we can’t exactly do away with them. I think they, at least, would have to remain but again the lecturer could do with putting a little pizazz into it. It’s undeniable that we attend more readily to, say, a comedian, or a showman than somebody who just talks at 100 people for an hour. Can we demand that of teachers? Must we redefine what a teacher is before we can move forward?

This is harder than I thought…I’ll be paying more attention to the form and style of lectures from now on to see if I can come up with ways to modify and improve the levels of engagement. SPeaking of engaging, maybe video games are the answer?

EDIT: How about we have students conduct lectures? Have students sit past the lecturer-student threshold? Crazy right!? Get them to sit on the floor or something. Have them do the teaching. De-centralise the lecture hall come classroom. I’ll suggest this in class today.

One comment to A New Education Paradigm; how?

  1. adrianmiles says:

    This was an idea I toyed with but should happen after a subject like this. on the other hand I know that 25% of students will complain, loudly, that they didn’t come to university to run the lectures themselves, that this isn’t real learning and so on. My personal view is you would generally achieve the most significant learning outcomes and advances in any subject you experienced if they became something like an unconference (look it up). Which is partly what’s informed my thinking.

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