What is the result of a ‘good’ education?
For anyone actively involved in the sector, that’s a searching question to ask. But it’s worth confronting. To date, my articles in this publication have focused on the role of technology in HE. And this issue directly addresses the same subject.
We’ve already discussed how ICT is transforming course structures and content – from rigid and closed to flexible and open. We’ve considered where campus environments are evolving to cope: facilitating connectivity and collaboration – not quiet and contemplation. And we’ve repeated why students, faculty, commercial professionals and technology-providers must align to achieve meaningful innovation.
The one thing we haven’t covered is the one thing that won’t change – human nature. Each of us is born inclined to learn: to process information; to connect events; to share ideas; to understand consequences; to form opinions; to see patterns; to solve problems; to create value. Therein lies the difficulty of answering our opening question: education doesn’t always support instinctive learning.
In the abstract and actual sense, learning has inspired me at every stage of my career.
And I got into education because there was nothing like the experiences I had as a student – when a teacher demonstrated real passion for the craft of awakening practical discovery and creative expression in me and my peers. The ability to transfer and cultivate a love of knowledge is the greatest gift to have and offer. To paraphrase an old saying: ‘those who care teach’.
But I’ve come to see that the process of learning – and its relationship to education – is like the physical phenomenon of ‘resonance’. Or, the tendency of a system to ‘oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than others.’
Think of a playground swing: work in sync with its ‘resonant frequency’, and you’ll easily push it higher. Battle against its natural tempo, and the swing’s upward trajectory will decrease. Engaging today’s students is similar.
Everyone learns differently. And effective education is all about finding ways to embrace that. The big challenge is how – especially when technology is changing our world so much, and so fast. The task is more complicated in HE, because faulty staff are expected to spend more time driving new knowledge than refining the art of sharing it. The converse is true at the primary and secondary levels. Each group could learn from the other; but they’ll need to break out of their usual networks and forums to benefit.
The best teachers are those who guide us to the answers; the best learners are those who never stop questioning. After more than 20 years in and around education, I’m still fascinated by the challenge of making both processes more authentic, and attuned to human nature. It’s equally satisfying to feed my experiences into technology products and solutions that are designed to meet that demand.
What’s the result of a ‘good’ education? Learning. How do you measure its success? When a passion for acquiring knowledge combines with a purpose to apply it. Or in other words: helping people realise their potential.
We all remember the teachers (academic, or otherwise), who positively shaped our future. And that’s what you’re dealing with on campus every day: the next generation of leaders, thinkers, makers and doers.
How can we ensure the education they receive today brings them lasting value tomorrow? The answer is crucial. Because the result of education is not certificates, qualifications or grades – it’s something far richer: knowledge they can use.