teaching

Higher Education?

“It’s like higher education has discovered the megachurch”  

It's fascinating to watch higher education go through some of the same dilemmas that content publishers (of all sorts of content - from the written word to music) have endured.

A great article on the topic.

Will the Amhersts of the education world be like the indie magazines? What will all this do to higher education marketing? Will the drop out rates for MOOCs turn into pressure to be entertaining? Will this affect the content conveyed? Will teachers then become the next rockstars (ala Korea)? And if so, how will the effective be distinguished from the entertaining?

And what is education anyway? Does education imply learning? Or rather a facility with learned skills?

What I See

Pulling some of my thoughts together. What I see:

1. The 18 to 25 year-old set. These folks have to either know immediately that they want to be nurses (good economic choice, btw) or auto mechanics (ditto) OR they have to have the grades, focus and resources to go the Stanfords/Dartmouths/Yales of the world. There is a huge gap in the middle that is filled mainly with state schools, online universities (univ of phoenix) or community colleges. All are more and more expensive and often quite directionless.

2. The lack of high school counselors and good ones at that

3. The boom in career/life coaches

4. Reality TV and interactive TV (see Bravo Channel) as a distribution model; it’s still super hard to get anything to scale in the online world

5. The more and more entrepreneurial world – meaning because there are no IBMs anymore, people, in order to survive, have to become entrepreneurs – approach their lives like running a business

6. Self-awareness or lack thereof and the lack of these skills in young people – you seem to learn only if you’re lucky; no educational focus or system around it: Who am I? What am I good at? What can I do with that?

7. Life long learning – how education or taking a class can be viewed as a way into self-awareness and personal growth (even if the class isn’t about self-development)

8. Good teachers – there’s a trend online where more are being highlighted – see MIT Open Courseware Initiative

9. What we say about ourselves implicitly and explicitly – the beauty of online is mostly in the data; a way to use that data in a valuable way to the provider of the data, the consumer

10. Learning on the job – there are teaching hospitals, why not teaching businesses? Educational co-ops

This all amounts to something. I'm working through what.

How to Learn

We've always been responsible for our own learning, but these days it seems we're doing more of it on our own. Here are some tips for learning.

1. Get out of your comfort zone; the harder we have to work to learn something, the less likely we are to forget it

2. Don't just write notes when listening to a lecture or reading; recall the information and comment or paraphrase

3. Test yourself; by testing yourself you not only test what you learn but make the information easier to remember

4. If you study something twice, the longer you wait between study sessions the better your recall

5. Switch up where you study

6. Study across concepts - go back and forth between concepts you are trying to learning as opposed to one at a time

Floundering

Floundering can be good for you. Anne Murphy Paul in her article for Time summarizes: "Call it the 'learning paradox': the more you struggle and even fail while you’re trying to master new information, the better you’re likely to recall and apply that information later."

The work of researcher Manu Kapur is behind this insight. But he warns teachers they want to challenge their students, not frustrate them when encouraging students to spend time trying to figure out a problem on their own first.

The Gap

The gap. Not the retailer - the economic one. It's getting bigger and the 18 to 25 year-old set, in particular, seem stuck in its midst. These folks have to either know immediately that they want to be nurses (good economic choice, btw) or auto mechanics (ditto) OR they have to have the grades, focus and resources to go the Stanfords/Dartmouths/Yales of the world. There is a huge gap in the middle that is filled mainly with state schools, online universities with brands employers discount or community colleges. All the options are more and more expensive and often quite directionless.

Is the solution a return to apprenticeships? A gap year where students hone their interests to ensure a better path selection?

Or will the solution be left to philanthropy because the money is in private universities with foreign students that foot the bill?

Character

What makes up character? A great NYTimes article follows two school directors - one from KIPP academy and the other from a private school - trying to define and teach it. They begin, with the help of Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, by defining it.

Initially they define character as being made up of 24 traits, including: bravery, citizenship, fairness, wisdom, integrity, love, humor, zest, appreciation of beauty; social intelligence (the ability to recognize interpersonal dynamics and adapt quickly to different social situations), kindness, self-regulation, and gratitude.

They found the list too unwieldy and pared it down to: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. They also discovered that students that possessed these traits did well in life - as opposed to just well on tests.

Interestingly, the article hints at how to build character - teaching cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) concepts. Finally! It would be great if more people were exposed to CBT.