For years, students have been classified according to their learning style: visual, tactile, linguistic, and so on. Educators can then focus on those strengths so that the educational experience is optimized for that learning style. And we often talk about how to best accommodate the learning styles of today’s Active Learner.
But truthfully, the characteristics of active learners are still more idealistic than realistic for many educators. Access to devices is still an issue in some areas, comfort-ability and familiarity with tools and technologies are lacking, and responsible use policies are not in place to enable learners to take charge of their education. Ultimately, these skills and opportunities will benefit active learner’s always-on always-connected mindset now and as they prepare for their careers, but why and how?
Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist recently contributed to The Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet” blog, mentioning the possibility that students are more successful in school when they’re motivated by cash, prizes or other tangible goods, rather than by learning for learning’s sake. Willingham points to a study by Freakonomic’s author Steven Levitt, which found that students did actually perform better with a payoff tied to good performance.
Mark Edmundson, a professor of English at University of Virginia, wrote an Op-Ed called, “The Trouble with Online Education,” which appeared in last week’s New York Times. Timing of the op-ed coincides with UVA’s recent announcement that they would be developing and offering online courses with Coursera. To boil down the article, Edmundson says he thinks of online education as a one size fits all experience, yet thinks of traditional learning experiences as that of a jazz composition. In response, Josh Kim published an open letter to Professor Edmundson exposing some of Professor Edmundson’s incorrect assumptions and confusion, which you can read here: An Open Letter to Professor Edmundson.
I was at a dinner party recently and the conversation turned to the ways we see teens and young adults using technology. A friend at the table said his son and friends used their devices during the Superbowl not to text, tweet, or chat, but to record their own audio commentary of the game while recording it. In essence, they used technology to capture their own personal experience of the game. Of course we know as “digital natives” these tools are seamless extensions to them, but I still get surprised at how differently and inventively a device can be embraced by this generation. So what does this mean for educators? A LOT.
The Future of Education Is Already Here
What would it be like to walk through an average college campus in the year 2017? It may be harder to imagine than you think. Look how far we have come in the last 5 years. In 2006, there were no iPhones, no Androids, no iPads, no Twitter, Facebook was a college-only experience, and social networking meant meeting at the fraternity house.
In 2003, Steve Jobs said on the launch of the iTunes store:
Will Apple’s launch of iBooks 2 on January 19, 2012 be the same inflection point for textbooks? Certainly only time will tell. So, as we play an active role in education changes that lie ahead and welcome Apple back to education conversation, let’s look back at the past…