Education And Our Natural Creativity with John Couch

TTL 270 | Education

Education And Our Natural Creativity with John Couch

Probably a survival technique that was so ingrained in us from our schools is to memorize. We are taught to memorize in order to have good grades. However, this hampers the overall learning of a student. John Couch explores on the subject of what’s wrong with education. John is one of the first few employees at Apple and was the Vice President of Software. When he retired in his 30s, he went on to revitalize a faith-based school in California. Soon after, Steve Jobs brought him back as the first VP of Education at Apple. John shares his journey and experiences as he gives great insights into how the way we’re educated has impacted us. He also shares some contents from his book, Rewiring Education, as he talks about the natural creativity we have as a child and the changes in the way we learn.

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TTL 250 | Continuing Education

How Not To Get A “Real” Job with Scott Gerber and Continuing Education with Dr. Brad Staats

Scott Gerber is the founder of YEC and the CEO of The Community Company, an organization that builds and manages communities for global brands and media companies. Believing in the power of becoming your own boss, he wrote the book Never Get a “Real” Job. He talks about what a “real job” is and gives tips on never getting it. He says you shouldn’t have to think of acquiring millions of dollars right off the bat but instead, just get in the game, have smaller goals, and move towards success in incremental stages.

 

Dr. Brad Staats is the author of Never Stop Learning. He writes about the importance of continuing education and discusses how the world, through technology, is readily feeding us information and answers. Dr. Staats reiterates the value of being constantly curious and fond for learning and gives advice on how to find the things we want to keep learning about.

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Advantages of Peer Interaction in Online Learning

One of the most important ways students learn in online courses is through peer-to-peer interaction.  In my experience with traditional classrooms, there were far more lectures and much student involvement.  The professors spoke “at us” in traditional courses. In online courses, there is more of a group discussion. Students receive the professor’s perspective as well as viewpoints from every student in the course.  In my opinion, this makes for a much more interesting and interactive classroom.

Not all students are fans of lecture-based learning.  MOOCs may experience high dropout rates due to their lecture-based format. According to the article MOOCs: Will Online Courses Help More Students Stay in School, “Critics of MOOCs are quick to point out their low completion rates (fewer than 7% of students complete the courses on average). They also note that the courses take the ineffective lecture format and make it the primary mode of learning.”

The types of online courses I have taught rely very little, if at all, on lectures.  The courses include more peer interaction and written assignments. The peer interaction revolves around discussion questions.  There are usually at least two discussion topics posted each week.  Students must respond to the initial question and respond to their peers’ postings as well.  This requires students to address the question, discover other students’ perspectives, and develop critical thinking skills.

Students’ responses to their peers must include substantive comments and well-constructed follow-up questions.  These questions often develop the conversation and create a dialogue.  Every student can see these discussions.  Every student can interject their comments.  It creates a pool of information that would not be provided to students in a lecture hall.  It allows for much more depth to the exploration of the topic.

In a traditional course, the professor may give their insight and opinions about a topic.  In an online course, this is possible as well. What is different is the amount of interaction required by the students.  Granted, things may have changed since I took traditional courses in the 80’s.  However, based on what I read and what I hear from my students, traditional college courses have not changed that much.  I believe that is why there is such an interest in MOOCs.  They add a new dimension that traditional courses have lacked.  However, MOOCs may not provide the peer interaction is the same way that regular online classes can.  The reason for this is due to the number of students in class.  MOOCs are massive.  Most online courses I teach include fewer than 20 students. When there are too many students, the discussions become overwhelming and no one takes the time to read all of the postings.

The best part of peer interaction is that students can learn from everyone’s experiences. Many online students have had decades of experience. This provides a wealth of knowledge that may be added to the professor’s perspective.  This allows everyone, including the professor, to garner important insight.

Related Articles:

How Online Learning Compares to Traditional . . . Continuing the Debate

The New York Times recently reported, “An analysis of 99 studies by the federal Department of Education concluded last year that online instruction, on average, was more effective than face-to-face learning by a modest amount.”

However, in this same article, they noted that not all results have shown this to be true.  Mark Rush of the University of Florida’s researched students who watched lectures online vs. traditional students who attended regular live in person lectures. Their study showed more online students let the lectures pile up and got behind.  To find out more about this study, check out the New York Times Article.  

While I find this to be an interesting study, almost none of the online classes I teach include recorded lectures.  Therefore I don’t find this data to be representative of the online experience that I have witnessed in my over 5 years of teaching for many different online universities.

Although many people find the lecture experience a big part of education, not everyone finds this to be the most effective way to learn.  When I attended a traditional college, I personally did not enjoy having to sit through long lectures.  Perhaps that is why I was drawn to online learning later. 

I am more inclined to look at the 99 studies from the Federal Department of Education than one study that looks specifically at how well students keep up with watching lectures in determining the effectiveness of online learning. I personally think that people are drawn to the type of education that fits their needs.  For those that enjoy long lectures, traditional universities may be the best optino for them. For those who don’t, online has a lot to offer.

For those considering taking an online education, check out:  The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Succcessful Online Student.

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How are Online Degrees Perceived

How Are Online Degrees Perceived?

I often get into Linkedin group discussions about the pros and cons of online learning.  I address it in depth in my book, The Online Student’s User Manual.  I thought eLearners.com had a pretty good article about the acceptance of online degrees.  To read the entire article click here.

 

In that article, hiring managers were asked how they felt about strictly online learning environments.  It was close to 50/50 in terms of whether they felt it was favorable or not.  The acceptance got better with the schools that had both regular classes and online classes offered. 

I have taken both traditional and online courses.  I personally prefer online learning.  I think it will become more and more the norm.  I feel I learned more and had a much better experience in my online business classes because I was not forced to be in as many group-related activities.  In my traditional university experience, I witnessed a lot of business majors getting their bachelor degree based on being in groups where they contributed nothing and got A’s because the rest of the group did the work. 

I think a lot of people are slow to accept technology because it is a big change. However, online learning is here and it is growing.  I work for many online universities where I see very strict guidelines enforced.  I have people monitoring my classes constantly.  I get feedback and direction to be sure I am staying on track and offering only the highest in quality education. 

Perhaps a lot of the perception is due to the profit or non-profit status of schools.  I think a lot is name recognition.  Big-named schools like Harvard now offer online courses.  To find out more about that program, click here. I think as more schools like Harvard add distance education, it will only improve the perception of online education.

Top 10 Free Online Courses

Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses  from GetEducated.com

via Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses | GetEducated.com.

Check out this article to find some great resources for online instructors including sites to teach best practices, developing course content, designing classes, tips on distance education, step-by-step training videos, links to sites like MERLOT which has vast resources for online instructors and of course a link to Sloan-C.

New Book Explains 10 Things Online Students Need To Know

Are you currently taking an online course or considering taking one? The Online Student’s User Manual provides some answers, other books about online learning have neglected. Even if you feel comfortable writing an essay or uploading documents, there is a lot more that you need to know to be a successful student. In the book, you will learn:

1. What you need to know about computer and software requirements

2. How to use the search engines

3. How to upload assignments

4. How to organize and manage your time

5. How to track and schedule your assignments

6. How to communicate to professors and fellow students

7. How to maximize your grade

8. What mistakes to avoid

9. How to create measurable goals and stay motivated

10. How to prepare for tests . . . and so much more

Online is the future of education. If you or someone you know is considering taking an online course, The Online Student’s User Manual provides the answers needed for success.  If you are interested in receiving a free newsletter with tips and suggestions from the book, click here.

Learning Styles and Personality Tests

       LEARNING STYLES AND PERSONALITY TESTS

Understanding personality preferences and learning styles has always interested me. My daughter, Toni Rothpletz, and I wrote about personality assessments in our book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality.  However, in that book, we discussed more personality-related tests rather than learning style tests.  In my book for online students, I do discuss styles of learning to some extent.  Here are just a few of the learning style sites that you might find interesting to see where you fit with your learning preferences:

OVERVIEW OF LEARNING STYLES:

The site http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/ offers a nice overview of their breakdown of learning styles including:

VARK:  (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic)

I currently teach for several online universities where they administer different personality and learning style tests.  One of those tests is the VARK questionnaire.  The creators of VARK claim “This questionnaire is designed to tell you something about your preferences for the way you work with information.”  This test is copyrighted. To receive information about it, you can email flemingn@ihug.co.nz.  The results of this test suggest that you adjust your studying to be more like your style.  These styles include:

  • Visual
  • Aural
  • Read/Write
  • Kinesthetic

KOLB’s Experiential Learning Theory ELT

Another important learning styles test is David Kolb’s KOLB  Learning Style.  Kolb also 4 styles or preferences.  They base these preferences on a four-stage learning cycle.  These four stages include:

Stage 1: Concrete Experience (CE)

Stage 2: Reflective Observation (RO)

Stage 3: Abstract Conceptualization (AC)

Stage 4: Active Experimentation (AE)

There are two levels to this model . . .after going through the above stages of experience, reflection, conceptualization and experimentation, there are four styles of learning that a person may prefer:

  • Diverging (CE/RO) – ability to see things from different perspectives – like brainstorming, interested in people and work well in groups.
  • Assimilating (AC/RO) – logical, like concepts – like clear explanations, do well in science-related careers.
  • Converging (AC/AE) – problem solvers – practical – like technical tasks, do well in technology-related careers.
  • Accommodating (CE/AE) – hands-on person, likes a good challenge – rely on gut instinct, do well in teams requiring action.

To find out more about KOLB learning styles click here.

To learn more about learning styles for the online student, check out The Online Student’s User Manual .  To learn more about personality styles and understanding personality assessments check out It’s Not You It’s Your Personality.