Waw, such a nice topic, but nothing new. I remember when I was at teachers college it was all about positive reinforcement. Everything had to be done in a way that supported and encouraged children’s learning, so there’s nothing new on that front – well except for one important point. In the future there will be plenty of programmes that encourage students online, but will we really listen to a computer’s encouragement? This is something totally new and though it is important for a programme to offer the ‘congratulations!!’ with fireworks, streamers and whistles, in fact it will not be the thing that drives us forward online.
One of the key reasons why online learning has failed is that self motivation to learn just isn’t strong enough. To get up and go to the computer and engage with the course and get the answers right, is now seen as a very difficult task for most people. This is not because we humans have been fed on a diet of ‘human appreciation’ and should start learning how to diminish it, that’s just insanity. The main reason is because learning is so much more than a curriculum delivering a course with a quiz to make sure you get it right.
So what is it then, what stops us from being distracted with those other things we love to do? Well, in a nutshell, it is the fact that a curriculum should be seen as only the skeleton of the programme, that it is the real flesh that makes the body of learning work. And what is the ‘flesh’ as we call it? Well it is exactly that – human beings being human beings. This means – laughing, joking, being interested, being with others, being included in group work and also feeling a sense of belonging which ultimately comes down to encouragement. Encouragement not only to continue learning, but encouragement to start, encouragement to keep going, encouragement to talk to others, encouragement to work as a team, encouragement to be human within the inhuman process. Learning at the very basic level only actually gets off the ground if there is an element of humanness and encouragement present.
Online learning works for some professional agencies, but for 95% of the world, the need to engage with humans and get feedback is still the number one reason we continue to learn. If we got nothing back on anything except a score and some online graphics fireworks, we would all really wonder what life was about.
Future teacher training will change significantly but most importantly the idea of learning how to encourage will be the number one port of call for all teacher training. Computers will be a big part of our learning in an incredible way, but they can never encourage like a human, this is where the teacher will come in….time for the teacher to universally get engaged and in charge of this.
As Educationist Sugata Mitra says – the future of online learning asks for one main thing – to call all grannies – as they are the most encouraging people of all – their role in future education could be pivotal….