What Is Learning?

Mind Map - What is Learning?

What is Learning?

Initially, brainstorming about learning conjured thoughts of past experiences and words I associated with learning, such as instructor, memorization, tests, and repetition. Education has historically been viewed as a passive exercise, especially with respect to the student’s role in the classroom. In the “traditional” classroom there is one teacher and several students – all sitting in one direction, opposite the teacher. The students sit quietly, attentively, absorbing as much information as possible, taking notes and trying hard to decipher what will be on the next test?

More recently, there seems to be a growing appreciation for collaborative learning. Working in groups, be it small or large, in person or online, collaboration is the most “natural” approach to learning.

The internet and other technologies make it simple to find solutions to a multitude of queries, today it almost seems frivolous to spend so much time memorizing facts, rules, and theories. The concept of teaching students where to find answers and how to utilize technology appears to be an effective approach to learning. Teach students how to learn. When students understand how to learn, establish strong communication skills, value collaboration, and have the ability think constructively, they will be prepared to be life-long learners.

As this class comes to an end I find myself reflecting back on how much my views of education have changed since I started. Prior to this class, I had a hard time conceiving anything different than what I had experienced. Over the last many weeks I have learned that there are several factors impacting the future of education, such as technology, economics and demographics. I have also learned that futuring techniques can be used to guide the direction of education and inspire innovative change. I am excited about the future of education because there are better, more effective means in which a student can learn. Our current education system has come to a virtual crossroads. Now is time for change, and the changes will need to keep coming, as nothing in life is constant. Let us create a new “road” so that future generations will be prepared for what lies ahead.

A Futurist Vision of Metro Area Technical College’s Dental Hygiene Clinic

One of the most interesting concepts I recall from this class for me was visualizing our current education system like a conveyor belt as it was shown in Sir Kenneth Robinson’s depiction. It challenged me to think of how education could and probably should be different than what it is. Grouping students together by age and assuming that one student will learn this-or-that at such-and-such age is a pretty ridiculous thought when you really think about it. I love the idea of individual learning paths using a personalized approach. As society moves toward this concept and away from the “one-size-fits-all” approach – how are we going to achieve that? I hope that it will happen. From my personal experience in the public education system, I can recall times when I have fallen behind or struggled because I had not understood a previously “learned” concept – but the class continued to progress…with or without me!

The course materials and subject matter discussed in this class changed my perspective about education in many ways. My thoughts were clarified by the readings and videos and provided context to what were previously ill-defined ideas and assumptions. Several of my classmates’ discussion board posts provided explanations and rationales behind some of the complexities in our current education system. These posts also created an awareness of a variety of topics related to unmet needs for both educators and students.

A Futurist Vision of Metro Technical College's Dental Hygiene Program

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