Is Learning Fun?

I have had an interest in how people learn for some time now.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have been working with an e learning company – LearnKey Canada – for the past six years helping them to bring their products to the business market and to integrate them into private and public universities.

It has been an exciting time, watching the product evolve from a video based format to a completely interactive online learning tool.

Not so quick to evolve however, is the idea and comfort level with online learning. Part of the reason for this has been access speed, but a significant group of people are not used to learning on their own. Self paced learning does require a certain self discipline but a lot has to do with the quality of the learning experience.

We can all think of teachers who inspired us to discover and learn. These were the teachers who thought outside the textbook and tried to make learning fun. The e learning I have been working with, for the most part, creates this great teacher experience. However, I always felt that a great teacher was also a facilitator and resource – there for you when you needed her/him.

And that’s where the whole technology seems to be heading. A more blended approach with live facilitators using the consistent content of e learning. Who doesn’t work better with a mentor – someone to be a resource and expert when you need some additional direction?

However, this still doesn’t move us beyond the 19th century model of command and control teaching. I like to think that real learning should be a process of directed self discovery. I need someone to show me the map and then I can go off on a treasure hunt.

With today’s technology learning should be so much more than just rote memorization of facts and figures. Why, for example, are our children wasting countless hours (and often, tears) memorizing multiplication tables when a 49 cent calculator makes this unnecessary.

What happens as we progress to a more cybernetic organism? Why will we need schooling when we could port information into our brains and instantly know foreign languages or reams of technical information?

What we should be teaching our children is how to think, both critically and analytically. Think of the shift – learning without drudgery, learning that is exciting and fun.

When Technology Attacks!

Sorry if you tried to log in earlier today and got bounced out. My host server was down for a while and as a result the blog was not up. In all fairness though, my host (Bluehost) has been very reliable and responsive and is quick to communicate when things go Kablooey.

Posted to Sparkplug Copyright by Peter McGarvey 2007.

2 Responses to “Is Learning Fun?”

  1. Wesley Cox says:

    Very interesting Peter. Modern day teaching needs revision. Our eldest son, David, in Santa Barbara has just retired after a career of teaching emotionally disturbed children so MY notions about “today’s curricula” are not too “neutralized.” But like your arithmetic example, why are we spending so much time on HISTORY, looking BACKWARDS instead of FORWARD. A little history can go a long way to be sure but to spend an entire year or a period daily of history (an eighth of our whole secondary education) during an entire high school career seems anachronistic in today’s world. It seems a waste of time compared to teaching Today’s Politics, Modern Day Investing and Banking, Futures for Families, that sort of thing. Keep beating the same horse and determine what percentage of parents might agree the system needs a dry cleaning. Wes Cox in Victoria. family friend. -30-

  2. Peter McGarvey says:

    Wes, I’m not suggesting that we stop teaching History or any other subject, I’m suggesting that we change the method of teaching it. If your earliest exposure to history is memorizing facts from a book it may not inspire you to learn much more about the past.

    Education has to be more than just memorization. It has to ignite a desire to want to learn more and also to look critically at what you are learning.

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