Recently I did some research on how comtemplative methodologies and skills are used in educational setting. I am glad to find out that many adcademic and research intitutes are engaged in bringing the comtemplative methodologies and skills to learning and teaching. There are a lot of research going on. Some have developed courses that are taught in ways that are centered around comtemplative learning. Some used comtemplative practices to help students achieve active and deeper learning.
But I haven’t found any of them leverage the power of software and internet in doing all these, not mention doing it in a systemic way. I think that is why the research here at open source learning is very unique. Furthermore, my approach is more about solving the problem. Even though I tried to have a whole understanding of learning and teaching on the theoretical basis and tried to build up a theorectical system, it is still for the purpose of solving the problem. Also to me, contemplative or feeling of the space, is not just helping learning, actually it is the center of learning and that is the original face of learning.
Below I will talk a little of how this comtemplative tool and corresponding learning platform can combine practice/experience and knowledge building in a systemic way.
It is a self-learning tool. It can be used by individuals to help them learn by themselves. It can also be used in school for teacher-led courses. You can also use it for peer learning in a learning group.
For example, in the case of teacher-led courses, the teacher can outline the knowledge in the subject area. Sample phenomenons or experiences in this area, and how students can practice in their daily lives to experience various aspects of it. The students can also view the teachers’ personal learning notes to get an idea of this learning area. The teacher can also show the kind of tags students can use to make notes of their learning experiences. And then students should try various things on their own in their daily lives to gain experiences in various aspects of the area. In the course sessions, the teacher can have the students show and tell what they have explored. The simplest form of that is to go through each experience s/he has collected and explains it. More complex forms can be making knowledge frames from the notes made. The teacher should help the students analyze their experiences and teach them how to synthesize them. So basically learners are still playing the major role of learning, and they do self-learning. The teacher only leads them to explore the field.
So the teachers should be those who really have learning experiences in the field, and have a complete map of the knowledge. S/he should be able to describe the knowledge or the things to be learned in the area, and s/he should be able to break it into several small modules that students can practice in and accumulate related experiences. The students can try whatever resources out there to learn by themselves. But their learning experiences and collected learning material can be reflected in this twitter-like snippet knowledge system. By promoting the students to form a habit of self-reflection and consciously exploring knowledge and gaining the skills, students learn the important skills of how to learn.
So with this twitter-like snippet system, the way of teaching in school will be dramatically different from the past. The twitter-like snippet knowledge system makes it easy to carry out the kind of teaching where the students are at the center of learning and exploring by themselves and the teacher can guide the students in combining their experiences from practice together with construction of the knowledge system in the area. We hope that more people can try this and together we can come up with more standard and systemic ways of doing this kind of teaching.
Of course, such usage in school is mainly for people who haven’t learned how to learn, which currently includes quite a lot of people. For those who are very strong learners and know how to learn by themselves, they can form learning groups and learn topics together through peer learning. This twitter-like snippet system will also have features to support and facilitate that kind of learning.
The ultimate goal is for people to be able to learn in real life. People can be engaged in whatever they want to do in their lives. They only need to spend a very small portion of their time to contemplate on what they experienced daily or weekly, and be conscious of the knowledge system they are in. Teacher and students will be more equal. The teacher is merely an early learner who has more learning experiences, probably has gained the full picture of the knowledge and is able to tell where the student is. Learning is never separated from life.
I have two master degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science from US schools. Neural system and brain have been my most favorite parts in my study of life science. I have been doing work on elearning and education for more than 10 years. I am also a long time Buddhism practitioner. I am looking for future collaborators to work on this research together. So if you are interested, please contact me.
p.s. the above is writtle in a rush. Please allow time to refine it.