I am a life-long leaner only I haven’t come to realize that until recently. Education has always been important to me, even as a child. I know what it’s like to milk the cow or slop the hogs before getting on the bus to head off to school. I’ve had to miss school to plow or work in our 5-acre garden. It was hard and it would have been easy for me to believe that living was more important than learning. Nevertheless, I did my homework and studied. In a class of 125, I graduated number 26. It would be another 16 years before I opened a college textbook and 12 more years until I would earn my bachelor’s degree. And it took all that time to figure out how I learned and what else could work for me other than trying to remember facts.

For a long time I believed that learning was simply remembering what was taught and doing what you were told. Teachers could be strict or nice and some would rant and rave while others were more compassionate. That’s what I thought teaching and learning was. Having said that, I see that teaching could be demonstrations, lectures, small group sessions, or (unfortunately) making me memorize, just to name a few. The teaching I enjoy the most is that instructor that can ask the right question at the right time to put me into a deeper mode of thinking or reflection.

Learning is so much more complex than simply recalling an answer and regurgitating facts. People are different, I am different, and we have brains that function similarly but so very differntly. I did not realize, until recently, that we have so much in common but learn in so many different ways.

I still prefer hands-on learning with demonstration and I still prefer to see and hear what I’m being taught versus one or the other but I have discovered within myself another method that I find equally satisfying- comprehension, to read, reflect, and understand. I also enjoy input from others as we discuss relevant issues of learning. I learn from learning about you and how you think. I discovered on-line Social Learning. I had no idea it was even out there but I enjoy it immensely.

Then I discovered that my home computer, my laptop, and my phone were part of an infrastructure of knowledge that could be harnessed and brought right to the learning part of my life. Connectivism combined with social learning and reflective questions, sprinkle in some cognitive thinking and metacognition, with a smart phone and wah lah…higher education. If we consider that knowledge is all around us in the world and not just in our heads (Wikipedia, 2011), why not learn every chance we get? We have come a long way since the blackboard, chalk, and a notebook. I have come a long way.  

 

Connectivism. (2011). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism

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