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Posts Tagged ‘learning

The trigger for this reflection was a newspaper article that reported Singapore employers’ reactions to embed learners in workplaces for authentic experiences.

One employer, citing support from government subsidies, said this: “The subsidies can also go towards helping us to create self-learning tools such as online learning programmes”.

If you have a decent idea on how “online learning programmes” are practised in industry and even in higher education, you know that they are far from desirable or ideal.

I know because a significant amount of my work life revolved around online and e-learning. Heck, I was in charge of a centre for e-learning not too long ago.

I have seen more bad practices than good ones. When designing or assigning online learning, the worst ones were and still are:

  • Starting with a perspective that there is no difference between online teaching and online learning
  • Attempts to simply but unsuccessfully replicate face-to-face presence
  • Not blending and dedicating face time with co-learners and/or more knowledgeable others
  • Using online learning as a blunt tool to solve all ills
  • Not questioning the one-size-fits-all approach
  • Assuming a fire-and-forget mentality
  • Not connecting the online with the offline or larger purpose

The mistakes are repeated because people do not learn from them. Sometimes they do not learn from them because they do not think that they have made mistakes.

I have listed a few from a host of many mistakes. These are the sort of mistakes that are not worth making because they keep administrators and instructors thinking they have done their jobs while leaving learners frustrated.

The best video games are the ones that are driven by narrative. The stories are a product of the game designers, the players, or a combination of both.

Video source

The latest games seem to take on another dimension, that of cinematic yet personal narratives. These reel in players emotionally, provide elements of control, and give players a stake in the story.

Video game-based learning needs to have these same design elements. Drill-and-practice games and games tacked over traditional instruction typically do not leverage on these strategies.

If modern instructors want to be learner-centred, they must leverage on learners’ emotion and control so that they tell their own stories.

Today I deliver my talk at Bett 2015 on righting the wrongs of flipping. Not all the wrongs because there are way too many.

I focus on just three and these are the themes I shared on Twitter before I left Singapore.

    The tweets were a shorter version of what I need to say in less than 15 minutes after a more than 15-hour flight.

  • There is no point in flipping if teachers do not change their mindsets and practices.
  • It is not fair or logical to push kids into a curricular race they are not prepared for or do not need to run AND insist that they sacrifice their own time to keep running in.
  • Requiring learners to consume videos outside of class might just be changing the nature of homework instead of asking if homework is necessary and well-designed in the first place.

If I was allocated more time, we could explore how some teachers make the mistake of equating flipping only with video-based instruction, not focusing on better classroom interactions, or not actually changing anything by not requiring learners to create and teach.

Administrative tasks should support learning, not the other way around. That is the theory anyway.

We have administrative forms to fill largely because we have people we are accountable to. Hardly anything happens before real or electronic paperwork is completed first. There are big things like proposals, MOUs, and partnerships, and smaller things like permission slips, survey forms, and report cards.

But people whose job is to administer often lose sight of, or worse, are blind to what is important. The administration is meant to enable learning possibilities. Unfortunately, red tape often does the opposite.

Educators experience how IT infrastructure and policy dictate or limit use educational technology instead of enabling it. This could mean locking out devices, blocking websites, or otherwise preventing timely access.

As I do work in the background to make teacher education workshops to happen, I experience an assortment of administrative practices.

Some administrative tasks are easy to rationalize. I work with different agencies and need to get paid. So I jump through the hoops to make sure that happens in whatever system I am working with.

Some administrative tasks seem to be designed to confuse, delay, or obstruct. Others are blatantly childish, churlish, or calculative.

Like a child using a parent as a shield, some people hide behind policy or bureaucracy instead of focusing on needed change. Others ignore communication or fail to respond in a timely manner.

Still others try to get most bang for the buck to the detriment of their learners. For example, a potential partner might want to reduce the number of workshops needed or increase the number of attendees. These actions make sense if you only play the numbers game and ignore things like instructional design, modelled pedagogies, and learning experiences.

There are reasons for why there are six sessions and not four or why a workshop is for a classroom of learners instead of a lecture hall. I create experiences and I want participants; I do not do gatherings of attending zombies. I design time, space, and opportunities to optimize learning; I do not focus on a pay cheque.

Administrators is another group of people I need to educate. I can see why the administrative tasks need to be done. They must see why is it important to focus on the learner and learning.

An article in THE said that universities should dispel the illusion that PhDs have jobs for life.

Why do PhDs need to be told this?

Nowadays does anyone really expect to start and end with just one job?

There is no more iron rice bowl.

There are only opportunities that you find, niches that you carve, or doors that you open. All these happen only if you are prepared to keep on learning.

In this 2013 TED talk, this teacher shared three ways to initiate meaningful learning and to stop pseudo teaching.

Video source

Number one: Let curiosity drive learning. Not curricular demands, not technology, not even flipping.

Number two: Embrace the messy processes of learning.

Number three: Practice intense reflection.

Those were the Cliff notes. Watch the video to fill in the blanks. More importantly, listen to his stories that explain why he believes in these three ways.

Consider this question:

Here are some of my answers:

Because things have always been done that way.

Because we know no other way.

Because we think we know better.

Because you have to sit for tests that we put in your life that do not have much to do with your life.

These are very weak answers.

The tweeted question is a Googleable one and others have tried answering it in other ways. There are mathematical answers and classical logic answers.

But all those answers miss the point of the question. The point is critical perspective-taking.

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