Future of Education | MOOC | Reflection | Week 1

I am not an educator by training so a key benefit for me will be to learn the theoretical underpinnings about how humans learn best. There is value to such applied research methods that should feed my interest as an entrepreneur in the education industry. I particularly enjoyed some of the references made by Dr. Elanore Hargreaves in the first interview where she was able to provide the context of different learning styles and the idea of progressive vs. conventional learning. While I had heard of the “Maslow” learning paradigm, its comparison to other learning models through the article on infed.org was also helpful.

I am also interested in the blended mode of education. While online education is now an established mode of learning, its efficacy is still questionable especially in the MOOC format. The blended education model seems to be one way to increase the student engagement since it incorporates the benefit of customized learning through the online mode while also addressing a key component of human learning, that of interacting with others as a learning process.

The blended learning model also provides a class structure and peer pressure that leads towards a higher accountability of homework submissions and examination performance.

My Learning Style

For me to learn something, I clearly need to start with the reason first, the bigger picture of what we are going to do rather than starting with the nitty gritty. This “top down” approach helps me visualize the problem as the overarching purpose that has multiple fundamental components that need to be learnt individually to begin with. These fundamental ideas can then evolve into more complex structures by developed them further or through dependency between them.  An example related to this is the “Electromagnetism” class that I took in engineering where the professor stated the goal first of designing an antenna for a mobile phone, delved deeper into theoretical fundamentals and then it all together to derive the antenna’s specification. Since I am trained as an engineer and am quite analytical by nature, having a structured approach to learning, the kind I described above, is a good way for me to learn.

Another component of my learning style is using analogies to understand a new concept. Relating a new idea in the context of what I already know, and already have a deeper understanding of, helps build a mind map for the new idea. This tactic again tends towards the structured approach of learning.

Learning is also a very self-immersive process for me in the sense that I don’t like anybody to interrupt me at all when I am deep in thought. I learn much better when there is very little ambient noise.

I am particularly bad at learning instances that require a lot of memorization. One such instance is the lack of my interest in biology or medicine since it requires, at least for a significant initial duration, memorization of terms. Another such instance was the “Telecommunications Protocol” class in the engineering curriculum. Even though this was a technical course, a large part of its theory required the student to memorize the technical specifications of various communication protocols.