#PLENK2010 Learners’ needs

Love what Jenny said here, the needs of learners come first.  Once there was an interesting motto: Customers are always right – they are the kings and queens, without them, the business won’t survive.  Sounds true.

Whenever I posted such a motto to my students, they would be excited to debate.  So, if I were to re-phrase it in education: Are learners always right?  At least about their needs.  Are learners’ right under the perception of educators?

Could we fulfill our learners’ needs?  If yes, they would be satisfied and happy. If not, why not, and how could we help and support them to fulfil their dreams (as peer learners or educators)?

Would that be one of the keys to success in MOOC? Where many of our needs are so much different, how could we have some connective needs?  Are we trying to satisfy each other, apart from ourselves?

Which of the following designs suit our learners?

Photos: From Flickr

Rita in her post: Socratic questioning or connectist participation in an information stream says:

She (Maria) would like learning button where people could go to for answers to Socratic questions about a certain topic. Of course first a great number of people should be willing to ask the questions, but if enough people engage in it, a world of questions would be out there related to the interests of many people. She sees intrinsic motivation as the major driver to learning and envisages learners to want to engage to satisfy their natural curiosity. You can find a paper in which she elaborates on it here.

My guess is that connectivists will find the questioning too structured as people would not be in control of their own learning, and won’t be actively engaged in producing artifacts. But if the pool of questions would be large enough in the fashion similar to the development of the wikipedia, and  reach a tipping point, the thing would start to lead a life of its own,  people would like to get involved and people would be able to see it as a bit of fun, some intellectual sparring.

I think it depends on the learners’ needs rather than the educators’ needs. However, educators’ needs are important too, as they could play an important role in inspiring their peer educators and fellow learners.

First, such way of questioning is already a way of teaching for decades, under the didactic teaching pedagogy.  Are the learners engaged in the teaching process? Again it depends on the questions posted, whether they are relevant to the learners’ needs.

May be if the process of inquiry and Socratic questioning  is built around learners’ needs (curiosity), then it could reach a “critical mass” of knowledge “creation” or curation as suggested by Rita.

Second, this quora could be the platform that would allow such Socratic questioning and “peer learning and sharing” to occur and develop in social and educational networks and media.  These may be competing with Twitter and Facebook in the microblogging and questioning.

May be it’s still too early to know if it would develop into the sort of wikipedia that is popular.

I could see the interesting collaboration happening in the blogosphere and forum, and that may be the start of connection, conversation, and interaction.  Or this may be the start of revolution around education, where everyone is looking for their voices to be heard and needs be met 🙂


Postscript: Interesting to read Jenny’s post on the place of content in teaching and learning.  I think some content knowledge is still important in the early stages of learning, like that of the building of a house, which forms the foundation of knowledge.  However, higher order learning (or deep learning) goes far beyond the content, and that requires a deep reflection on the metacognition, and a balance between connection with tools and artifacts (for information and knowledge creation) and continuous reflection on critical literacies and critical thinking, that would enhance ones learning (learning to be).


4 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Learners’ needs

  1. Hi John,
    I really enjoyed reading this entry for a variety of reasons. First of all, I can see that you actually care about whether people get the support they need. I watch my four year old grandson often. He needs to be watched carefully because he is young, fearless, and full of energetic joy. The learner needs to be protected from danger…. I notice that he seldom asks questions, he watches, explores, and tries things out. He is very good at figuring things out. When I could not figure out how to operate the dvd player and the remote last weekend, he was all too eager to show me. I know that he is not allowed to touch the tools yet, but he really showed me how to go about the process of solving the problem. He was pressing those buttons and pointing that remote at the dvd player…. No questions. No comments. A lot of demonstrations. And wow! I finally figured out which buttons to push and we watched a great animated film, “Castle in the Sky,” you should check it out. I think you would enjoy it!
    My rule of thumb is ‘follow the learner…’
    A few weeks ago, Stephen Downes used a metaphor to describe how he learns. He said that he likens learning to going to visit a foreign city. He has identified some of the places he wants to visit, and he sets out for his destination. He uses a problem-solving approach to find his way to his destination and all along the way he learns things. When I go to visit a city in another country, I buy bus pass that is good for a week, and I get on the bus and ride it from one end of the line to the other, then I get on another bus and ride from one end of the line to another. I like to get my bearings in the safety of the bus, and along the way, I discover the monuments, the sites of interest, the markets are, where the people work. I then buy a map, I walk, and I continue to learn some more. Every learner has a unique approach. I think Maslow had it right, All learners have basic needs for food, shelter and safety, belonging, self/social-understanding and esteem, and our peak experiences occur when we feel… that those needs are met…
    I have to rake the leaves before the sun sets. Later..

  2. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for sharing such a lovely reflection. Your grandson is very smart, showing you how to operate a DVD player at the age of four. Yes, demonstration tells it all. And the kids need our care and protection.
    I resonate with what you and Stephen had experienced, especially in travelling. I like exploration and adventures too. Back in 1988, when I was attending a group training (for 3 months) in Japan, I took the train during weekends from one terminal to the other, like what you did. So, learning could be exciting and experiential with travelling and exploration to foreign places. There is a Chinese Motto: “One learns better through travelling (by walk in ancient Chine) ten thousand miles than reading ten thousand books”, and I think it makes sense to me. We could learn better through understanding and appreciating other cultures, by observation, interaction, and actually visiting the place.
    The needs you mentioned under Maslow – with self-esteem (ego) and self-actualisation being the highest in the hierarchy is still relevant. I just wonder how our needs of being more creative and connective be fulfilled with the virtual networks.
    Talk to later, when you have raked the leaves…. 🙂

  3. Pingback: #PLENK2010 Motivation and Needs Hierarchy | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

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