The Opportunities for Entrepreneurs Available in Non-Traditional Learning Methods
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Technology is a great enabler. And while it “enables” business, that process can also start earlier, at the learning stage. Technology, in fact, can make the learning process, for students and employees alike, both interactive and participatory.
Entrepreneurs who gauge this need and find a way to satisfy it will have a great business opportunity in their hands.
The reason is that interactive learning is the kind of learning that stays with students throughout their lives and helps them get better at problem-solving -- the single most important factor for becoming a great leader (according to a study by Georgia Tech). How entrepreneurs then “use” this knowledge to make lives better is up to them.
To a great extent, our schools, colleges and universities have followed the traditional mode of teaching. Their recipe-book methods are generally teacher-directed. But, research suggests that this type of teaching may not add to the knowledge base of students or be of any real value later in their lives.
What students learn through this approach serves them only until the end of the term.
The case for non-traditional teaching and learning
To achieve a true teaching and learning methodology requires non-traditional strategies like cooperative and collaborative learning. Another major aspect where centers for learning fail is in developing students’ ability to solve real-life problems.
Often, the best intentions of schools and universities to introduce non-traditional modes of teaching and learning are laid waste because the faculty hasn’t been trained in establishing non-traditional goals. Neither do they know about implementing the new methodologies, or understanding the assessment techniques needed for such strategies.
Technology, an enabler in the quest for non-traditional learning
Educational technologists have seen the need to fill these gaps laid bare by traditional curriculum-based teaching at universities, and by the unsystematic mushrooming of MOOCs. To make leaders and entrepreneurs out of high school students, people with vision saw the need to provide non-traditional teaching-learning (NTTL) to students studying at traditional centers of education.
This has become possible through the use of online tools, which target teachers, students and industry experts alike. Schoology, for one, is making educators aware of the massive importance of technology in the teaching-learning process. Schoology is a comprehensive learning-management system (LMS) that helps teachers design great content and lessons, as well as assess how students understand what they are learning. This platform is a leading example of the introduction of non-traditional teaching to educators in the traditional education field.
ePals, meanwhile uses technology to take collaborative and cooperative learning to a different level. Through this platform, students pair up and collaborate with their peers around the world, while teachers create new projects or join existing ones. A truly global online learning platform, ePals uses technology to promote meaningful teaching and learning and create a safe and secure environment for collaboration with other learners; critical thinking and problem-solving are the result.
Finally, an essential part of enabling “education everywhere” is the increased availability of books, journals and texts at hand. Ebooks on smartphones are nearly as common as traditional books on bedroom shelves these days. And, here, the app BookScanner Pro lets students add to their personal libraries while on the go. The app lets you use your mobile device to quickly and accurately capture books electronically, to be read and referenced later. You can access scanned books as pdfs or Word documents.
Gamification as an NTTL strategy
Certainly, the business world is no stranger to the benefits of gamification and its proven effects on productivity; and gamification is also an excellent way to induce learning. In fact, if you strip a game down to its bare basics, the enjoyment factor is actually based on a built-in learning process. As we progress through the various levels of a game, we are learning and solving problems to go to the next level.
Game-based learning (GBL), or gamification, is the topic of intense research in its application to the field of non-traditional learning. Games offer “authentic” problems to solve, where the student enters the virtual world, keeps progressing and eventually wins the game. This is far better than problem-based learning in a classroom, where the student is likely not motivated enough to solve a problem he or she hasn’t actually encountered.
Games need not be complex, either. Even simple ones like Tetris can augment learning (in this case, how to arrange the falling bricks in a neat order). Hexa Dots is an interesting take on the classic color-matching game, where the player has to move four dots of the same color in a line to make them disappear.
In this game, the difficulty bar is raised through the introduction of new dots after every move the player makes. This means that the player has to eliminate the dots in as few moves as possible; otherwise, new dots will block their path.
In a complex world, it is worthwhile to acknowledge the fact that traditional methods which, while by no means useless, are insufficient to cater to the rapidly changing business scenario breeding the startups of today.
Entrepreneurs are revisiting traditional methods of training and learning to assess their efficiency in developing critical thinking skills in their staffs. In that quest for "usable knowledge," technology is proving to be critical.