Activating students. And e-Learning.

My start in education

In 1996 Olga, principal part-time MBA-course (Fontys deeltijd-HEAO) asked me if I could organise an IT-course. I prepared and start, being a bit uncertain. But I filled the whole blackboard. Plus flip-overs. And showed quiet some slides at my first IT-lesson. The students rested quiet. I felt I had been telling them quite a lot. I remember from this IT-lesson, that I felt less quite satisfied. Feeling a bit more comfortable than while preparing this first IT-lesson. I felt I rather gained some experience in different IT-projects since 1983. Deception came when evaluations forms were filled out by students. Students indicated they had been learning poorly. Olga explained me that this was not very unexpected. She explained me that it is inevitable. Being a teacher is a specialism she told me. And not to be learned from a book, or in a crash course.

My training in education

So I started taking a course myself. On didactic skills. What Olga said, I learned little by little. Being a teacher is an specialism indeed. One has to learn it. Regarding the enormous amount of literature on education, I sure will not try to give a crash course in this single blog post. I will stick to some observations.

Focus on problem a.k.a. case studies

Among a lot of different methods in my view the last decades education shifts more and more, from telling about theories, trying to get students be busy solving situations. No passing through a lot of theory. But hands-on. This I see becomes common practise nowadays. And there is much more. Only some observations you’ll see below.

Some experiences with motivation

Motivation of student is a subject where writers have been filling libraries with. I will stick my personal experience. In the Netherlands it is more and more promoted that everybody gets a final degree. Plus Dutch government has applied a finance system where school are being financed on ratio of the number of final degrees being achieved by students. I do not know the exact figures, but let’s say a 33% of the total sum per student is made available at the beginning of a students his study. When this student successfully gets a final degree, the other 66% is financed to the school. (This finance system was implemented in 2000 by VVD-minister Loek Hermans) So there’s an incentive that all students will be getting a final degree. And preferably these final degrees as quick as possible. Students leaving a school without final degrees, results in less money for the school. Where the costs do not lower. I learned about this the hard way. In 2002 I was assigned coach for a student’s last project. Where we let students let find a final project themselves. He could not find a project himself. I suggested an organisation for him. He worked quiet lousy for this organisation. And at the moments he had to show progress in the project I told him that it was not of sufficient quality. I judged that he could not pass for this project. That was somewhere half way the project, as you I am convinced that a teacher has to tell bad news half way, not at the end. As at the end a student can not improve any more. Then he said something quiet remarkable: “Sir, you do know very well that I will get my degree, any how.” It became an issue which I reported to the school management. And in the end, the management, organised a final judgement-seance, where I was banned. This student was being told that he did a minimal job. Plus he got his final degree! So for this student the final degree was his motivation. Not to learn. Motivations can be different, for different people. Unluckily this student was not the only one I encountered my career. There have been several students who did really below the level which I normaly take for minimal effort. But again and again the school management urged us teachers, to look at the student again, and in the end they all got a final degree. (Needless to say that this has an influence on general quality as a whole.) Motivation from within a person him or herself. It is one of the success factors to really start to learn something. Some knowledge what one can reproduce. And fit into one’s own situation in future. For this reason I more and more started to try get motivation as clear as possible, at the beginning of every educational process.

IMG_2023 640pix_width
In red : start of this workshop is noting down students their motivation : what do the want to achieve, following the workshop. This text is being discussed carefully.
trainende wifisoft
In this workshop motivations were gathered before the workshop. Using a web form. Which we studied carefully during the workshop, showing them on screen.

Successful education needs a lot more

Like in workshops as pictured below. They all have to do with an attempt to have students in an active state. A lot of issues will not be addressed here. I would like to show you the way I have seen e-learning can contribute. In order not only understand something a the moment of hearing it. But also be able to reproduce the knowledge at the moments in future, when students want to apply the knowledge.

yoeri
So often I encountered fanatic, wise open source experts. Looking at the participants here, I ask myself: how much will they be able to reproduce, at those moments in future they will actually need the knowledge?
trainende floris
This situation I like more. This trainer is giving instructions, the participant (on the right) tries this knowledge, on-the-spot, hands-on

So how can e-learning help?

If motivation is established enough. If courses are organised in a way students are active theirselves. Then it helps to add information technology. Often referred to as e-learning. E-learning is more than digitalize books. E-learning helps if it activates students. With a lot of different means. For example user guides where students can SEE how a task can be done. After this it helps students to grow competent in certain task, if they can actually TRY it. A third form is that students can do a test, in order to check if they KNOW it. The 3 links to be added above are going to show the different modes, in this example link the first “SEE it”-mode is shown (opening the demo will take some moments) – – –

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roel guldemond

I like improving added value of information systems. Or cycling. Either be in a garden.

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