This essay intends to be a seed to inspire discussions on the issues and methods of learning in real life, also how web2 can help us. So far, it is by no means a complete list of how to lean in real life.
For a moment, let’s forget about schools. Free your thoughts. Let’s think about learning itself. Let’s think about what we really want to learn and how we can learn in real life.
Without school, I guess now you can really think about what you need to learn in life.
Real life is definitely a much better learning environment than schools. What are the issues of learning in real life? I guess many people might find it difficult to focus on learning something in real life. They feel their energy is too scattered. I think being aware of what topics you are learning in a certain period of time might help you concentrate your mind. We actually are interested in learning several topics in a certain time of our lives. We experience various aspects of those topics through our daily activities. If we can orchestrate our efforts in those topics, expand our experience and knowledge in those topics day by day through our various activities, we are accomplishing the thing that is called learning. I have an online note-making system that will allow you to accomplish the task of orchestrating daily activities into conscious learning efforts. Furthermore, this note-making system will allow you to connect your experience and knowledge in different topics, and thus through knowledge collision, you can learn better and discover new knowledge. Other features of the note-making system will allow you to refine your experience, filter out random thoughts, search past experience, and share knowledge with other people. Basically through using the note-making system, you learn how to learn in real life.
Many people feel they don’t know what to learn. First of all, they don’t know what they want to learn. Secondly, even they know what they want to learn, they don’t know how to learn. This first issue is only because we are made passive by school system. We were naturally curious when we were children. I was surprised how curious the children are when I went to an elementary school. However, I witnessed their curiosity killed by the classroom teacher moment by moment while the teacher constantly kept telling the kids don’t do this and don’t do that. As for the second issue, I feel if various kind of knowledge is easily accessible, people know how to learn by themselves. An internet knowledge system that classifies knowledge into different categories on different levels certainly will help people easily find knowledge they just need at the moment. A system that helps people build up the whole picture of knowledge and navigate through them with maximum flexibility is very vital for learning. Being able to read very fast and navigate through knowledge very fast is very important for learning, especially when you learn in real life you are always faced with tremendous amount of things to read. In the past years through my research, I developed a system that can render knowledge according to patterns and allow people to navigate through the knowledge with maximum flexibility, zoom in and zoom out as they wish and jump to any part that they feel currently interested, learn to a certain degree quickly, go back to the whole picture and jump to another part that they feel interested.
The note-making system and the knowledge rendering system, I feel, will be the key elements of the learning platform based on web2.0.
The best part of learning in real life instead of in school is that finally you are not bound by those meaningless homework and exams anymore. You have more free time to do things that you want to do and really learn things in the process of doing. If you have done a lot of activities and proved yourself in those activities, who will need those artificial tests administered by schools anyway? Those tests were never able to evaluate the true knowledge. Social networking websites such as meetup of course help people to come together for various activities. Learning in a community is a very efficient way of learning. Sudbury Valley model is essentially unschooling in a supportive learning community.
To build up such a learning community, I would like to see two things happen. One is a web based tutor searching system, and the other is to let corporation post their various training programs online so people can find projects to do.
These two things are what we don’t have right now, but I feel they can be made possible through web2.0. They are vital for building up a strong learning community that will eventually kills schools (I mean schools that prison people for many years).
Once we build up a strong learning community and make learning easy, people will want to learn. People are now passive learners because they have been failed too many times and for too long. Everyone has a wonderful childhood. But most of us have a very boring passive adult life. We don’t have the same kind of fun we used to have as children. That is because as we grow up, we didn’t improve our ability accordingly. Without that improved ability matching your adulthood, you are not suited to play games on the higher level. All kinds of social problem arise due to this. Now with the new learning community and learning platform, it is time for us to learn and grow our ability again, so we can again play happily as we were when we were children.
Below are some other tips for learning in real life:
It is always better to utilize different media for learning. For example, to learn software, I read books, I read online, I read magazines. Different types of media have different characteristics, suited for learning various different things.
When I learn from books, what I would like to do is to go to a bookstore, rushing through all books talking about the subject I am currently interested in. Find some good books on that subject. Read to a certain degree, then pick up another book to read. I love to have all the books before me so I can build up the whole picture very quickly and choose freely which book to read from time to time. Of course, this kind of learning can be moved to web as well. For example, provide all the books online. People only pay monthly fee, and they can navigate and read books as much as they want.
I also use web to find out which books are good books. For example, Amazon.com has been very helpful for me to find out good books on a certain subject. Its book review, wish list, and the new tagging feature all help me to easily find good books on a subject.
Very importantly I found that Internet can be very efficient for extensive reading to build up the base and the whole picture in a subject very quickly. This has been very true in my learning of software. I now intend to apply it to my liberal arts study.
This article about Sudbury Valley model provides very good insights into the true nature of learning. http://www.thebeachschool.org/articles/greenberg.html
I will stop here. I want to welcome you to join me in the discussion of how to learn in real life. The world needs it.