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Empowering the Student

I feel very strongly that learning should be much more bottom-up than top-down. Now that information is so widely available and easily shared, students should be empowered to make more choices about what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, including from each other.

Steve Hargadon had an interesting blog post earlier this month about Web 2.0 and how it’s the future of education. He makes some great points and here are clips from some of my favorite:

“Trend #4: The New Pro-sumers. The word “pro-sumer” is a combination of the words “producer” and “consumer.” More and more companies are engaging their customers in the creation of the product they sell them. The nature not just of how knowledge is acquired, but how it is produced, is changing”

Absolutely agree here. Who is better at describing what they need from a product than the consumer? What we’re seeing now with technology is one step further. The consumers are not only providing input, but they’re often creating the product. Check out this vocabulary game our members started on their own. It’s such a simple concept but it works so well and is one of the most popular threads on our site.

Trend #7: The World Gets Even Flatter and Faster. Yes, and even if that “flat” world is “spiky” or “wrinkled,” it’s still getting pretty darn flat. That anyone, anywhere in the world, can study using over the material from over 1800 open courses at MIT is astounding, and it’s only the start.”

Right on. That someone in Zimbabwe can easily ask for English advice and become friends with someone in China is absolutely amazing.

Trend #8: Social Learning Moves Toward Center Stage. …JSB discusses a study that showed that one of the strongest determinants of success in higher education is the ability to form or participate in study groups. In the video of his lecture he makes the point that study groups using electronic methods have almost the exact same results as physical study groups. The conclusion is somewhat stunning–electronic collaborative study technologies = success?”

The best teachers I had in school were the ones who naturally led us to learn from and share information with each other. The teachers I learned the least from were those who pushed information down to us and asked for regurgitation at test time. Students want to actively learn. Just take a look at one of our recent lessons where we brought up the topic of taking time off before college. We produced one page on the subject, then our members created 9 more.

Technology has been influencing education for years. But now it’s doing so at a faster pace than ever seen before, mostly because students are finally getting a voice.

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