Why Learning? An invitation to transform education.

Photo of a woman graduating from University

Motivation drives our choices. And solutions.

The devastating, mind & heart-blowing, covid-centered times we’re living have triggered the so-very necessary change in the educational system. Schools close, browsers open, clouds are overwhelmed, a generalized “what am I going to do?” or “How am I supposed to…?”, or even a “No way we can do…”. I love it. Change. Just like seasons, like natural evolution, like birth, transformation, discovery, excitement, newness, fear, fun. Wow.

Time. It’s time to reflect, rethink, risk, and have some fun; disturb the stale waters of education, and get some excitement back.

Here’re some unedited thoughts to spark your neurons:

Why Learning? Part 1. Degrees wanted. We witness extrinsic motivation in education when a person wants to earn a degree to gain access to a higher degree, a nicer or better paying job, or a happy parent or partner, amongst many other possibilities. For those, I suggest the QuizzLearn University. A fully online, asynchronous, no teaching, just a repository-like environment open 24/7. In it, the degree’s-specific QuizLearn Complete Collection, to help prepare degree-seekers through multiple choices and knowledge gathered from returns on errors, an online repository of related information in all formats (video, audio, etc.), a personal learning environment they help create, a personalized and efficient adaptable path, to go from QuizzLearn to their desired accreditation.

Why Learning? Part 2. Network. There was a time that the only way to meet like-minded and influential people (faculty, students, VIP guests) was by sharing the same moment and context (i.e., pursuing an MBA at Stanford University or NYU gave you a unique trust network that would serve as speed-lead to future job and growth opportunities). Extrinsic motivation, attending top institutions to gain ROI connections. But this is no longer the case. We find amazing faculty, students, inspirational talks online, and reachable! Everyone is, literally, a click away. The challenge is that we are overwhelmed by the existing massive collection of stories, almost the whole world is online. How can we give “networking” value to students in this covid and post-covid times? I suggest institutions set up online Challenges that Matter, a call for the local or world community to share specific needs, to be tackled, voluntarily and maybe for semester credit, in diverse groups of 3-5 people (from different majors/disciplines). Small groups in joint effort generates value connections, while finding purpose with a value driven goal. It’s about meaningful connections and shared experiences that real networking takes place.

Why Learning? Part 3. Joy. With intrinsic motivation, the learner pays attention and interest because the story, the experience, the shared information, satisfies them, makes them feel excited, interested, and yes, motivated! It is the good tale, the mystery unraveled, the solving of a meaningful puzzle that drives curiosity, enthusiasm, and thirst for more. Yet intrinsic motivation is mostly found outside the classrooms, in conversations and smaller groups. It is then that we see the light in the storyteller’s eyes, how the world around us seem to disappear when we’re listening to an amazing chronicle, when we’re engaged in a sweet challenge, abducted by curiosity and magic, and fun, fearless. So I suggest institutions create subject-centered challenges that can be tackled by small groups of students, with the guidance of an expert/teacher/professor, challenges that involve experts beyond institutional walls, the community. Joy happens when we make learning meaningful, purposeful and, when we, courageously, break down the walls that limit the joy of learning.

So what do I believe schools should do during Covid-times and in the future?

1. Don’t do in the classroom what gets better results online. Just because you’ve done this for so long does not mean it’s the best for learner’s success and/or motivation, be it a degree, ROI contacts, or thirst for knowledge.

2. Offer existing premises as a concept lab for learners and your community to get together, in small groups, with or without mentors/guides, to capture challenges that matter, and help create solutions for these.

3. Help build an expertly curated online collection of content, to help learners understand the diverse subjects. Focus on quality vs quantity. The role of the educator, the teacher, the mentor, is to help pave this stimulating and thrilling path to learning, and assist in the process (i.e. offering online office hours, asynchronous responses to comments/questions, face to face participation when prompted, in or outside the classroom, help gather inspirational material, etc.).

4. Transform. Identify the storytellers, the enthusiastic and vocational teachers, those who care and have purpose, and assign them “role model” and “expert repository” roles. Identify the unmotivated, uncaring and/or uninterested ones and assign them “quizz-creating” roles. Identify the motivated staff and people in and outside the walls, and assign them “challenges-related” roles. Transform clearly, and gently, and don’t forget to act inclusively, transform for all.

Thanks for reading. Much love.

Photo by Juan Ramos on Unsplash