Independent Education

My educational career started off painful and compulsory.  It has now evolved into somewhat of an obsession where I cannot get enough new information into my brain.  I think that is where my interest in technology has come from.  Tech tools have allowed learning to become such an independent and intriguing experience.

Independent learning is better for me because I am in control of what I want to know and how I want to learn.  I can also (usually) control the rate at which I learn it.  When I first found out about the Khan Academy I was thrilled to realize that I could work to understand those impossible concepts from my high school past.  Such examples of open source learning empower us to go beyond the finite parameters of any classroom.  The Internet is the ultimate tool of differentiation because it allows learning to be:

  • self-directed
  • inquiry based
  • exploratory
  • open-ended
  • self assessed

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I think the formal education experience is still a little tedious, and with emerging organizations like MOOC and University of the People we may just be on the edge of a massive shift.  Also, not because of any organization, but simply because of a simple Google Search or online video, we are able to learn how to cook, dance, play music, and even how to use our tech tools instantly.  As discussed in this Ted Talk by Chris Anderson, video online is one of the most powerful tools for teaching and learning.

A final consideration for the future of education and teaching is that it may no longer be just for the privileged.  If this shift keeps happening, then we might realize that formal classroom settings and one teacher as the passer of knowledge to a class of pupils are not necessary.  An online network can provide equivalent or superior support to that of classmates.  And those with specialties, ideas or experiences to share, not those with teaching degrees, become our mentors even if they are not formally educated or privileged.

Avatar of Laura Arleth

About Laura Arleth

I am currently one of 13 fourth grade teachers as Singapore American School with 22 students to guide in the process of learning. I have so much fun integrating meaningful technology in the class which motivates students. I have also lived and taught in Venezuela, Korea, and Canada, earned my MS from SUNY Buffalo, and am currently working on COETAIL. I hope one day to be a writer, photographer, yoga teacher, and mother!
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2 Responses to Independent Education

  1. Wow, you summed up so much so well. I especially like your quote “An online network can provide equivalent or superior support to that of classmates”. I think you could definitely say this for teachers as well.

    You touch on a very powerful concept when you say that ” the future of education and teaching is that it may no longer be just for the privileged”. I think technology has the opportunity to give everyone a voice and an opportunity to contribute. I wonder what Paulo Freire would say about technology’s place as an empowering tool in education.

    By the way I love the “Google” postcard!

  2. Avatar of Geoff Odell Geoff Odell says:

    Laura, I was reflecting on how much I’ve learned this year online, on my own. I have taken my photography to a new level mostly due to the hours I’ve spent reading articles and watching videos. I’m not afraid to take on big tasks in graphic arts because I know that when I run into a Photoshop snafu, I can google the solution and figure it out. So I can really relate to what you are saying. And this is the world our kids were born into. They don’t know any different.

    I also relate to what you’re saying about making education accessible to those other than the privileged. Khan has that same vision, doesn’t he? I thought it was interesting this week at church. Our congregation was asked to help fund the purchase of cell phones for the graduates of an education project we fund. The rationale is that these phones are used very much like computers are for us. They open up a greater word with bigger opportunities. Very cool idea.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts!

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