I will be posting a series in three Parts – on Engagement, Sharing and learning in Times of Abundance.
How to engage with students, both millennial and adult students?
Here is an interesting post on The Five R’s of Engaging Millennial Students.
The five Rs are
1. Research-based methods
How far are these 5 Rs useful in the instructional design? I reckon that there are huge assumptions here, and so the context and cultural backgrounds of millennial students would need to be taken into consideration. On the other hand, if I were to re-word the opposite of the 5 Rs, then most likely they would be the “failure factors” in the instructional design and implementation of a course.
1. Methods not based on research methods. The methods could include a traditional text book search for “factual information”, without critically examining what has been written by the author, and the context where the content was written. Worse still, every students would be expected to rote learn the content, and regurgitate what has been “learnt” in the examination questions. Would this sort of instructional design and course delivery be effective? You could judge it.
How about story telling in online instruction? Do they need to be based on research? There are a lot of fictitious stories, based on creativity and imagination, and so they could go far beyond what traditional teaching could do. Virtual learning in Second Life is a typical example. Though there are researches done appraising the usefulness of Second Life, do we know enough if the learning there are based on “factual information” or are actually based on academic discourse?
2. Irrelevant content. How about having a course of content which is as diverse as possible from the course content? Do the students really need relevant content all the time? Why? They could just Google the topic, and learn what they want, that is RELEVANT to them, but not necessarily relevant to the course. So, how to ensure that the content is relevant to the learners’ needs? Is the content relevant to the current needs of business, or society?
3. Irrational – Are human rational? Yes, we need to make human rational, in order to have a civic society. Critical thinking is the key, and every learning must be logically, structurally set up. But, is learning chaotic, complex and thus irrational when surfing along the web? Take a look at the hyperlinks, where would they lead learners to? Are the millennial students having a long attention span, and a focus on a problem or project all the time? No? If that is the case, then try something creative, stimulating that would align with their curiosity to learn, guide and support them to become independent critical thinkers and creative learners.
4. Tense learning – learning should be based on assessment, right? Test, test, and test. Isn’t that the purpose of education? No!
5. Failure in building rapport – Use machine learning, artificial intelligence to replace human learning. So, why border to have human teaching human. Is rapport still important, if a student could sit in front of a computer and learn all what is needed for the tasks himself. The students may build up rapport with the machine, artificial networks. Why/Why not? Students are relational. But some students would prefer to learn more independently, or in solitude. See this post relating to machine learning, and how Khan Academy has addressed machine learning and assessment (David Hu).
The above are just some of the seemingly counter-arguments of engaging, but aren’t they the real issues and challenges when engaging with millennial students. There are lots of myths here, where research in engagement could offer a glimpse of what keeps students engaged.
There is another dimension relating to sharing or not sharing, where Jenny mentions in her post on the tyranny of sharing.
Erik’s described how his students are required to comment on each other’s blogs – to be ‘open’, ‘to share’. His approach is – ‘if you can’t /won’t agree to this, then don’t sign up for my course. Evidently, this is what learning in times of abundance means. But not for me “
Should one share and to be open? In my previous post on openness, I said: “It is a personal choice, and although I am in favor of openness, I could understand that openness is not viewed as a nominal practice for many professions. This is especially so, for certain professions like medical profession, where duty of care, professional accountability and responsibility comes before any disclosure of incidents or experience that relate to patients or medical care. “
I think I would share and be open in a public space in a way that suits me, first, in terms of personal learning. I don’t think I would submit to sharing and being open by “coercion”, or imposition by authority or power, as I don’t see such sharing and openness is really “genuine sharing” or ” genuine open”.
To me, that sounds like manipulation, and although I would not mind manipulating objects, but I don’t think it is within my integrity to manipulate human, unless it is performed under a psychological experiment. But is it ethical?
I also write from my hearts and mind about what really matters to me in my learning through blogs and posting, rather than sharing my thoughts in order to comply with others’ requirements (especially in my blog here), or to patronise in order to attract readers to read my blog. I share because I think, therefore I am. I also enjoy the butterfly dream. I consider these as the philosophy of learning and education.
To this end, what is the purpose of education?
“Change may appear to be unnecessarily risky, but universities need to maintain a certain anxiety or uneasiness regarding whether or not their programs are continuing to meet their responsibilities in education and scholarship.”
Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame – Socrates.
The purpose of engaging and sharing is then to kindle a flame, not to fill a vessel. However, one must also understand that openness in education is still a huge challenge to educators and learners, and that not everyone is ready to be that “open” – to sharing, to engage with others in the virtual networks.