As I read through the various approaches to learning, the common word I found is “Learning“. Be it project based, problem based, challenge based, place based, paper based or activity based! and that is what I believe to be the crux of an educator’s goal. We want the learning to take place in our learning spaces. We want our students to learn and do that in a way where they understand their learning styles and adapt to different methods to suit those learning styles. We as educators are always discovering new methods, testing them, refining them and then presenting them to the learners as another extra tool in their arsenal to choose from.
It is amazing to see how old these approaches to learning, except challenge based learning, are and in how many ways they have the been tried and tested, sometimes successfully and at other times failing miserably. Wikipedia says it was John Dewey who coined the idea of “learning by doing” back in 1897 and the”problem based learning’ technique was developed in 1960s at McMaster University Medical School in Canada. It made me wonder why these approaches to learning did not become widespread phenomenon and why only now they are being recognised as a ‘useful’ and pragmatic approach in comparison to the conventional paper based and directed learning styles. A page about PBL on Buck Institute of Education‘s website starts explain PBL by saying “Project Based Learning’s time has come” and that summarises my point of view on this topic i.e. the theory was developed way way before the circumstances were right for it. Says something about John as well as world’s religious adherence to industrial method of education. Reading through the history of “challenge based learning” it seems that Apple decided to give a new ‘touch’ to the theories of the past in approaches to learning and modify them enough to call it their own invention!
Again, as I expressed in my last post, I feel and am starting to confirm it through the reading material in this course that technology is only an evolution in terms of teaching methodologies and support techniques. It seems to be a new support system which has helped bring forward some new methods, and in this case some old learning methodologies developed years ago. Suddenly, educators and researchers realise how the learning methods developed ages ago can benefit the learners when supported by technology. Sir Ken Robinson, in his TED Talk speaks about the different ways in which people learn and how we should respect and adopt them. He puts forward his thoughts on this topic in a very eloquent way and I agree with him totally that the educational model needs to change, incorporating all the methodologies which have been put forward including the PBLs and CBL and balance between all those methods should be found with each method’s recognised strengths and weaknesses. A teacher’s job should be to assist and guide the students in choosing the right tool and method according to the learning goal and student’s own personalised learning style incorporating technology where applicable.