My Thought On How We Learn

How we learn? Some years earlier, many answers would be: “just from lecturers in classes, or from lab trainers”.

Such responses are not valuable anymore except in very rare cases which I believe are not involved in higher education. I think that educators and learners involved in higher education worldwide are all experiencing networked learning in both of its forms: in connection with other human beings or in relation to learning resources accessible to them or the ones they have believed are worth to be looked at.

As many would argue, that is a good because it can help learners be at the same page intellectually which to my view can result into more equal opportunities such finding jobs, economic conditions, and social live in places where there are many social, economic and cultural issues. In other places, the Net has lessened the tasks to students in non-English speaking countries. For instance, students in African French speaking countries some years earlier struggle to read and get what they want from and English text books they would find in some libraries or have a hard time have some French books that were not sold in their countries. Now they have more ways to access those resources. Though the web, they can google translate article and books, make some orders online and get them via their local postal services or services such as DHL, UPS, FedEx which are now present in some of those places.

However as there are many resources out there in the Web with different accessibility, having learners to be at the level can be challenging and worst if there is no guidance but only them interacting on their own with the materials which they have access to. In regards to this fact, one might have the following questions among many others.

How to access the best resources out there?  Are we using them in a best way and with ethic? Are the resources we have access to credible enough?

To the last question, I think the response will depend on our way of thinking which in turn is related to our culture, background social environment and experience as explained in the article what “Video Games Have to Teach Us”. t

Such questions are not raised in the case of a given course taught by an instructor even though at an individual level some preferences (face-to-face interaction, online course) can occur based on different learning styles. In such cases, thanks to the efforts of teachers who care about the impact of their teaching on their student future and who manage to do their best, each student can always find his or her path. We have the example of this wonderful and inspiring teacher in Jean Lacoste’s teaching innovation statement who has redesigned her course for the reason she has explained in these terms: “I wanted each option to support a specific learning style”. Her determination and the steps she took have resonated with her students and have led to considerable achievements which I think should be the dream of all educators.

12 thoughts on “My Thought On How We Learn”

  1. Your 3 questions are valuable. We are Ph.D. students and the research we are going to do is likely to be a topic that nobody has done before. Researching new things cannot be solved by existing knowledge alone. New resources and new methods are needed. No one will tell you directly. You will be asked to answer your three questions and your results will be tested by colleagues and experts. The best way, ethics, and credibility have no clear criteria, but I think they will be empirically established over time.

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    1. Thank you for comment on my blog. You have pointed out a very sad reality. “No one will tell you directly”. I got it and I think this fact is among the drawbacks of networked learning while using the online available resources without any guidance. I know here at Tech students can attend many courses and workshop sessions on ethic and scientific writing; get library assistance, etc that can help them navigate through the Net and get what they want without too much fear. But this is not the case for underdeveloped countries. I remember when I was doing a Master`s degree in one university in Senegal many students were asking me to share with them the content of a course on how to write a thesis. I did take that course while doing my engineer`s degree in a private school of the same university. This means some of those students who do not have a chance to take similar courses or do not have good adviser to assist them in their research will just feel good with whatever they have access through the Web with the all consequences that can result from that.

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  2. I really appreciated your connections to how radically different grad school is to the rest of our formal education. I have often felt like I am just stumbling mindlessly in grad school and its very frustrating. I’m on projects but do I really think I’m learning anything? I think it is very interesting how different this model is from high school and undergrad and I wonder why we have styled it this way. When I talk to professionals, they have often brought up how grad school taught them how to learn and systematically accomplish elements towards a common goal.

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  3. Hi Ishi, thank you for reading my blog. I think you are learning something from your project. Maybe it is just that those things are similar to those you have seen in previous experiences. Try find different resources or try to sit down with other people to get their perspective. I am pretty sure if you do that you think differently. It can be sometimes difficult if we do things on our own.

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  4. You bring up an excellent point: while the Internet has facilitated and eased access to intellectual resources around the world, interpreting those resources can be very challenging. This is especially true in more specialized fields with lots of unique terminology (jargon), which just do not translate and can be difficult to understand for even highly educated, native speakers. As you say, this challenge is why we need highly motivated educators to provide the context and explanations needed to fully understand the plethora of resources online. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Thank you for your contribution as well. And yes you are right those terminologies can also constitute limiting factors while doing research or assignment and even during and in class exam. That is why did take at here Tech courses such Food Safety and quality insurance as Biochemistry, and Food Packaging that I had earlier taken in Senegal just to get used to their specific vocabulary. Another reason for me to do so was also that I was saying to myself it will be a shame for me when I go back home and people ask me for example to translate for them or explain some protocols and I have difficulties to do that.

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  5. Hey Oumou!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog this week. The perspective you bring as an international student is extremely valuable. I think it is easy for domestic students to take for granted the resources they have in access to education and educational content, internet, and other issues related to technology and connectivity. This was a thoughtful post. I could see the shift from your first words about the status-quo of learning coming from lectures or trainers in labs to understanding that it’s about teachers who are genuinely interested in the success of their students and the power and potential of networked learners.

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  6. Hey Harrell thank you, I appreciate your contribution to my blog post of this week. Yeah I think that learning and sharing experiences are among what we all are here for and I do have no complex to talk about what I have experience or is aware of. I was lucky that my brother did pay for us to have Internet at home but that was not the case for most of the other students. Many students there, some years ago (let`s say 10) used to go to Cybercafés in campus or other places in order to have access to internet and check their emails and do research. But you know things evolve, many have access to connection in campuses for free or at home. Better, students can by what they call “passs” from different telecom agencies and have connection even in remote areas that have electricity.

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  7. For as much as I use Google to translate words in/to other languages (I only use it for words, not phrases, as I understand Google Translate is quite literal and may not get the sentence structure just right), it’s interesting I don’t give more thought to how networked learning may help students overcome language barriers. Especially in their written assignments, perhaps even to interpret the prompts given in assignments. This actually makes me wonder if it should be a given that technology can be used in class. Also, online shopping — major plus!

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    1. Yeah Google translate is not that good in translating whole sentences. However networked learning to me can help in language barrier as you can interact with people in person or on online that can help you better understand some concepts. And if it is not an in person interaction but you on your own using resources, I think that the fact that of using Google Translate even it is just to get the meaning of one word is helping you somehow to overcome language barrier.

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  8. You are on point. I would say, how we learn is dependent on our social, cultural and economic background – that is for both educators and learners. In fact, I agree that people’s background and experiences may influence how they learn. In general, I think the learning environment such as classroom setting, size, and diversity of the class, levels of interactions between students, and faculty may also affect how we learn. While networked learning varies in forms and means, I feel that the use and applicability of information-based, digital-enabled networked learning are highly dependent on access to the internet.

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  9. I agree with you that classrooms setting and all the other factors you have mentioned may have impact on how we learn. But I think the most determinant factors that are involved on how we process the information we are receiving now are our previous experiences and the soci0-cultural environment we have evolved in, not the ones in which we are in or experiencing now . Thank you for your contribution to my blog post.

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