Education all over the world has a very similar uniform defining structure. Be it schools, colleges, or universities, you sit in a lecture hall, listen to someone talk about a subject hour long, complete assignments and sit through exams. Those final grades are all that matters, that decides your level of understanding and more importantly your level of competence. And this structure has defined the framework of learning as well. If you graduate top of the class, you must have learnt the most. The true sense of learning often gets lost in this rat-race. By the time a person becomes a successful banker, he hardly remembers 12th grade Physics and loses all the wonder and curiosity of the workings of universe.
As well as this might have worked in the past, I would like to believe “learning” should not be so stringent, so restricted. Debates and discussions always broadens one’s perspectives, it forces us to think more and to ask deeper questions. The current understanding of pedagogy around the globe is undergoing a transformation and hopefully for the better. Universities are replacing conventional lecture rooms with more informal, more interaction-oriented pathway classrooms. I have the rewarding opportunity to be a teaching assistant in such a class this semester. The set-up is more like a restaurant than a classroom. Round tables, lot of talking and the instructor and us TA’s going around making conversations, provoking healthy debates. Such an ambience in a classroom has lots of assets; the instructor can ensure to the best of his ability that the students are grasping the concepts, the students are able to feel more connected to the subject as well as to others in the class. Instead of the often-bitter sense of competition that we have grown up with our entire school and college life, this format of pedagogy cultivates a sense of educating oneself and other’s around without bias. Such a setup creates a beautiful dynamics of teaching and learning, learning while teaching, and often blends the student-teacher hierarchy.
Probably the most natural way to take this beyond classrooms and further into the circle of academia would be to utilize the vast space of world wide web. To share ideas and opinions in form of blogs and posts, to make resources more accessible. After-all, knowledge grows only when shared. But everything good also comes with a share of bad. I really think I need to be more informed about networked learning and the various aspects of what it entails, to have more educated opinions.
Please feel free to comment, share your ideas, ask questions, or share links that you have found useful. Here’s to my “initiation to networked learning” !!