Have you changed since 2003?
Cast your mind back a decade:
- Do you remember what you were wearing?
- What music you were listening to? Were you a fan of the Black Eyed Peas ‘Where is the love’? (It was #1 in 13 countries and was the top seller in the UK)
- How you were listening to that music? Cassette, CD, Mini Disc, DAT? Perhaps you were you an early adopter of the iPod?
- Can you remember how you set your VHS video?
- What car were you driving?
- What did you think about the invasion of Iraq?
- Were you worried about SARS?
The point is, things change; attitudes change, tastes change, technology improves, assumptions and beliefs alter.
Does this mean that what we did, wore and said a decade ago was worse or wrong? Of course not. Does this mean that everything we do now is better? Not necessarily. But change comes about because of factors such as better understanding, better technology, more efficient practices and evolving demand.
Are you from a generation that feels privileged to have attended university, or do you come from a time when you feel that accessing high quality learning as and when you want to is something of a right? The evolution of access to teaching and resource giving people the ability to learn is one of the most exciting developments of recent years. Education is empowerment. Consider the impact Mulala Yousafzai has had and continues to have around the world. There are countless articles that we could point to about her quest, but this one in The Guardian gives an excellent overview and her book is well worth a read too.
Education is a continuous process: life is a learning journey.
Technological advances mean that we can offer access to education and training in flexible and adaptable ways that were almost unimaginable just a few years ago. This change will have a profound effect on society.
For some people the debate is about face-to-face teaching versus online learning with one of the mainstays of the argument for face-to-face teaching being that to lose the physical interaction removes the ability for a teacher to impart knowledge at the right pace and level. Real time adjustments are made as a reaction to the implicit feedback from the class. We don’t argue against face-to-face teaching as a valuable, even necessary part of the mix. We do suggest that it is just a part of the jigsaw however, not the whole picture.
By way of a slightly off the wall illustration, we’d like you to imagine a picturesque country road in the summer. Classic cars from the every decade of the twentieth century can be seen on roads in the UK at weekends in summer on their way to rallies, or just out having fun around the lanes. Cars are on a continuous improvement trajectory: they are safer, quieter and more efficient as each year passes, but that doesn't stop the classics being desirable, and in many cases valuable, things. As another example, beautifully bound printed books are things of timeless quality and can be highly prized, even though digital versions are cheaper and more accessible. Inspirational teachers delivering passionate lessons are often a tipping point in interest for a student, despite the fact that the same facts may be found online. The issue is to find the balance between what we keep and cherish and what we replace and embrace.
Are you familiar with the story of Murray Barr? Written as an article for The New Yorker, the story by Malcolm Gladwell, 'Million Dollar Murray' forms part of his book What the Dog Saw: and other adventures.
Gladwell tells the story of a down and out with alcohol addiction problems. The cost of doing nothing other than moving him on from street to street, via hospital and police custody is $100,000 a year. Over a decade, that makes him a million dollar vagrant.
Changing attitudes and giving the homeless their own home costs money, but the cost of changing the attitude from one of 'society has always thought that would be unfair' to one of 'perhaps its unfair to the taxpayers not to', is something that Gladwell managed to turn from an academic research paper he came across into a compelling story that caught the imagination of many cities, reduced homelessness and saved money.
The point of highlighting this story is to suggest that just because we’ve always done something in a particular way doesn’t necessarily make it the only or indeed the best way. Change sometimes comes in the most unexpected ways and places and then we have a habit of all agreeing that the change was logical and even obvious. Making the change is far from easy however, irrespective of how logical or apparently obvious it is.
In conclusion, when it comes to education and training, as with everything else, things change, attitudes change and expectations change. Good luck embracing change and we hope to meet you learning online as part of the mix of your learning journey soon.