I would like to challenge you this new year to learn something new to improve your craft and organization. Two often, we become comfortable with what has worked for us in the past, and we are hesitant to try something new. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid what others think of us when we try and fail.
Great organizations become great organizations because the learn and adapt to an ever changing environment. There are many organizations and programs that failed to adapt and as a result are now extinct. Here is a list of good stores that never adapted quickly enough. These stores failed because they were content to doing it the same way.
I am interested in education. I am interested in my personal education, informal education, corporate education, extension education, higher education, non-profit education, adult education, technology in education, etc. What is fascinating is the more I read about education and learning, and the more I am involved in education and learning, the more disconnection I am finding. Dewey, Lindeman, Knowles, and others have been admonishing educators for over 80 years that the lecture method is not the best method for instruction, yet, it is the most common method in our schools today. We need to listen to their advice and make changes.
There are three areas I would like you to look at when you look for something new to try: subject matter improvement, instruction methods improvement, technology implementation improvement. As an educator, these are the three areas I consider most important. Presently, I am looking at it from the vantage point of extension. Here are some ideas you might want to consider:
- Stay abreast of changes in your field of study by subscribing to or creating a Paper.li newsletter. More.
- Reflect on what you learn using a blog or podcast.
- Improve support to your courses with performance support and job aids. More.
- Make your course more engaging by flipping your instruction. More.
- Use QR Codes to enrich your physical documents. More.
- Use tools like Evernote, Diigo, Zotero, and Dropbox to become more organized in your research. More.
- Read a book on improving your instruction.
- Read a book on implementing new technology.
- Teach a class in a way that you never have before.
- Let others know what you are reading and why. More.
- Keep an eye out for what others are doing well and benchmark the ideas. More.
- Add fun and engagement to your class through gamification. More.
- Improve your operations by creating a checklist. More.
- Make time for learning, attend a Webinar, read a book, explore a program, just do it.
One of the most frustrating things I face is when people dismiss something on hearsay instead of investigating it for themselves. I challenge you to honestly explore new methods, techniques, and technologies for yourself before dismissing them, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Make a commitment to yourself this new year to go out and learn something new. Try something new in your classes, your students will appreciate it, especially if you are not lecturing.
Stacey Roshan sent in a comment regarding the Flip your Class post I wrote. She wrote a guest blog post giving more insight on her approach to her class and the observations she has made.
You can find that post at this URL: http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-best-way-to-reach-each-student-private-school-flips-learning-547.php Take a look, nice observations.
I just finished reading an inspiring idea for teaching, reverse the process of a traditional class. In the article, The Backward Class, a teacher has reversed the sessions for lecture and homework. Basically, in the evening prior to class, Stacey Roshan has her students review videos she created on the lesson to be discussed; the students take notes on a PowerPoint handout. Then in class, she has students ask questions and works on problem sets with her oversight and assistance.
A similar idea was used at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School. Each class at the Prep School had a detailed syllabus which outline which homework problems we had to do and when they were do. They typically had to be work prior to the “lecture.” In reality, the in class period was focused on working more problems under instructor oversight. So, basically, we taught ourselves how to do the problems the night prior to class, and then in class we could ask intelligent questions regarding the assignment. At least, we hope they were intelligent.
I believe this process helped shape me into a self-directed, lifelong learner.