How education is connected amazed me

I am very pleased to become a member of the GEDI learning community at my second year in graduate school. All the information we shared and the discussions in the classroom open my eyes to the current trend of higher education. The closely connected environment and accessibility of resources shock me as a young researcher.

I work in the Enology and Fermentation lab in Department of Food Science and Technology, analyzing the chemical component of  grape and apple juice, and of course wine and hard cider that everyone likes. My special interest falls into the health-beneficial compound group, the polyphenols. From my research world, the connection and accessibility are well demonstrated in a comprehensive database on polyphenol content in foods, called Phenol-Explorer. With this database, I am able to compare my results to other results of researchers around the world. All together, we are building the database with structures of the discoverd polyphenol structure and content in a variety of food by each individual effort. Until June this year, 500 different polyphenols are presented in the database as well as their over 35,000 content values  in more than 400 foods. All these information comes from more than 1,300 scientific publications. One single small brick does count in this magnificent structure!

I am taking GEOG 1024 World Regions by Professor John Boyer, the most popular class at Virginia Tech. What surprises me not only is his enthusiasm of teaching, but also his teaching philosophy of Accessibility and Relevance, and more surprisingly, the muilt-media platforms in this online course. We interact in Twitter, in the course management platform Moodle, and share information with iTunes, Youtube, and he holds office hours on Ustream. I even found his video courses translated into Chinese on Wangyi Open Course, a Chinese open course sharing platform. Just with a computer that connected into the Internet, a Chinese student who never come out of his or her village, and who cannot speak English, can explore the whole world with Professor Boyer on the other half of the planet!

I also would like to bring up a hot ongoing debate in China with the comparison of Chinese education style and British style. Five Chinese teachers from the best Chinese secondary schools were participated in an exchange program conducted by BBC, and they went to Bohunt School in Hampshire,  England and taught 15 students in 9th grade in Chinese teaching styles. Here is the documentary series, Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School. Because the whole world is connected, there is more need to open our mind, see different pedagogies around the world, and learn from each other.

I am looking forward to the new adventure with fellow GEDI knights this semester, and we, a strong team with a wide range of different backgrounds, will become more connected as the class discussions becoming deeper and deeper.




3 thoughts on “How education is connected amazed me”

  1. The connected aspect of learning that you brought up with the Phenol-Explorer database is something I really admire about our current position in our connected world. The ability to share scientific information to masses that usually wouldn’t have access is amazing and is something I think everyone should have the ability to do. Everyone should have the ability to learn. That being said, I would say these examples (scientific databases, creative college professors) are too few and far between. I also think there are certain subjects that fit this model of being open to everyone whereas others may not fit as well. For example, working in a laboratory will never be replaced with online teaching. There are certain hands-on experiences that need to be given in person and I find it hard to replace those with connected learning. That being said, watching videos of and interacting with people who do that work is really great and probably helpful for our learning, but in terms of replacing a previous method of in-class learning I just don’t see it happening. Anyway, great post! It definitely got me thinking.

  2. Connected learning does facilitate education in different ways. I personally like the concept of connected learning. However, whether to apply connected learning in a large scale should depend on the contents and the materials on the class. I don’t think basic science and common knowledge that serve as the foundation of advanced and applied science should be “connected” with real world things too much. Also, connected learning, as many other modern technologies, creates a certain type of inequality.

    I also notice that this inequality is manifested differently in U.S. and in China. In China, this inequality is not as much as this in U.S., which might be contradictory to many peoples’ thoughts. I’m looking forward to more discussion on connected learning in class.

  3. I believe you have made some really fascinating points. Not too many others would actually think about this the direction you just did. I am really impressed that there is so much about this subject that has been revealed and you made it so nicely, with so considerably class. Outstanding one, man! Very wonderful things right here.

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