Students are distracted more than ever in the classroom. They have emails to check, Facebook to browse, and to be very honest they just aren’t captivated in the classroom anymore. Students used to be much more respectful of the professor behind the podium, now they’re riddled with social media. Although Joshua Cooper Ramo believes that this isn’t because of the advancement of technology, but the shift in attitude towards college and authority figures in general. He is the author of No Visible Horizon in which comes from the time he was a stunt pilot. Some would say that from that experience he loves zooming out to get an aerial view of problems.
He argues in his newest book, The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, that we’re in a time of change as significant and disruptive as the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution. Old Power centers are becoming less important than the new digital monsters like Facebook and Google, and computer algorithms are doing things that even their designers can’t predict.
He believes leaders today are making continual mistakes by assuming what worked in the old system, can work in this new networked era.
Simply as an example, we used to be what our resumes said we were, however now it’s who you are connected to. He believes in order to engaged students, the system must change. University and college leaders must take the reins and create a new system to accommodate for this fast-paced network era.
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With virtual reality on the rise, it’s not surprising that it would make its way into the medical field. At Stanbridge College in southern California, a new virtual reality lab is giving students an opportunity to witness and interact with holographic 3D models for their medical training. The lab is equipped with computers that contain software from zSpace, Cyber Science 3D and Cyber Anatomy 3D.
Students from the college’s Nursing, Occupational and Physical Therapy, and Veterinary Technology programs now have access to more than a thousand options of different models ranging from the cellular level up to human or animal bodies and body systems. According to a press release, “Using a stylus and 3D glasses, students can virtually ‘lift’ an object off of the zSpace screen, manipulating and adjusting it to see it at different angles and magnify it for fine details. Students can dissect layers and components of a model for a deeper understanding of interconnectivity.”
President of the college, Yasith Weerasuriya states that their goal as a school is to give their students every opportunity to learn in a way that fits their needs, and the lab is the perfect way to do that. She also states that: “We are very pleased to partner with zSpace Education Systems and expand our classroom technology initiative by adding virtual reality technology to our existing complement of high-fidelity human and canine simulation manikins, synthetic and real human cadavers, and world-class skills labs. This extension of opportunities for kinesthetic learning gives our students an advantage as they prepare for professional licensure and employment.”
Both students and instructors alike state that the models jump off the screen and into their hands, making it a valuable virtual resource to use. Students now have a better opportunity to understand the complex anatomy and illness of their patients.
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Learning. When you have the opportunity to watch learning – in any context – it’s really a beautiful thing. These past few weeks, there has been a lot of learning happening in our family. And it has been an amazing thing to watch. Our young son is discovering that the letters he knows (for the most part) are the same letters that are used to make words. This discovery has opened up a whole new world to him – and he now sees letters and words everywhere. From the backseat of the car I hear “Mama, what does that sign say?” From the bathroom I hear “Mama, there’s a K on that box!” From the bedroom (while he should be sleeping) I hear, “Mama, you have an H in your name. You make by going down, down and across. Shoop.”
All this learning has really had me reflecting on learning. More specifically, the love of learning. We are natural learners. We are naturally curious. When we are young we want to learn about every and anything. Yet, as we get older – something happens. School becomes a place not where we learn – but where we are educated. And for many, it is at this point that the love of learning is lost.
In a recent blog post, I wrote about how classroom furniture should be seen as an instructional technology. And it should be invested in. I obviously still believe that. But it also has me wondering how we ever got to the point where education overtook learning. When rows became the norm. When we needed to call out ‘active learning’ as revolutionary, rather than it being the norm – as it was in preschool.
I think in it all, it makes me realize (again) that while space and furniture and wall color matter – what matters most is a teacher that can find ways to instill or rejuvenate a love of learning in our students. How amazing would it be if we could create a culture where students came to us ready to be ‘educated’ and ‘job ready’ – but left us as curious, engaged lifelong learners (to be totally cliché). I truly believe that this type of learning can happen literally anywhere. In a fixed classroom. In a flexible classroom. In a classroom with nothing but 4 white walls and a clock.
Just think of what could happen if students walked into a classroom not to be educated, but to learn.
When teaching online first started in colleges, people mused that competition for college students would one day be global. A student would be able to sit down at a computer and take a course literally from anywhere. This may have seemed crazy at the time, however now it’s become a reality. A global competition for higher education is here, and some of the more famous universities were the last to get into the act.
Although MOOC’s feel somewhat similar to an entire different entity to a University, educators actually believe that online learning does not explicitly mean just MOOC’s. There is a broad range of digital opportunities besides MOOC’s.
Although, not all universities believe that converting to online learning is a good thing. Specifically, universities that are deemed higher levels of education, don’t have to worry about their traditional schooling to be affected. They own a certain level of significance and awarded for their traditional education. They have a certain reputation that will help their traditional way of educating to thrive and be consistent. However, schools that are lower or middle-level tiers are more nervous. They don’t necessarily want to take away from the traditional aspect.
They now have to put more effort into this digital side in order to run with the pack, will the traditional side suffer? This all depends on the university and the course of actions they put in. However, this stigma can make universities falter in putting more resources into online learning as they are still attempting to make themselves known among the bigger schools.