Learning in Education?

Learning is at the heart of education, or should be. Over the years, as someone who has engaged in The Science of Learning and how that can be applied to formal learning settings, I have spoken at conferences, given numerous workshops and seminars, and worked to support teachers who were in need of help. I have always been shocked at the reception to the idea of incorporating learning into teaching.

What most teachers are really looking for is a quick tip that will make their teaching easier, more dynamic, or be more popular with the students. There have been a few exceptions, but that has been my experience for many years.

Even when trying to get students to learn content for some of the standard ways they are assessed, The Science of Learning has told us much that is known about how students learn. Almost all of that research is ignored by those participating in the workshops and seminars I have run, and virtually all of it is ignored by the majority of those in mainstream education. All that is wanted is a teaching tip. There are very few who engage in trying to find out how people learn because education is all about teaching.

Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, a pioneer in effective science education and past associate director of science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, noted that although much is known (from cognitive psychology, brain science, and college classroom studies) about thinking and learning, this knowledge is almost never applied to teaching techniques.

A couple of examples demonstrate what I mean.

After a seminar, I asked a lecturer who attended several seminars that I led, “What are you going to do with the things we have been talking about here?” Her answer stunned me. It was something like, “I come to these seminars to meet my continued professional development requirements. I have no interest in what the research and evidence tell me about teaching. I worked hard to become a lecturer because that’s what I want to do. I don’t care if the students don’t learn that way. I want to lecture, so that’s what I am going to do”.

How can anyone respond to that kind of answer? I had sensed that sentiment from numerous participants over the years but never had it put quite that bluntly.

More recently I was teaching a couple of classes at a college and was trying to help the students memorize what they needed to know to pass three MCQ exams. I had no input into the curriculum and the tests were written by a team leader. As a sessional, I was hired to deliver material. I introduced a number of measures that would help the students really prepare for these exams using what I know about The Science of Learning. It was different from what they were used to and a couple of the students complained. I was called into the department head’s office and we had a talk about it. She said to me that I needed to make clear exactly what I was doing and why. I did that.

A month later, I was called in again as the same two students had complained a second time about what I was doing. Their complaint was essentially that I was not doing what everyone else was doing and they were not happy. This time, the head of the department was clearly upset. I did point out that the class average for the three classes I taught was somewhat higher than the average test scores from the other sections of the same class. She stated, rather firmly, that the college was a business and the students were customers. If the college could not attract customers, we would all lose our jobs because there would be no students to teach. Again, I heard a stunning statement as she told me that my job was not to worry about what the students learned but my job was to make them happy, so I was to teach the way everyone else was teaching. I left her office ticked off a bit and said – I guess I’ll go read the PowerPoints to the students because I can do that as well as anyone! Needless to say, I was never called back to do any more sessional work.

I realize that there are hundreds of thousands of lecturers who want nothing but a tip to make them look better because their institutions have essentially the same philosophy – make the students happy! But if I can just reach out to a few who care about their students as people and their responsibility to help their students learn, I would feel that I was making a difference. Maybe it is a time for some self-reflection where we can ask ourselves, have I ever really studied anything about The Science of Learning? What is it that I really care about, my students and their development, or how I look out there in the spotlight? That’s something that only you can answer.

How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?

The Value of Learning

Learning is natural. We begin to learn before we are born. The wonderment of childhood in largely because of the excitement that comes with learning. What happens to the excitement and what value do we put on learning?

In a world where we are facing problems of epic proportions (climate change, aging populations, dysfunctional democracy, uncertain energy supply, hungry mouths to feed) we need to harness the power of human creativity. I am, at heart, an optimist, (although the evidence around me would suggest I’m starry-eyed and need to wake up to reality) and I believe that we can learn how to deal with the monumental problems that face us today.

As an educator, I don’t believe that the education world is anywhere close to harnessing the power of learning. Creativity, critical thinking and analysis, and creative applications of thinking define the milestones of human progress. We live in an age when more people receive an education than ever before, and we have reaped the massive benefits that have arisen because of the massification of education at all age levels. We live in an age where information, a vital component of learning, in ubiquitous. However, we have now found ourselves in a state of defending the status quo because it has become one of the largest and most powerful cultural institutions in the world. We are expending massive energy clinging to outdated and restrictive models of education. We didn’t get where we are by refusing to change, we are here because, in the past, a few were willing to risk everything they were to change the world with new and outlandish ideas.

We need to do this again, and one of the most fundamental changes that is needed is the re-evaluation of learning.

Although there are arguments that education is already too expensive, I believe that in order to really harness the potential of the creative and learning mind, the value of learning has to be increased. I’m not talking about money (although that will be needed), I’m talking about the value we put on learning. We don’t just need to increase learning’s value, we have to really increase it.

In much of the developed world, classrooms of children, teenagers and (young) adults in formal learning environments are large and getting larger. As a result, much of our energies have been focused on making teaching more efficient, forcing conformity, and putting out a uniform product. How can we process huge numbers of minds uniformly and simultaneously when we are all unique.

If we look at our society today, while we strive for ever greater efficiencies in teaching, we find that fewer and fewer of our graduates find meaningful employment that uses the real creativity and talent that they really have. Much of what we have traditionally done as people is, due to the miracles of technology, being replaced by gadgets, mechanisms, and algorithms. Machines and technology are doing many of the jobs we have relied on, in the past, to provide meaningful employment to millions. We are on the cusp of seeing millions more displaced by ever evolving and brilliant technologies. We have found ourselves in a state of massive social and cultural upheaval, with our values anchored in a mercantilist past. A money trader is worth a million times more than a teacher. Even though money trading can (and has been – to a large extent) automated.

I would say that teaching can’t and shouldn’t be automated. Certainly, parts of education can be automated, but the real learning of complex ideas, complex information, and complex skills involved in thinking and creativity, that would really unleash the power and brilliance of individual minds must still be learned in a face to face, supportive environment with very low student/teacher ratios. Shaping and molding an individual mind to reach its full potential is a customized process that can’t be achieved using the factory methods developed early on in the massification of education.

As a society, why don’t we really value learning? With millions of people unemployed, why are we creating ever larger lecture theaters and classrooms to do nothing more than transmit information?

Would there need to be endless testing and measurement necessary if a teacher of six-year-olds had only five children to work with? If a middle-school teacher could really inspire a handful of young teenagers to love the beautiful simplicity of math (if that’s what the teens found interesting)? How enjoyable would the teaching and learning experience be in higher education if a teacher (wouldn’t be lecturers in this world) worked with a few eager students to help them learn to think and be creative as opposed to setting continuous memorization exercises for the hundreds or thousands?

If we were to revalue learning, we could provide meaningful and fulfilling careers for millions – think about how you feel inside when you see the bulb light up in one of your student’s eyes. We could harness the power of human thinking and creativity instead of churning out ever greater numbers of graduates who have learned the two most important skills we focus on in today’s world: memorization and conformity (the opposite of creativity). We are talented and brilliant people. We have been entrusted with molding the minds of the next generation. We have, in our hands, the opportunity to really make a difference today. I believe we can and will come up with solutions to the world’s most challenging problems, but not if we continue to try to address tomorrow’s world with yesterday’s methods.

Let us work together to change the world by making thinking and creativity the goal of our teaching and not just passing on information. Thinking and creativity will find solutions to the challenges we face, not ticking a box on an MCQ answer sheet, writing a single essay with no opportunity to defend arguments through a number of iterations, or presenting a single talk channeling all of their creativity into using a canned theme for impact.

We can do this.

How have we made something as exhilarating as learning, as oppressive as education?

Academic Skills: Why Should We Teach Them

In the late 90’s when the skills agenda was all the rage in the UK, I was tasked to develop a skills program. At the time they were key skills, and they were slowly transformed into employability skills. I don’t think anyone cared what they were called, they were all the same thing.

According to the skills agenda, the best way to teach the key skills was to embed skills into the curriculum for the students to acquire. As I went to workshops, seminars, conferences etc. etc. etc., I found that the number one way to meet the skills agenda was to embed the skills into the students’ classes. As a lecturer, you require the students to give a talk as an assessment in a class, and you then tick off the oral communication skill (one-off embedding). Writing an essay counts as teaching student how to write (written communication). The other, less popular, but still fashionable way to meet the agenda is to, run a key skills class for all students in their first year, and they then have the necessary skills to succeed at university (and hence, life).

Both of these approaches are phony, for entirely different reasons. Giving someone the experience of doing something once in a class (oral presentation) does not constitute teaching, and skills are, by their very definition, something that you need to initially acquire at some baseline level, and then improve on over time. With all of the skills, including the skill to think, there is no teaching, just make the students do something once and they then have it.

By the same token, having a single class in the first year that covers a wide range of skills does not mean that you are skilled at anything, it means that you have barely begun acquiring a skill at some baseline level. Nobody (except 16-year-olds) would argue that taking driver’s ed and passing a drivers test makes anyone a skilled driver. Like any skill (including academic skills), the real skill of driving is acquired over time, after having driven for years.

Skill development is something that must be explicitly taught and then practiced over and over again in a focused way. It takes time and energy. How many lecturers will tell their students that they must give an oral presentation and then wonder why they aren’t very good at it. How many classes give students the opportunity to speak (or write, or think) over and over while providing help and guidance along the way so that the students can improve. I know that you can’t because you have too much stuff to cover. How can you take the time to improve the students’ academic skills when there is just so much curriculum to cover?

How can we expect our students to learn to engage in formal operational thinking (or more colloquially, think critically) if we never teach them how? I hear it all the time that students don’t come to university properly equipped with critical thinking skills and so it is the fault of the primary and secondary school system. When it comes to formal operational thinking, the developmental stage when people’s brains reach the developmental milestone that even begins to equip them with the ability to think critically is adolescence. Even then, by grade 12, only about 60% show any sign that they are actually able to simultaneously work with multiple abstract variables. This is what formal operational thinking is, and this is what critical thinking requires.

When students enter university there is still a sizable minority of who are unable to engage in critical thinking skills because their brains have not yet reached that developmental milestone. And then, rather than taking the time to teach them how, we assess them and complain about how unprepared they are when they arrive. One of the most frequent laments is, “Why don’t we raise the admission standards so we can get students who can think?”.

As a result, we give them content to memorize. Content is easier to prepare, easier to present, easier to test, and easier to grade. Forget the skills. Skills are difficult to prepare, difficult to present, difficult to test, and difficult to grade. And besides, the students like it that way. Give them content to regurgitate, plus a minuscule twist so you can say you are not one of those who just lectures, and everyone is happy. Besides, no one really knows how to do this stuff anyway, so just let it be.

How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?

Effort in Learning

I’m disappointed to see so much effort put into making learning effortless (learning styles, cognitive enhancing drugs etc.). The most basic and critical components of learning is the laying down of memory traces. Making meaningful connections to the knowledge you already have. The act of taking information and going through the process of moving it from information to knowledge and then understanding.

Another critical component of learning involves the correct reactivation of those memory traces. If you can’t recall what you’ve learned, then you haven’t really learned it. Laying down memory traces, and strengthening them so they can be reactivated takes energy. Whenever the brain uses energy in a directive fashion effort is involved.

In fact, research into cognition clearly demonstrates that the more effort that is put into learning something, the better it will be recalled in the future. For effective learning, that effort must be in both the encoding (the learning) or the retrieval (the recall). Transferring information from sensory memory to short-term memory, to episodic memory and finally into a stable long-term memory trace is the kind of learning we are trying (or supposed to be trying) to accomplish in higher education. Bjork’s (one of the world’s leading memory researchers) Desirable Difficulties chapter provides great background reading about the work of memory in learning (that is if you are looking for real research int how people learn rather than the latest fad). The idea that we make it as easy as possible for students to learn is missing the point. Requiring them to invest energy in the process and put real effort into the process is what fosters learning.

Although this might not fit well in a world where the massification of higher education means packing them ever higher and deeper into a lecture hall for the shallow sit down, shut up, face the front while I tell you how to think type of activity that accounts for most of the teaching that takes place in higher education today.

How Could We Take Something as Natural and Wonderful as Learning and Turn it into Education?

It’s not How we do Education, it”s What we do in Education

We live in a complex world with a myriad of problems that need attention. We have what we need to seriously address them, but we have failed to develop what we most need – our human capital.

Students enter higher education by the millions with 87% wanting nothing more than a degree and we teach them how to get a degree. We teach them how to use their episodic memory in order to get through an exam. We teach them to conform to a system. We teach them how to navigate a bureaucracy. And, most importantly, we teach them how to use most of the Microsoft Office suite.

We pretend to teach them a range of skills that the world needs, but where do we teach them? Critical thinking doesn’t just happen, it has to be taught and practiced over and over, and even then, it is hard work. Public speaking isn’t taught by simply requiring a student to give a presentation in class, it needs to be taught. We know that our assumption about them knowing how to write is incorrect, but then, we don’t really teach them that either.

Conformity and bureaucratic navigation aren’t enough. The problems we face in the world today need millions of graduates who can think, not just memorize enough to tick the right box on a multiple choice answer sheet or the much more difficult fill in the blanks for the short answer exam.

By thinking, I mean:

•      a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture (Bacon 1605)

•     the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action (Paul, 1987)

•     self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way (Elder)

•     the mental processes, strategies, and representations people use to solve problems, make decisions, and learn new concepts (Sternberg, 1986, p. 3)

•     the propensity and skill to engage in an activity with reflective skepticism (McPeck, 1981, p. 8)

•     reflective and reasonable thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do (Ennis, 1985, p. 45)

•     thinking that is goal-directed and purposive, “thinking aimed at forming a judgment,” where the thinking itself meets standards of adequacy and accuracy (Bailin et al., 1999b, p. 287)

•     judging in a reflective way what to do or what to believe (Facione, 2000, p. 61)

•     skillful, responsible thinking that facilitates good judgment because it 1) relies upon criteria, 2) is self-correcting, and 3) is sensitive to context (Lipman, 1988, p. 39)

•     the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome (Halpern, 1998, p. 450)

•     seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence, deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems, and so forth (Willingham, 2007, p. 8).

•     purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or conceptual considerations upon which that judgment is based (Facione, 1990, p. 3)

Our own research tells us we’re failing at this. Being able to tick the right box on a multiple choice answer sheet doesn’t teach this. Writing a canned essay for a class doesn’t teach this. We know that the most effective way of teaching these vital thinking skills is through consistent, robust, and challenging academic discussion. But we don’t do it.

Instead, we pack them into increasingly larger lecture theaters – and an online learning environment has become just that – and tell them what they need to memorize in order to pass an examination.

I know that no one really does this, because everyone in higher education tells me that they do more than just teach students how to memorize enough to pass a test, but that isn’t what the evidence says. We are failing abysmally our duty to make a meaningful contribution to form a better society. All we are doing is training workers for jobs that disappeared 10 years ago, and that is if we work at a progressive institution, otherwise, we are training them for jobs that disappeared 40 years ago.

The discussion around reform in higher education is all about how we deliver or repackage what we are already doing. When are we going to begin the discussion about what it is that we are doing?

How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?

The Failed Promise of Technology

Why is it that technology has not revolutionized education. The promise of the decades has failed to fundamentally change education in any meaningful way. With all the educational technologies promising to change the world, I still have to agree with  William Bagley (1934) “If I were seriously ill and in desperate need of a physician, and if by some miracle I could secure either Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, or a young imgresdoctor fresh from John Hopkins School of Medicine, with his equipment comprising the latest developments in the technologies and techniques of medicine, I should, of course, take the young doctor. On the other hand, if I were commissioned to find a teacher for a group of adolescent boys, and if by some miracle, I could secure Socrates or the latest Ph.D. from Teachers College, with his latest technologies and techniques of teaching,… I am fairly certain that I would jump at the chance to get Socrates.”

Why? Why? Why?

We’re coming up to almost 100 years since Bagley said this with some of the greatest technological advances in the history of the world, and we’re still here. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) would be impressed with PowerPoint and a data projector, but otherwise would be unimpressed with the way we do things in education.

With all the progress we have made in the last 150 years, where have we come (or not) with education? Lecturing (memorize and regurgitate) still comprises about 90% of the learning experiences in our institutions of higher education. The ability of our graduates to actually think barely increases in the time they are with us. We have finally entered the age of information ubiquity. Technology has emerged that has the potential to transform how we learn. And yet, here we are.

Why is it that the best we have been able to do with the promises of technology is to take the worst of our educational practices and digitize them? Why are we still training students for jobs and occupations that existed 50 years ago? No one wants to use technology to change what we are doing, we want use technology to change how we are doing what we have always done.

Why is it that the subjects that should be driving changes in the way we learn are doing so poorly. According to Arum and Roksa, education has one of the worst track records when it comes to teaching their graduates how to think. Change in the way we do things is not going to emerge from there. Psychology, where the study of how people learn has been going on for some 150 years, has a lecturing rate exactly the same as the rest of higher education. Resistance from the field is exactly the same as the resistance encountered everywhere else.

When are we going to stop for a moment of serious self-reflection? When are we going to begin to really ask the questions that will lead to something different? When are we going to actually change what we do in order to make a difference? When are we going to change our model of education from a model of information scarcity to a model of information abundance?

We all know that any time a system works for people there is massive resistance to change. The system has worked for us and so why change it.

Instead of just thinking of ourselves and basking in our own brilliant success, shouldn’t we think about our obligation to make our society a better place? Isn’t it time for us to make a transformational change that will result in transformed graduates who can transform the world? Or is this just asking too much?

I don’t believe it! We can do better! We can do this! Let’s find a leader who can take us there!

How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?

What is Needed for Learning to Think

There are three primary ingredients necessary to teach students how to think. They are 1) a way to motivate the students to engage in the process, 2) the ideal way for them to learn how to think, and 3) a technology that allows you to bring the other two together and scale it up to class sizes just under 100. It took some time for me to find a way to bring all three together, but I figured it out and have been teaching that way for about seven years now.

The method of teaching works when the students have a basic background in the subject. This method has worked across a variety of subjects from Learning and Education  and Social Cognition (subjects you would expect the students to love learning with the method I use), to Advanced Research Methods. When you teach students they way they learn and include for them a chance to learn how to think the results are amazing.

Some of the student comments from over the years can give you a flavor of what their experience is like (I love it, and I’m not kidding). I’ll give you a random selection from each year so you can see what they say. I promise you, I am not picking the best to impress you. This is what I hear over and over again. Students love to think, and when they get a chance, this is what they say.

I think it has given the majority of us a new perspective on the education system, giving us the opportunity to experience self-directed learning. Comparing this to other teaching methods, it seems hard to understand why methods like this aren’t used more often, especially in higher education. I don’t think I previously realised the true value of the ‘deeper learning’ which is associated with experiential learning and problem solving; whilst these don’t initially seem to apply to this module, I would argue that presenting an argument on your topic every week, and thinking creatively to comment on others’ blogs, both of which require a lot of research and a good understanding, do encourage deeper learning. (https://bonitadavies.wordpress.com/)

Before beginning the (MA) degree I expected nothing more than long tedious lectures consisting of note taking and doodles, how wrong was I? Never in my four years of undergraduate study have I experienced learning in such an effective way, and dare I say it – fun! I’ve learnt more in this module that has ‘no teaching’, than I have in any other so far. My only critique of this module is that it makes going to other lectures very hard! Thank(s) so much for a great learning experience; let’s hope others adopt (this) teaching model. (https://psp2c0.wordpress.com/)

Over the past 3 years, we have been exposed to ‘traditional’ teaching environments – all of us sitting in lecture theatres, facing forward in silence, listening to the ‘expert’. What have we learnt in these environments?

What Educators Think: We have gathered a vast knowledge and understanding of the topic. We are prepared for the upcoming exam.

The Reality:   We have updated our facebook statuses. Our doodles have become more advanced. We have learnt to sleep subtly.

This module has demonstrated the success of modernised learning environments. I have learnt more across the last semester than I ever have in any other module. I am driven to learn. I am excited to read my peers’ ideas.

I have been inspired and excited by this educational module and only hope that we begin to see more flexible and student-driven programmes in the future! (http://psyched101.wordpress.com/)

If I had to sum up this module in a single word, it would most likely be refreshing; this module has rejuvenated a part of education that I had long since forgotten, a desire to expand my knowledge for my own benefit, not just learning for the benefit of high grades.

It’s quite clear to see then that the reason this module is such a success is because it uses many concepts that provide excellent learning methods – concepts that the module actually teaches us about! It teaches us about teaching through teaching! It’s a metamodule! (http://psuafc.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/week-10-reflection/)

For me the most significant experience was how the module induced feelings of cooperation, with amazing support and words of encouragement off peers when performing presentations, respect from others for differing opinions and amiable responses that introduced conflicting evidence

All in all, this module has been amazing, empowering, engaging, motivational… obviously highly EDUCATIONAL… and so much more!!! (http://spc69.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/reflection/)

I can honestly say I have enjoyed the module. By no means has it been an easy ride, the work load has been much more demanding as you had to produce a good standard of work on a weekly basis.  Despite the hard work, I haven’t been sat in a lecture with hundreds of others bored, frustrated and not understanding concepts being presented. Instead I have taken an interest in others work, enjoyed divulging in extra research and writing about topics that I care about. I think this is what education should strive for, a love of learning. (http://scienceofeducationrebeccaknight.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/so-long-farewell/)

The only reason people get lost in thought is because it is unfamiliar territory – This may well be the case for some people, but this module certainly has made me think, and quite a lot! (http://captainhazza.wordpress.com/)

Thank You Jesse for coming up with an original way to conduct a module, and thank you to my co-students for all the stimulating debates that have happened during this module!! (http://elenmai.wordpress.com/)

Wow, what a journey this module has been. I really feel that I have learned more here than in any previous module. Being able to go off on research what interests you and then write up your findings as you wish really ignited an intrinsic drive to do well. As Jesse pointed out, all of our work is on the open internet, for all to see. Couple this with the fact that our class mates are all critically discussing each other’s work, and there is certainly reason to stay motivated. I agree with Rich, that to some degree I have felt like a real writer at times, and besides from all of the content knowledge that I have learned, it is certainly worth while acknowledging all of the other skills that I (as I’m sure we all have) have improved/ picked up. For one, my writing has definitely improved. Further, I am sure that our research skills have improved, having to research each week in at least one area, and more if we were to give a decent response to other people’s blogs.

Thank you Jesse for a fantastic module, I hope it is recognised as the success I see it as, and continues and progresses further. (http://stephengarethedwards.wordpress.com/)

…other modules are boring. I have never been completely enthralled by a lecture given by the professors. Listening to the same voice and sitting in the same seat for 2 hours used to send me into the most wondrous and incredible powernaps I have thus far experienced! However this module really opens your eyes to the different possibilities and it makes you think if the other lecturers chose this approach how much more fun and learning would occur it would be insane!!! (http://heatherd14.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/the-grand-finale/#comments)

The method of teaching, which this module has utilized, has been extremely effective process of learning. I think I have done more external research here than any other module while at university. This is because in order to understand properly what people have been talking about each week then I have had to do my own research. This has proved to be very effective method of learning for me and I think something like this could be used in other subject to teach students in secondary schools.

I would like to thank everyone for making this module really interesting. I would also like to thank Jess in designing this novel way of learning module as this has not only been fun but have been really informative and eye opening on the field of science of education (https://johnny2340.wordpress.com/)

I’ve never read so many papers than for this module. I’ve definitely gone the extra mile with the actual writing too, trying to please the reader (although perhaps my word counts weren’t appreciated). Everyone works hard not to look an idiot in front of their peers, but more than that, they want to impress them. And this has really raised the bar for the class of work being produced. I have also learned a lot from others who have addressed questions that I never even thought of before, such as “What are we educating for?”. Awesome module… (http://phillippadoran.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/and-last-but-not-least/#comments)

I don’t think the things I have picked up in this module will be forgotten and I also think I will continue to read about these issues past the module which is something I don’t usually do!

All in all, it depends upon the module organizer, we have been lucky in Jesse that he was willing to try something new; I’m sure not every member of staff would be as open to new methods of teaching and learning. (http://richsworld89.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/end-of-the-line/#comments)

Some of “transferable” skills I think I have developed are:

  • Flexible writing. I am now able to write more freely, before I had a tendency to fall under the word count. I now think that I am able to discuss points in more depth and draw on previous learning in my writing (I found after the first few posts blog ideas came easily to me). I will try to continue blogging to try and retain and develop this skill.
  • Review the evidence. Many of the topics I chose had unclear answer or highly differing opinions. I feel I have developing my researching skills and can review the evidence.
  • Discussion. Although this is not a specific skill I feel that I am more confident in doing so. I really enjoyed this aspect of the class. It is something that I feel that should be developed within other classes, especially the format as it allowed for freedom of expression.
  • Interest. Again not a specific skill but I before I hadn’t considered pursuing this area as a career. I have developed a passion for the subject, especially evidence-based practices and intervention within schools.


I also notice in most blogs, that we do not pitch our blogs and comments at Jesse, we pitch them at each other. This is peer learning and it just shows that we can learn a lot from each other. I’m sure Jesse has also learnt a few bits and pieces from us too.

It’s great to get an insight into what you’ve gained from this module. You’ve not shied away from difficult topics in your talks and blogs and this has been great for expanding existing knowledge and learning about new topics. It shows what a difference a open can mind can make. (http://goodnewsfarnsworth.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/thatll-learn-him/#comments)

This module has definitely left me with life long skills. It has got me trying to better myself, what with being in comparison with fellow classmates/Housemates. It keeps you on your toes and makes you want to out do yourself every week.

I agree with you that this module has helped improve my writing skills as well. Being dyslexic I was very apprehensive about writing a blog each week at first. As I’m an awful speller and at times my grammar can be bad too. This has made me aware of my weaknesses in writing and I have found ways to get around this each week. (http://stephengarethedwards.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/last-blog/#comments)

Jesse Martin is awesome!

Oh captain, my captain!

(always wanted to say that)

Anonymous student evaluation comment

Contact me at j.martin@scholol.net if you want to know more about what and how I do it and both you and your students will be changed forever – I promise!

How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?