Consider the educational aftermath of a school year. You are left with your grades, a slew of graded assignments, notes, textbooks, and the fading memories of what you learned in class. It is the final item on this list — the fading memories (the fading learning) that is probably the greatest failure of how schools implement learning today.
Why is this? Well, you might say, when a class is over, it’s over. Why should you have anything more than what you took away from the class? Indeed, this is the status quo, business as usual, view of learning. You learn content during a defined period of time- typically a few days to a few months- and move on. However, we now know, thanks to numerous scientific studies, that drinking from the firehose of knowledge is simply not the most effective way of getting students to ingest and internalize learning. Smaller bits, ingested over time, and revisited on occasion are much better at making learning stick.drinking from the firehose of knowledge is simply not the most effective way of getting students to ingest and internalize learning Click To Tweet
Student ownership of course materials will improve learning.
I would like to suggest a different paradigm. I suggest that a student should own not only the debris of a learning engagement, but the whole learning experience. While we could still have students engage in short term, intensive learning during structured classes, there should be a way for the student to revisit the lectures, the quizzes and tests anytime they wished to do so. We now know that repetition is key to long term learning, and on demand access would enable students to do this as long as they need to. Effectively, the class should be over when the student decides it is.A student should own not only the debris of a learning engagement, but the whole learning experience. Click To Tweet
The future is already here and displacing traditional learning models.
Impossible, you might think, how do you keep a class going beyond the boundaries of a quarter, semester or school year? There are only so many teachers and each teacher only has so much time. Yet this ‘new’ model of learning is already being implemented thanks to the abilities of modern technology to provide an on demand learning experience. Consider the explosion of online educational fora such as MOOCs and other online learning opportunities such as webinars, meetups and hangouts. Explore khanacademy.org (K-12) or coursera.org (college level) as a couple of leading edge example.
Thanks to technology, there is a growing ability for students to return to the actual presentations of a class— the glue that holds the content of textbooks, notes and a students recollections together. In some cases even test, labs, and instructors can be revisited. The ability to recreate or revisit the learning experience of a course is incredibly valuable in being able to build long term learning and is being sadly underutilized.
The technology is available. What is still missing in most cases is the pervasive will to make this sort of learning available to students. Clearly there are some pioneering teachers and institutions that have been going in this direction since the internet was available. What we now need is to see this not as a novelty, but as the new status quo of education.
John Starmer, Director of Education @john_starmer