Someone asked me whether we need a classroom (either physical or virtual) to learn. I had a very unprofessional reaction — all I could think was: what a silly question! This is not even a matter of artificial or real dilemma — the concept of restricting learning is absurd. We have been learning (first) and teaching (sharing) since prehistory. Our ancestors, learned and taught. Our dogs learn. They even help their progeny to learn! The one thing my interrogator got right was asking about learning, not teaching. Teaching is simply not important to me (even though I call myself a teacher). Learning is all that matters.
We learn to learn.
We learn to teach.
We can teach without any learning take place.
We can learn without any (formal) teaching taking place.
Ideally, we are accomplished learners. We learn from the resources around us, We discriminate between levels of information, and discard the irrelevant, uninteresting and obviously useless or false. We learn anywhere we want to, and the smartest of us are probably the best learners. Some of us learn easily, and some of us always have to learn the hard way.
Teach me a word-a-day on Twitter–I can learn it if you can teach it in 144 characters. The only reason I joined Facebook was to join the SuperCoolSchool. I learned how to knit on YouTube. I learned to speak Spanish on the street in Venezuela. And, no doubt about it, I have learned some complex, important things in classrooms. The key is not where or how. The key is appropriate use of tools and resources of all kinds for the required learning.
The only course I ever paid for and did not finish, was a text-based online course on human rights, a topic I am passionate about. I need interaction. I need engagement. Open courseware doesn’t work for me: I need classmates and meaningful discussion to explore complex intangible topics. How do you learn? I will debate endlessly if you like. Was it your teacher’s fault you got that D… or was it yours? Tell me here, or join us for Online Learning Day, 17 April.
16 April 2013