A Modest Proposal

“Let the student control the sequence, put him in control of interesting and clear material, and make him feel good – comfortable, interested, and autonomous.”  – Theodor H. Nelson



I think this can/should be the future of education – with the assistance of ICT.  Most (if not all) of the professor’s knowledge is available from other sources and in different modes.  These include excerpts from text books, articles, web pages, videos, other instructor’s materials, etc.  Why not conduct class sessions that are scavenger hunts for information about topics or the topics themselves?  Students can be responsible for finding images, presentations, blog entries, research, etc. on concepts that then need to be stitched together in meaningful ways.  Isn’t this what the instructor does?  And doesn’t the instructor learn from the experience?  I know that I’ve had this experience time and again.  No better way to learn something than to be charged with helping someone else undertsand it.  Instructors already create learning environments to do this, but what then is the role of the instructor?  Tour guide?  However, tour guides have predefined paths or tours – so what if the tourists/students want to go off the path?  What if the tour guide/instructor does not have a prepared script to dexribe places encountered?  The instructor then becomes a tourist also, but hopefully with a bit more experience or wisdom to help navigate and avoid dead-ends.  This calls into question the traditional classroom role of the instructor as sage or guru for which they are compensated(?)  But we should encourage “personal learning networks” because they are a more natural way of learning.

Can this become a more accepted model in the future?  Students taking more self-guided tours without prescribed destinations?  Perhaps suitable for certain course types but not all.  How then do these experiences connect with professional expectations and career “needs”?  Maybe more creativity or just less understanding of the terrain?  I think we will find out.



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