The learning experience – especially in the context of formal education – has certainly evolved over the years. While I cannot directly quote literature right now, I have certainly heard stories from the “yesteryears,” stories shared by my parents, grandparents, and others in their respective generations, about the relationship between teacher and students. Nay, I would say that my early memories of education is that of being talked at by my teacher, and I attribute whatever knowledge that I eventually possess as things that I passively received from that sage-on-stage.
Advances in technology and telecommunications have made a lot of things possible. There is a wealth of information “out there” that is now more readily accessible. What I think this has meant for the learning process and the learner is that there is more opportunity to explore and independently embark on a quest for truth, in order to actively construct knowledge.
What this also means is that teaching has consequently evolved from delivering information and course content to facilitating the process where learners build knowledge for themselves. It is an interesting paradigm, one that may not necessarily be the norm for everybody at this time, but is certainly gaining traction in both basic and higher education. It is also certainly aligned with the “high-impact practices” promulgated by Kuh and referenced in Gardner Campbell’s article.
What I have come to realize is that when knowledge is actively constructed, through a variety of resources and media, it becomes a more engaging activity, a more holistic experience. And when the concept of learning moves from the rather uninvolved process of receiving and regurgitating information to that of living an experience and making memories, the knowledge that is built leaves a more lasting impact and is more meaningful. Nowadays, this can be done in a wide variety of ways; and with the internet bringing down barriers related to distance and time, there is no limit to the knowledge that one can build. There is also a great opportunity to share one’s intellectual work, and engage in discourse, even with people halfway across the world.
I guess the next question may be: as an educator, what can I do to maximize the opportunities that are made available to me? How can I make a difference?