By Araceli Gallego
Education needs a revolution but it is not that easy. The way we have been taught over the years as students and as educators makes the shift difficult, but slowly but surely education will get there.
Recent technological progress, for example, meant a quantum leap for many sectors, but in education there is still a limitation on how we learn.
Let’s take eBooks as an example. The fact of having almost unlimited amount of books in digital format, with easy access through a device, doesn’t mean that you are going to understand and process their contents. Actually, for non-digital natives, it is a struggle to start using certain technologies with ease. EBooks can, however, allow for notes to be taken and shared, so that further study or debate can happen outside the tablet.
Many years ago, I remember a futuristic scene in a movie, where you could learn about any subject or topic by inserting a chip. We are not computers- our brain is much more complex than any computer- but in that movie, learning was as easy as it could be. The reality is that learning as a process requires of interest and a level of effort, it is not something that you passively receive, it is something that you actively do.
This is the reason why technology can help you as much as you want it to. At the end of the day, it is a tool. Nowadays, universities and schools have social networks, management systems where all the members can interact and streamline workflows and processes. We have also full e-libraries, Wikipedia, internet, and all the common wisdom in magazines, blogs, websites, etc. Still today our dropout rates are extremely high.
Our young students are surrounded by so many distractions that it is difficult to keep the focus. The change needs to come by being able to engage them, keep them entertained and curious about things. There are some teachers that make classes more interactive, change the classroom setting, use blended methodology, where the students receive the content of the class online and in class they participate and do exercises to better learn what they have read previously.
Team based activities help not only to keep the focus but also to hone social skills and encourage students to have open minds to different perspectives. Case Studies and Gamification can make the learning process entertaining. Children don’t ever get tired of playing and if we make learning fun, we won’t get tired either.
The change needs to come by being able to engage them, keep them entertained and curious about things.
The key is to create new learning environments, away if necessary from traditional methods and assumptions, and see what really works. As an example, there is a study that, with the assistance of technology, measures how students perform, how long they take to respond to certain questions, if they changed their mind before submitting, and more, to provide a better feedback not only for the student but also to the teacher to correct or reinforce a certain part of the teachings. The benefit doesn’t stop there, as this very useful information is shared with the Course Design team to improve the contents or the way they are shared in future editions. These iterations, over and over, checking how the students react to them and how teachers improve, are sent to the Science of Learning Study, researching the very important topic of how we learn.
The key is to create new learning environments, away if necessary from traditional methods and assumptions, and see what really works.
It is true that for all this innovation in education to become a daily reality and not so much an exception or an experiment, teachers must be trained in the new methodologies and the institutions need to change their approach.
If you want to know more about how your school, college, or university can innovate, get in touch with us. We will check your current status and propose ways for you to reach and engage your students more actively.
StoneHill Education Team