It’s been a while since I reflected on my education, but the conversation came up recently over lunch with friends.
I have a friend who is considering a career change (let’s call him Charlie). Charlie is an instructor, and an instructor in every sense of the word. He works in an environment where training or instruction takes place in a way one manner. It’s the classic “sage on the stage” approach, the “font of all knowledge” where the primary task is to transfer a package of knowledge to the audience. “I have this knowledge and I am an expert, and I will now transfer it to you”.
Excuse me while I stop smirking, due to understanding various other far more empowering methods.
Now Charlie is not necessarily an advocate of the instructor led approach, it just so happens that is the environment he works in, and in fact he would make a diamond educationalist in a more liberal, or open environment.
But what does “open” mean here?
Many years ago I used to “train” or “instruct” just like Charlie, that’s the system we grew up with, that’s what we thought “education” was suppose to equate to. When we go to a conference, that’s the experience many of us still expect, we expect to be talked to by an “expert”. Well guess what? That approach is so old school and educationally limiting it’s time we changed our values, or our beliefs on how education can be delivered, and general information.
I’m speaking as a convert mind, if you read my blog a bit you’ll know that I am primarily an educational technologist, ok so one who has had to learn online marketing, branding and SEO through running a successful online business, but at the heart my core is one of an educational technologist.
Sometimes we reach milestones in our lives, or crossroads where significant experiences change our direction forever, and one of those crossroads for me was completing my Masters of Open and Distance Education way back in 2000, abbreviated to MA ODE (Open).
I studied that programme with the IET over three years part time, and in an online mode. So back in 97 we were a buzzing virtual community located globally and sensing something big was coming, and of course it did. We studied concepts years ago concerning social networks and knowledge nodes, we read material which challenged the very notion of what education should be, we debated social interaction in cyberspace (as it was known then), we enthused about the transparency that technology can yield, and the changing dynamic of teacher and student, the power shifts in a learning relationship.
We did so much brain buzzing that it had a fundamental impact on me which changed my outlook forever, and more importantly enabled me to “give-up” the notion that I had to be an “expert” delivering knowledge. We invested brain energy and practise into words such as “constructivism”, and “heutogogy”, all beautiful words which place the learner at the centre of discovery and the teacher as a “guide on the side” a person who creates scaffolding for the learner, but never “spoon feeds”, never has a notion of having to transfer HER opinion, NO the learner must construct their own learning and assumptions.
It is with background that I enthused to Charlie, in the hope Charlie will also find great richness in “giving-up” the teacher power struggle. It is with this background I tell you that study is a good thing, providing you find an “open” approach.
Have you experienced the open approach, maybe you do it every day of your life but just never assumed it was open education?