After watching the video by Seth Godin, it made me take a hard look at how we approach education. I thought about my experiences within the educational system from grade school through my higher education and realized that I rarely thought of learning with an innovative approach. It always just consisted of me attending the classes and doing what was expected of me enough to get a passing grade. I never really thought about the material outside of studying and often forgot the content right after I turned in my tests. The idea that Godin presented in the video was interesting because it pointed out how education is somewhat framed in a way that it is supposed to open up a world of possibilities for students (e.g. think about our motto of “Invent the Future”); however, we educate students in a way that boxes them into a certain way of thinking about the content.
As I have mentioned throughout the semester, the hardest “thinking” that I have had to do on my own with regards to education has been since I started graduate school. For a while, I struggled with generating my own thoughts and not being told what or how I should be thinking about the content. For those who do not explore higher education, they might not encounter this idea of innovative thinking. Therefore, we need to figure out how to generate an environment starting in grade school where students are not learning in a cookie-cutter manner, but approaching education in a way that inspires them to think outside the box, in a more innovative manner.
I really liked the comment that Godin made about baseball fans in regards to textbooks, because it really put things into perspective. If we want students to get excited about and strive to innovative thinking, why would we thinking that a massive book of text would generate these feelings? I am not sure of one student who actually likes to do the required readings for class, but we will spend ample time reading about things that actually interest us and peak our imagination without any hesitation. Therefore, if we are able to generate a similar feeling towards education, students will generally want to learn and take a more proactive, rather than passive, role in their education.
This is a very touchy subject and I often feel myself straddling the fence regarding whether technology is an aid to our daily lives or if it is more of a hinderance. As someone who is not heavily dependent on my phone, laptop, etc. (or so I think), I can definitely understand how constant usage can become a problem especially in the classroom. In contrast, as a researcher, the convenience that these technologies provide not only for research purposes, ease of access, and general connectedness (e.g. checking your email on the go) is something that cannot be denied.
While I generally think people have good intentions in regards to being productive through this notion of being constantly connected, I’m not sure that we are actually being as successful as we think. An example of this is from last year during my first semester in graduate school. Throughout the semester, I would try to work on my final papers a little at a time generally late at night, while watching football, texting my best friend, and gathering articles from the VT library website. Rarely did I ever get anything done and found myself in a hole I felt I couldn’t get out of at the end of the semester. However, I know failure wasn’t an option. Therefore, I gathered all my articles, printed them out, and headed into the library to do some heavy duty writing. I told myself I would only allow breaks to check my phone every hour or so, depending on my progress. I was amazingly able to write two 25-ish page papers in a matter of 72 hours. While this was not necessarily my best work and I wish I would have broken up the work, this was a great lesson to learn early on.
In undergrad, I could multitask with the best of them but looking back, I was never fully engaged in the same way that we have to be in graduate school. I was able to surf the web or browse through Pinterest during my 75 minute courses, and still manage to pull through with a good grade. Trying to continue these habits in graduate school caused me to reevaluate just how much of a distraction technology and multitasking can be overall. While I thought that I was being productive, when faced with a bigger challenge I realize I’m not as good at multitasking as I might think. In the midst of my attempt at high productivity, I was actually hindering myself from putting out my best work.
The article by June Jordan really struck a chord with me because it highlighted some things that I have often found myself wondering about as well. As an African American woman, I have a very different perspective on race, class, and gender that directly correlates to how I have lived growing up, which is generally true for just about everyone on a unique basis. Having been able to break several stereotypes regarding race and class, I feel that the differences among these categories are much less distinct that one might assume. However, there is one area that I feel those in each particular category can relate to and that is gender. Jordan highlighted this in her article when she discussed how the three women, including herself, were different in so many ways and yet similar at the same time. I think the purpose of her attempt at bridging the differences was to show that although race and class are used to create separation and distinctions among us, at the core we are similar in more ways than we realize. I think that by highlighting the fact that there were three different women, all in various situations, but yet they were able to rally together to help out a woman in need shows just the essence of human nature.
As I was reading the Herring article entitled, “Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity”, all I kept thinking was I wonder if one were to repeat this study in an academic setting, would the find similar results? After taking the future professoriate course last semester, it made me realize how much universities are just like businesses. We pay them a certain amount of money for a particular service, in this case education (whether its a good return on investment is still up in the air); therefore, I consider higher institutions large businesses. Herring came to several conclusions in this article in regards to diversity among businesses, that it resulted in increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits.
When thinking about how his correlates to a university, I wonder whether that the same could be said in regards to the effect that diversity has on it. With increases in diversity, universities are able to increase their sales revenue because it brings in more sales revenue and customers due to the fact that an inclusive environment can attract more minority students. With the addition of these students, universities are able to increase their market share and relative profits, since they generally come to the institution for at least four years.
It seems that universities are all about diversity and inclusiveness so I think that it makes sense to apply the same benefits of a diverse workplace to an educational institution. I know that the population of African American minorities here at VT is currently on the decline, as it has been for the past few years, and the university is try to make efforts to increase application/enrollment among this population. After being here for the past five years, one of the top reasons why students decline to come here, even after making a campus visit is because of a lack of relevant minorities. Therefore, VT is not attracting these specific customers, which means that their market share/value in regards to potential African American students is on the decline. I’m not sure if this is a good example, but it came to mind while I was reading and sparked this blog post.
The readings this week from Liu and Noppe-Brandon really hit home for me because I feel it is closely related to something that I have been going back and forth with over the past few weeks. Going into this year, I wanted to completely change my mindset in regards to my studies, mainly because I almost drove myself insane with stress last year. After doing something heavy self reflection, something that came to mind was that I often get caught up in what I cannot accomplish rather than what I can. I found that this idea of imagination spans not only new research and innovative technologies, but also our daily lives. I spend my leisure time not thinking about what needs to be done at the moment, but considering the possibilities regarding my future and imagining where I would like to be. Ironically, I have found this to generate almost a sense of motivation and energy within myself that then drives me to accomplish more in my present life.
Have you ever took a moment to wondered why it is many adults say they like spending time with children? How being around them almost grounds you and makes you think back to a more simpler time, when you could essentially come up with an solution for just about anything? As a child, its likely that we spend most of our time imagining great things and had this mindset that the possibilities in life are endless. As time goes on though, reality sets in and seems to puts out that burning flame we once had for life. The great thing, as noted in these readings, is that your imagination can be cultivated an increased at essentially any age. It just takes the right mindset to do so; you have to make a conscious effort on a daily basis. If you consider all that the human mind can store and how our elevated cognition provides a foundation for us to put things, ideas, concepts, etc. together in ways that no one else can imagine, it seems as if not taking the time to imagine the possibilities is almost a waste of all that knowledge.
Another thing these readings made me think about is how often when new innovative things are released, there are always a handful of people who say they thought of that thing long before it was even released. It makes me wonder why sometimes we would rather sit on an idea and let someone else bring it to fruition, rather than sharing it with everyone in hopes of being able to one day bring that idea to life. Not implying that I’m nesting any great ideas, just a last minute thought!
While completing the readings for this week regarding mindful learning, there were several things that came to mind. As someone who has practiced mindfulness outside of the classroom, the thought of bringing it into an academic setting seemed a bit strange at first. However, this thought was followed by a question regarding why learning is not something that we consider to be a mindful act in the first place. The mind is essentially the storage unit for everything that we learn, so why do we approach it in such a strict, repetitious manner rather than with a more fluid, individualized approach?
When I think of hour mindfulness could be incorporated into higher education, I realize that I consider graduate studies to utilize much more of a mindful approach to than undergraduate courses. I feel like this might be due to the seminar style of our classes and the fact that we are always encouraged to share our thoughts on the information which creates an elevated sense of cognition. Most lower level, undergraduate courses take place in large lecture form, with potentially hundreds of students. Therefore, even if the professors try to engage the students and encourage the sharing of opinions, it poses a real challenge for everyone in the class to approach the material mindfully.
I feel as if the mindless approach to education from grade school through undergraduate studies has hindered me in a way because even now in graduate studies, I’m hesitant to share my personal opinions and challenge the status quo. I try to make sure that I do not sound too assertive when I do share, so that I don’t come off as thinking I know it all or encourage people to challenge my views. After going through the readings, I now realize that there is nothing wrong with having an opinion on or dissecting the material we learn; and in fact, it actually helps us with comprehension.
The readings this week have highlighted how much mindlessness is hindering not only my learning, but potentially the way I teach as well. I often approach teaching the way it was presented to me throughout my educational journey, in lecture based format where there is limited interaction and dialogue with the instructor, aside for one on one meetings often outside class time. The mindful approach to learning has shown me that for my students to better comprehend the information, I need to present it in a way that encourages higher cognition through making them see that there can always be an alternative perspective or approach to the material, and to explore those possibilities.
Last week we talked about the idea of connected learning and the impact that it can have on the way that students are learning today. Having received my Bachelors in Communication, specializing in Multimedia Journalism, I feel that I have a unique insight into how connected learning is becoming more of the norm in collegiate settings.
Throughout my time in undergrad, we were constantly incorporating new technologies into our classroom settings, as well as utilizing various online learning tools. I feel that having been a student who has used these technologies to learn allowed me to grasp a deeper understanding of how students adapt to this idea of connected learning.
Although I’m not necessarily the most accepting person when it comes to new technologies and enjoy some of the old fashioned ways of learning (e.g. I hate online classes!), I do think that connected learning serves a very important role in education today. In essence, it is the future of learning.
I don’t think traditional lecture based learning will be around for much longer, not only due to the convenience that connected learning provides for instructors and students, but also the unique opportunities it provides in the approach to learning. Additionally, with increases in connected learning, it will probably become the norm for the net few generations growing up.
As someone mentioned during class last week, we are in a unique position because many of us grew up when technology was just becoming a household luxury and can even remember a time before it even existed. However, we are also living in a time when use of technology is growing at an exponential rate, especially in the classroom.
The opportunities and abilities that connected learning presents for us to utilize it in the classroom setting is endless. As someone who is considering a career within academia, I’m excited to learn about all the ways I can utilize connected learning in the classroom to bring about more innovative, interactive learning among my students.