Tag Archives: courses

Entertaining while Educating

www.northeaststage.comWhen I sit down to see a movie or play, I slouch in my seat waiting to be entertained. I’ve become a critic at best by analyzing acts, second-guessing performances, and judging the proper use of lines or voice for most effect.  At the movies, I might even comment on camera angles, acting skill, or a scene’s usefulness.

When I’m sitting in a classroom, lecture, training, and the like, I may not slouch but I’m still an observer. Watching powerpoints, handouts, effective use of time, and key points explaining why-we-are-here-in-the-first- place.  There’s nothing that triggers my mind to see an educational classroom differently from a performance theater. 

Should this be the case?  Should classroom and theater be treated as equal?

Despite a clear answer, we see teachers, speakers, educators, professors, even a student lecturing for the day, feel compelled to entertain us instead of educate.  Maybe that explains “icebreakers?”  These mostly pointless activities to keep us interested yet having nothing to do with the overall objective.

What these classroom ‘entertainers’ might consider is to do away with the performance bit.  Instead of finding ways to entertain, they should disclose what’s behind the scenes…even share the script…giving their audience speaking lines too.  Imagine if I went to a movie where I was an actor.  Wouldn’t I call it “my movie” and would invite all who knows me to come and gaze at the screen.  I might even sell “authorized” dvds!  The point is that I’m not a distant observer anymore but an active participant and promoter of the film.   

What if educational settings were directed in such a way? Where the students and learners have essential parts to play.  Both practitioner and learner would have necessary roles— not for entertainment, but for learning shared by all      


Looking for a Universal Learning Language

edtechroundup Idea Image

When seriously thinking about Lifelong learning and continuing education, it becomes not an idea just for America, Canada or even Australia, but for the entire world.  But if educators are to consider a global perspective, what is the common language or practice we share? (Especially when we have different cultures, lifestyles, social classes, economics, and all the rest)

What can a professor in Kenya learn from a teacher in America; how can an instructor in Seoul gain anything useful from a trainer in Montreal?

This common language in my view is the very practice of learning and education itself: the activities, lessons, and methods teachers use in education.  We must start to analyze lectures, group discussions, role plays, and demonstrations just like surgical tools in medicine.  All educators as professionals should know in what ways to use a learning method and what level of skill or competence is necessary to perform it. 

This may seem like an easy task, but through my entire experience as a student and an evolving educator, I have yet to see a comprehensive ,well-detailed synopsis of teaching activities and methods with very clear purposes.  Instead what we have seen are professional assessments of teachers’ philosophies, beliefs, and values assuming that once understood, instructors can shape these activities and methods how they see fit….Really?

For example, just because I may know that I subscribe to an educational philosophy, or being a learner-centered teacher with the students’ interest in mind; this does not address my actions. For when I teach, I am no more knowledgeable about what steps to take to ensure my educational philosophy and intentions, or whether they are being met thorough my teaching performance.

Therefore, this blog is to announce my intention to research these activities of learning. Not just as a means of American education, but as a key to establishing a universal language of teaching learning and improving the learning profession.  I know that the major accomplishments of mathematics with its universal symbols will never be challenged, it would be nice to find a way for educators to speak to each other across the world.

Best Teachers in Today’s Television: A Discussion

The idea of the ‘Best Teachers of Today’s Television’  comes from when I click the remote, browsing through channels, I noticed that I immediately pause for certain individuals when they appear.  I know I would do better getting a tv listing or finding on-demand telecasts, but for now I want to recognize those who keep me interested and informed-everytime I get the chance to see them. 

Best Teachers in Today’s Television Nominee


Charlie Rose

I remember years ago when I first saw this program: I took a nap. Later, I realized that the basic setting of a “round table and a conversation” was not visually exciting, but intellectually awakening.  Charlie Rose, is the exceptional everything, confronting current issues and topics around the world within one-hour segments.  His range is enormous: from politics, education, and science to movies, music, comedy and even sports.  I mention sports last because I would argue it is his weakest subject although he asked more than basic questions.  Rose seem to look at the transforming effect of all subjects under discussion and how they can improve to serve a larger society.

Those who may not have the time to read a newspaper, or frustrated for haven’t picked up a book in a while, Rose would be a great start.    The round table, where he and his guest(s) talk, has a space just for you to sit and learn to get-in-the-know.   If I was to develop a free, independent learning course, Charlie Rose would be the first part of the suggested curriculum.   

Learning-For-Yourself (not by yourself)

What’s underneath many of our blog’s messages promote one basic point: Learn for Yourself!

Another name is called, “Self-directed Learning.”  For me, self-directed learning is just that, an approach toward continuing education that is directed, guided, and supported by our personal and social interests.  This may seem like common-sense.  But some choices we make in terms of our education, only relates to a job, career, or future advancement. Sure, these could satisfy personal aims too, but there’s usually a goal in mind. 

So, I ask you: when was the last time you explored something with no goal in sight?  What were they? 

To me, I think of hobbies in this way.  Hobbies are what we have an interest for, but seem to never make money from it, maybe even spending, what we think, is way too much.  Yet we know, some of the best businesses start from people finding ways to earn a living from what they already love to do.  They realize that the financial bottom-line may be minimal, but their lifetime of rewards are overly abundant.

I wonder what our world would be, if we all pursued what we loved instead of what pays us more? 

In fact, I remember a childhood cartoon called the Smurfs (yes, the Smurfs!) that although they looked the same (royal blue, I think) they had their own specialty and talent whereby the entire community relied upon them to express their gifts. 

Still as a child, my mother once said: “It takes everybody to make a world.”  It spoke to how our differences is what makes us unique, yet at the same time, the society needs us to be different, to show our uniqueness, and express our talents for the betterment of everyone. 

I believe Learning-For-Yourself is the same way:  We all have different interests, so that new courses should be created; different teaching methods applied; and instruction from schools and universities should embrace change and serve as “resources of inspiration”-guiding us to learn on our own, together.

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Have Any Thoughts about Online Learning?

Computer Problems

2010© Image from BigStockPhoto.com

With the emergence of online distance learning from Kaplan, Walden, Capella, University of Phoenix and others in the distance learning field, I’m left wondering, is it ALL worth it?

Perhaps, I should make a clear distinction in the ways to learn online; as pursuing a degree being one way of learning, while using Google, Wikipedia, or receiving RSS feeds as other sources of online learning.

What troubles me overall is that what may seem convenient in terms of using online resources, regardless of the reason, that it can make us overlook our real need. Just like the invention of the microwave was great, but it still didn’t solve the basic choice of what to eat.  Many of us have cell phones where we can presumably get in touch with anyone we wish, wherever we are.  This too didn’t answer the question of who is worth calling, for what reason, and why it is important to call now.

My mixed thoughts are the same with online learning.  In fact, if you are reading this blog, this is a form of online learnig (so keep reading); but my point is that with the supposed ease of online, are we masking other issues, regardless of the environment.  So much so, that the cost of some online learning programs can be just as costly as being there in person.

What I’m saying: Let’s think about the need, before the method.  Ask yourself first, what is my reason I need to learn this? I mean the REAL reason.  Then look at all the different ways to satisfy that need.  Weigh it with your personal learning preferences (I will talk about that in a posting later) to decide what’s best for you.

I’m going to try out my own advice too…LEARNLONG!