Better User Experience Podcast #33: The Future of Learning

Whoa Boy!  Ben pitches the softball of topics, Learning on the ‘net, and I take a mighty cut at it.  We engage in our usual ranging conversation the better part of two hours.  You’ll notice some emotion in my voice because of 1) Coffee and 2) I’m passionate about teaching and learning on the web. We cuss alot.

Get this, we start talking about The Hunger Games [SPOILER ALERT – skip around minutes 18 to 21] and Katniss Everdeen.  We call her a very bad name, which I can’t even type [minute 9].  That’s how we start. And, it goes down from there.

We are definitely going from completely goofy to completely deep.  The first topic is Empathy and the thin veil of empathy that only slightly covers our national pastime of hate and ‘link bait’, gotcha headlines.

And, to play along with the link bait thing – We spend a few minutes talking about The Hunger Games and how we really don’t like the main Character Katniss.  She’s a … , nope still can’t type it.  She’s messed up and has some issues.  Suzanne Collins is a master storyteller to make us love this strange character, who doesn’t really change throughout the series.  Money quote is “Anger isn’t a long term solution”. Ugh, enough of The Hunger Games.

On to learning… Can empathy be taught? How did we get here – a nation that only pays lip service to empathy?  It turns out that the Mind and Life Institute has tried to answer these questions – See the Destructive Emotions.  Connecting to emotions and be quieting the mind can be tough – like the last minutes of Yoga class, where people break down and cry.  Where do we connect to emotions in America?  Is it only Yoga that covers the spiritual wellness of America?  Church and Yoga?  … And, this point I take the conversation off the tracks with a story about the Berrymore movie FireStarter, filmed in Wilmington NC- WHAT WHAT !

On to the learning… [min 26]

Artisthouse Music, a media warehouse of ‘Shop Talk’ for the music industry, … I explain some of my experience with Udacity  [min 28].  Based on my wide varied educational experience, I feel that the new breed are rebuilding online education from the ground up, without the baggage of traditional education outlets.  It’s working because they are so close the problem – they need good computer scientists and they see the very real problems of traditional CS training.  Access is the big one. But, quality is another.

I’m confident that innovation and reform will come from the online educational startups.

Thus begins the ranty ranging conversations that people know us for.  Here are few questions that arise (maybe answered) during the show.

  • When did ‘many to many’ communication begin on the web?  Is web 2.0 a replacement for university structure?
  • Are you an Idiot when you come school? Do you become a professional in spite of the college structure?  Are Universities a job factory?  Where is the individual attention on campus?  How is identity created and supported?  A particle in the system?  Uni quantify the experience with abstract metrics. Basically we are talking about the user experience of the face to face, college structure.
  • Empowered, ‘free-range’ learners vs factory-farmed students.  Action based education vs Knowledge units education.  [ :50]
  • Conferences are a good model of a learning group.  ‘Activating together’ is key to learning in a group.  ‘Don’t prioritize your plan.  Prioritize your connection with the group'[1:03]
  • Speaking directly to the instructional technologist, [1:06]
  •  Classrooms are competitive.  Grades based on an interview with the professor.  [1:11]

… And the rants and cursing and gnashing of teeth begin in earnest.  Ben and I talk it all over. Listen in – away from work or with headphones on.  Enjoy!

People and Things mentioned:

 Mind and life instituteTrain your mind, change your brain and Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

Shane Baptista – UNCW teaching and learning consultant, and mentor to Ben and I.

Stephen Downes and George Siemens – Working on new learning theory and epistemology

Jim Groom: DS106 for life and practical application of new learning theory.

John Taylor Gatto: Critical thinker concerning the nature of our schools and the reform movement (And, a nasty ass honey badger)

Udacity and David Evans: Background on the eLearning program I’m attending as a student

UNCW Master’s of Instructional Technology program: My ISD graduate school (they are NOT responsible for any of my opinions expressed in the podcast.)

Protein folding game – crowd-sourcing work

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