Thursday, August 30, 2007

96 How to create the best learning environment?

Message no. 96 Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Thursday, January 25, 2007 9:57pm Subject: How to create the best learning environment?

Hello crew, this is your cap'n speaking.

I've been reading your "getting to know you" discussions with much interest, and am delighted by the depth of your sharing. We begin to get a much better sense of the social environment in which we are operating. I see the courage and determination of so many of you, whether in your second, third, fourth or fifth decade of life, and get a better sense of what makes you the pioneers of on-line education.

Since there is intimate feedback between the consumer and the producer in an information economy, and so much of the supply side of the market is now "demand driven" (these are neo-classical economic terms...) we are, as Alvin Toffler pointed out years ago (Future Shock, The Third Wave, Power Shift) entering the age of "The Pro-Sumer" -- a producer-consumer rolled into one.

This gives you power. The power to determine the course of the ship we call society.

So now let us ask -- how can the learning environment be tailored to suit individual needs? Many of you have multiple offspring, multiple jobs, multiple demands made on you all the time. You must juggle home and hearth and job and family and education. Is there a way to make the "burden" of getting an education (that coveted degree!) more of a "value added experience"?

Many of you have expressed that your kids or other family members are jumping into this computer-assisted virtual world of text, voice, pictures, music, video and 3d gaming. Some have expressed concern over where it is going and how it will affect them.

Is there a way to get them involved in your education? Is there a way to turn on-line learning into a shared family activity so that it does not take away from your family time, but enhances it?

Since kids generally seem to pick up these new media faster than those of us who have so much to UNLEARN before we can rewire our brains, can we delegate tasks in this course and delegate assignments so that our kids can work with us? Could kids (or younger siblings or friends) be fruitfully engaged taking photographs, hunting for maps, making videos, searching for information, exploring environments, uploading and downloading files and making file conversions?

When I was a teacher in the 'hood (inner city South Central L.A.) for a decade, we had night computer classes for the adults of the community. I had my students (high school age) from the day time come in to teach their parents with me (it was a job retraining program) and invited parents to come in during the day (if they could) to learn along with and co-teach their kids. The classroom became a community center. Agism was abolished. Each shared what they knew.

We could make the learning environment of this class such a place. How could we do that?

I invite your thoughts. I am of the impression that, by being thematic and adhering to the topics of the book without being slavish to the order of the topics we can find ways to dovetail what you are learning with what your kids or younger family members need to learn or are doing in school.

It is just a thought, but since I am a firm believer that environmental psychology is a keystone discipline that helps us explain, well, EVERYTHING, we can find a way to integrate it in your lives in such a way that the theoretical knowledge and skills you gain during the course help on a practical level with both job and family life.

It occurs to me that, for example, if any of you haven't done the mapping project yet and you are about to take a trip, or you are starting a new job or have moved to a new area, a map that helps YOU navigate the environment you need to function in would serve as well as a map of home. If you are applying for a job working with, say, battered women or special needs children, you might want to jump into the chapters on social and physical environments and how they affect development and violence etc. and become an expert on that so you can ace the interview or make your job easier.

What I am saying is that while we should be responsible for all the material in the course ideally, we should realistically concentrate on the areas that will help us most, and that differes from individual to individual. So let's think how each person can customize their experience while making sure that everyone gets the basics they need to feel they have mastered the course.

Think about how we might make this work and let us discuss it and see what emerges.


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