Is this post on re-thinking traditional course structure- actually going to class challenging enough?
In an era when students can easily grab material online, including lectures by gifted speakers in every field, a learning environment that avoids courses completely—or seriously reshapes them—might produce a very effective new form of college.
Sounds convincing, but here we seem to focus again on lectures by gifted speakers in every field, and might have assumed that these students still like to attend lectures to learn. Why would students attend such lectures? What are the assumptions behind these – that students have lost interests in attending lectures in their institutions?
Are there other avenues of learning that might provide an equally effective learning environment? How about on-the-job learning and training? In Australia, we have been using such ways of learning and training for the last decade. There is no need for a formal lecture, a formal classroom, and learning could take place on the job, with authentic learning experiences. The educator could be the supervisor, the trainer, the teacher, professor, or the mentor, who may be part of the learning team to support the learner. Instead of lectures, there could be training discussion session, small groups discussion in a work setting, or one-on-one mentoring and assessment session. This, together with online learning support may provide a far better outcome than the traditional course lecture, especially when the target learners are adult learners, working in businesses or organisations.
For young university students, the use of internship, on-the-job placement or simulated learning environment could be used as an augmentation to the formal lectures. Besides, the use of PLE and Web 2.0 could surely benefit the students by opening more opportunities for them to practice their social networking and learning skills, by actually immersing into the social media, and experiencing the virtual social life, on top of the face-to-face social interaction.
Some universities have gone even further to challenge the course model. At Worcester Polytechnic Institute, administrators run seven-week immersion projects with no lecture component, in which students work in teams on projects that benefit nonprofit organizations. Mr. Bass, of Georgetown, describes that as a harbinger of things to come.
If the core activity at college shifts away from the classroom and into practical activities, do students even need to come to a campus? re-thinking traditional course structure- actually going to class
So, instead of having mass-lectures, all packed with hundreds of university students, it may be worthwhile to re-consider using technology and media and some of the on-the-job training to stimulate the interests of students.
When I was attending my polytechnic university, I spent half-a year in the workshop as part of the formal engineering training. There were only short instruction sessions given by the instructors, and as a student I spent most of the time working on assignments and projects in a factory workshop environment (which has exactly the same environment as that of a factory). The work provides the learning platform. Work becomes learning.
How about the educators?
So, is there still a need for educators in schools and universities?
It is imperative however to note that the role of educators (professors) here might have changed from being a lecturer or professor (giving lectures only) to one who actively plans and provides new and novel learning environment that could cater for the changing needs of students. This requires a totally different mindsets amongst the professors which involves a paradigm shift from teaching to one focusing on learning – where learning becomes the spotlight. The educator may need to be aware that he or she is there to support the learners, making learning easier if ever possible, though challenging the learners to raise their potential at their best. This means the educator has to play out multiple roles throughout their teaching and learning journey with their learners.
What are the other ways of learning? We have e-learning as highlighted here as a means to support workforce development.
How about this presentation by Zaid?
Or the MOOC, which provides a rich opportunity in connecting and networking with global networks, professors, educators and learners.
There are many benefits in having university courses, and so is the need for teachers and professors to support learning within those courses.
What about education then?
Do you think we should keep the traditional course structure? Why/Why not?
How about the roles of educators? What are the implications of such changes in the course structures for educators?
Postscript: This post on if something is shared do you value sounds interesting