There was a time when punctuality was a good indication of commitment to school. Sometimes we are too busy with other commitments, so why not do school in the comfort of our home?
Some people are not well suited for the typical classroom experience. I am one of them. I have never been able to sit still in class. I never have and never will. My slight hyperactivity in the classroom is exacerbated by a boring instructor. And most instructors are boring (sorry guys). Of all the classes available in school, I always found the most interesting topics to be explored in the maths and sciences. These are the things I want to do. A thread on Enotes discusses problems with bored students and how to remedy this. On this topic the poster Kiwi explains that boredom in the classroom results from a lack of engagement with the students. Unfortunately these fields require a great amount of theory before the student can engage in the subject. Due to the inherent nature of maths and science, it will take patience on the students’ part before they can apply their own learned theories and conclusions in the subject. I therefore struggled the most with them. I enjoyed them notwithstanding, as when the theory is learned these fields facilitate the most interaction with the students. But it was too late before I could contribute to class, so I was lost.
Image from “Math & God – do they go together?”
Though passing high school was no difficult task, doing so with any kind of honours and speciality was. My course marks were mediocre at best, and the type of classes I had completed were scattered all over the place.
Aye, there’s the rub.
In the Ontario Secondary School curriculum, students are taught that if they are smart, then they are off to university. Not as smart… college. I say smart meaning the very vulgarity the word represents. Don’t qualify for college? then work. Your mental capacity determines what doors are open to you in life. This capability is measured simply with a number called a final grade. The irony to all this… we all work in the end. Understanding this begins to erode the concept of our graded destiny taught to us by our teachers and guidance counsellors. Albeit the privileged of us are honoured to postpone this inevitability. And in many cases at the expense of the learned not being able to find a job after school. According to my past guidance counsellors, all I am qualified to do on paper, is work. They were so wrong.
At first glance this looks like a disaster for those of us who are on the lower end of the totem pole. So during our adult life, how do we recover from the limits imposed on us by our high school marks?
Image from “Effective adult education”
Don’t forget to play with some Massive Open Online Courses. Through Ontario’s Independant Learning Center, students can complete and upgrade their Ontario high school courses through an online distance format. The methods of delivery on many of these courses offered are virtually indistinguishable to the way course content is presented in MOOCs. Each class is $30 which compared to current tuition costs is virtually free. We have up to a year to complete each course, so this is very accommodating for users who work full time.
These courses are the latest new flavour to online distance learning. They encourage social networking and building a community dedicated to learning with professors and students alike. Best of all, most MOOCs have few prerequisites as opposed to conventional distance learning courses that are gated. This turns off a lot of prospective students as they are required to complete fundamental classes, some unrelated to their area of interest. In turn, this allows users of the MOOCs to sample topics to see how interested they are in the particular field of study without satisfying those prerequisites. These courses can also act as a foot-in-the-door for post secondary institutions; proof on paper that mature and open learning students are interested in a particular field of study.
Video is written and narrated by Dave Cormier explains MOOCs.
Due to the remote access nature of these classes, there is a burning question to the validity of online credits. Are they as good as in-classroom credits? Their reputability is often debated. However, less than a year ago the University of Maryland University College announced it would be the first in the state’s university system to offer credit earned through MOOCs.
Though I have participated a great deal in Khan Academy, I don’t expect to attain any external credits or bragging rights. The badges earned on Khan Academy are somewhat akin to the honours that can be earned with cub scouts or cadets, where that particular member can join the military later in life with no transfer rewards earned. The site has some very mature content that is offered well into the university level. I firmly believe if an interviewer in a future job looks at some of the achievable badges on Khan Academy with no merit, there would have to be a lack of education for the interviewer’s part.
Image from “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE?”
A great comprehensive list of MOOCs is offered on the site called CourseTalk, many of which are a joint effort with leading post secondary institutions. Some offer a degree credit. So in the past year we’ve see a massive explosion of MOOCs. Some classes offered with degree credit are through MIT, Harvard, and University of Toronto.
We are all seeing a paradigm shift in the way education is conducted. School is becoming more egalitarian and free, and ultimately available to the mainstream audience. With little if any entry cost, anyone can afford MOOCs. There was a time when a student would be required to physically attend a school and that the student to must put life on hold for the duration of the class(es). These old-fashioned brick and mortar schools are not for everyone.
When I am at home I find I learn better blasting music while having a few corona beers and coffee. This keeps my cognitive distractions to a minimum, which allows me to focus on homework. These are things I can not do in the classroom. I can learn my own way, in my own home.
In an article posted for US News by Devon Haynie. She talks to us how over half of the students who enroll in MOOCs are from outside the United States. Due to the nature of these courses offered, MOOCs will often accept students right away upon enrolment, but this may add question to their integrity of actually attempting to complete the class. There is nothing to lose for signing up, although it’s been observed few students complete MOOCs. Also due to some of these courses being offered from leading ivy league institutions may effect the applicant numbers of other reputable schools.
I have been out of high school for eight years. In the past six months I went from no classes completed to having completed one high school calculus and vectors, and two non-core university credits for a B.Sc. in physics with the University of Guelph. In terms of education, I feel I have had the most improvement in the past six months than the last eight years, owing to online distance education. Working with MOOCs can change the way we think and produce an addictive habit of accomplishments. MOOCs offer more than a credit in some cases; they offer a community of like-minded individuals to take on challenges together. This is for professors, teachers assistants, and students alike. More school to follow.