Mindful Learning and the Role of Higher Education
The readings about mindful learning reminded me of a class that I took for learning building simulation software. In that class, I learned different kinds of simulation programs which were recently released. Since they were in a new area and many new simulation programs had released every year, the instructor of the class was not knowledgeable about all the programs that we had to learn. He talked about this situation on the first day of the class and emphasized that our class would be a collective learning session rather than a lecture, and he would be learning the programs with us as well.
As the instructor explained, the class did not have much lecture time, and the instructor’s role was more like a coordinator. The assignments were self-learning the software by using the tutorials given by the instructor, and solve the given problem utilizing the self-learned simulation tool. During the class time, students had discussions about useful functions of the software sharing each other’s simulation results. The hour-long discussions made me feel studying at an ancient Greek institution. The paintings that describe the institutions, such as the School of Athens or Aristotle’s School, have different scenes from the classrooms of today, in which students always have discussions.
Aristotle’s School (source: Wikipedia)
Although I learned a lot from this class that was enjoyable as well, this experience made me question the role of higher education. Today, the development of online communication has facilitated learning a new subject. Questions raised during the learning can be easily addressed in online forums, which also offers similar types of experience to the discussions we have during the class. It seems that taking a class or the presence of an instructor will not be mandatory anymore for learning something. Then, what would be the role of higher education in the future? Would that be guidance on learning, filtering knowledge among the excessive information on the web? Or offering an on-site platform for better discussion, motivation, networking, and certification, like a part of the actual roles? How would the future of higher education be changed?
September 18, 2017 @ 5:06 pm
Such great questions to pose. Your post made me wonder if there is a difference between the intake and retention of material in the traditional college setting vs. online education setting. They’re both education, but does going at your own pace/a lot of self-teaching have more pros than traditional in-person lectures? I’m not sure. I’d be interested to hear about it.
Then again, maybe it all goes back to a person’s preferred method of learning. My brother does all of his classes via online courses and forums; I think he likes it better than the traditional method. He’s able to engage with people online, people that he otherwise might not engage with in the classroom. I wonder though if what he truly learns and remembers might be more because he’s learning in an environment that is more conducive to him.
September 19, 2017 @ 1:54 am
Your experience in that class sounds like an ideal classroom. Where the teacher and students are both learning and contributing to the knowledge gained. A classroom where each individual may contribute to the learning outcomes and no one person is the holder of all the knowledge or a gatekeeper of said information. Hopefully, technology will make classroom environments like the one you described a reality instead of an option that is never practiced or encouraged.
September 20, 2017 @ 1:44 am
I agree with Rudi — that experience sounds like an ideal class. Connected, networked and learner-centered. Wow.
September 20, 2017 @ 5:10 pm
I see your point, and I often think about what the future of higher education will look like due to the fixation we have on incorporating digital media and making everything so accessible online. But I think there’s something intangible and difficult to describe that happens when people join together in person and have face-to-face discussions, that is inherently lacking when we sit behind our laptops and communicate electronically. I think of this as a collective creativity or discourse that in combination exceeds the sum of its parts. When we move this experience to an online platform to enhance accessibility and ease of use, we also lose some of that creativity and discourse. To me, that’s a trade-off that really isn’t worth adopting the convenience of the internet.
But as others have commented, this may differ from person to person. For some, electronic communication is more conducive to their learning, I’m sure. And this may also differ from topic to topic.
September 20, 2017 @ 9:30 pm
Most of the class in art and design is like the class you describe. We have the short lecture every two or three weeks. But we have a tutorial in every class with professor to show the process of the works. During the first semester, the professor will show the study plan and highlight the projects we need to follow. Then the task for us is focused on our projects. We will teach the basic skills of the program and discuss with the professor. The professor will highlight the comments on the direction section. It is the typical learning model in the art and design studio class.
September 30, 2017 @ 8:53 pm
Instructions were the way for you to master the skills required for the class. It’s really important that they are clear and easy to follow so you can self learn the skills.