Thesis: Attributes of the Ideal in Higher Education

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Attributes of the Ideal in Higher Education

The proper aim of education is to promote significant learning.

Significant learning entails development"

Laurent a. Daloz (20th century) (Daloz, as cited in Columbia World, 1996).

What is the ideal education?, according to Selma Becirovic (2004), in the newspaper article, "The ideal education for me," constitutes a controversial question that individuals have debated for eons. Daloz, as the introductory quote segment for this paper relates, asserts that ideally, education aims to "promote significant learning" (Daloz, as cited in Columbia World, 1996), which will consequently contribute to development. Becirovic points out, however that despite the ongoing quest for the ideal in education, needs of students vary, so in turn opinions regarding what is ideal will also differ. As this paper considers attributes of the ideal in higher education, the researcher examines a number of components numerous sources deem critical to learning and higher education.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Development means successively asking broader and deeper questions of the relationship between oneself and the world" (Daloz, as cited in Columbia World, 1996).

In "Across the moat: higher education e-learning: lowering the drawbridge to connect corporate learners with higher education," Elliott Masie (2003). president of the MASIE Center, an international think tank focused on learning and technology, argues that corporate and higher education are not so very different and separate marketplaces. Even though the process of content development and learning facilitation do somewhat differ in higher education and corporations, they do possess similar aims, goals, and strategies, with a number of these similar "and even more that must become similar. Both worlds require great tools to create, manage, and deliver content and collaborative activities" (Masie, ¶ 3). Both routinely utilize learning systems, and regularly track models and learner engagement strategies.

Those in the corporate realm need content and processes in the higher education world, just as those in the higher education realm need knowledge and context. The corporate word possesses. Masie (2003) stresses that corporate learning specifically needs "content sources for e-learning and for high-quality and affordable learning foundries" (¶ 5).

In the near future, Masie predicts, higher education groups, including community colleges to brand-name universities, will begin start to create and/or compile content that may be leveraged in the corporate world.

If/when the higher education facilities develop the content in a reusable object form, this will enable corporations to complete the end section. For example, Masie (2003) asserts, colleges could create course content on safety in manufacturing arenas. Manufacturers could then finish the content by adding local and custom content for the final 2% of the course. Ultimately, graduate students and interns could contribute to creating a constant flow of content in an affordable system.

It is critical that the standards being developed for e-learning "work" for the benefit of both corporate and higher education environments, Masie (2003) insists.

This will help ensure content may be productively passed back and forth. Learners would also be able to transport "a digital form of their learning management record into their future job settings" (Masie, ¶ 5).

This background could also be leveraged as corporate and higher education facilities develop greater personalization abilities.

Learning Theories

Karen Paisley, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah, Nathan Furman, a doctoral student in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah, Jim Sibthorp, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah, and John Gookin, (2008), the Curriculum Director for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming assert that no universally accepted theory or model of learning currently exists. Several of the more recognized learning theories and models, albeit include:

Social learning theory...places a premium on learning through modeling and observation of role models. (Paisley et al., 2008, ¶ 3)

Schema theory basically purports: "All knowledge is organizedinto units. Within these units of knowledge, or schemata, is stored information (Schema Theory, N.d., p. 1)

Information processing emphasises, but is not limited to:

the importance of meaning and context in learning, the key role of prior knowledge in learning, the need for meaningful feedback, the need for knowledge to be available in an integrated form.... (Information processing N.d.)

Constructivism...embraces the idea of mentoring and participant construction of meaning (Paisley et al., 2008, ¶ 3)

Paisley et al. (2008) examine the process through which outdoor learning occurs, yet stress that leaning may occur in any setting. Findings from the study by Paisley et al., although based on the students' responses prove cconsistent with grounded theory, an emergent research process with a number of similarities to action research. "Grounded theory research begins by focusing on an area of study and gathers data from a variety of sources, including interviews and field observations....The data are analyzed using coding and theoretical sampling procedures" (Haig, 1996-2004, ¶ 2). When these steps are completed, with the help of interpretive procedures, theories are generated, written up and presented. Paisley et al. (2008) note learning objectives fostered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) include the following five domains:

Structure-oriented mechanisms;

instructor-oriented mechanisms;

student-oriented mechanisms;

student- and instructor-oriented mechanisms" (Paisley et al., 2008, Domains section, ¶ 1); and mechanisms that result from physical and social environmental qualities (Ibid.)

How Adults Learn

In "Understanding how adults learn," Marty Mannone (2005), a freelance writer, asserts that a mutual dependency exists between the instructor and the student in adult education. "The learner is dependent on the instructor for confirming feedback on skill practice; the instructor is dependent on the learner for feedback about curriculum and in-class performance. (Curriculum Design section, ¶ 19). Mannone (2005) points out:

Adults seek out learning experiences to cope with specific life-changing events, e.g., "marriage, divorce, a new job, a promotion, being fired, retiring, losing a loved one, moving to a new city (Mannone, 2005, ¶ 2).

Adults will usually engage in learning experiences "before, after, or even during the actual life change event. Once convinced that the change is a certainty, adults will engage in any learning that promises to help them cope with the transition (Mannone, 2005, ¶ 5).

Adults, motivated to seek a learning experience, primarily do so because they plan to use the knowledge or skill they seek; integrating it with what they already know (Mannone, 2005).

Adults need to be able to integrate new ideas with what they already know if they are going to keep -- and use -- the new information (Mannone, 2005, Curriculum Design

Adults frequently compensate for their slower speeds in a number of psychomotor learning tasks by ensuring their work is more accurate. They may take errors personally, and permit them to affect their self-esteem (Mannone, 2005).

Adults "prefer self-directed and self-designed learning projects over group-learning experiences led by a professional, they select more than one medium for learning, and they desire to control pace and start/stop time" (Mannone, 2005, ¶ 11).

Adults bring a myriad of valuable life experiences into the learning environment, and readily learn from dialogue with peers they respect (Mannone, 2005, ¶ 17).

Blended Learning the concept of blended learning, blending various learning experiences, according to Norman Vaughan (2007), who explore the concept of blended learning from a student, faculty, and administrative perspective in higher education, recounted in "Perspectives on blended learning in higher education," began when humans initially began to consider teaching. "These technologies have created new opportunities for students to interact with their peers, faculty, and content, inside and outside of the classroom" (¶ 1). Recently, blended learning gained the spotlight, as web-based technologies were infused into the learning and teaching process. Blended learning reportedly consists of the combination of face-to-face and online learning, however Ron Bleed, the Vice Chancellor of Information Technologies at Maricopa College, contends this definition is not sufficient. Blended learning is more than "bolting" technology onto a traditional course for technology to serve as an add-on to teach a particularly challenging concept or merely taking on supplemental information. Bleed purports:

Blended learning should be viewed as an opportunity to redesign the way that courses are developed, scheduled, and delivered in higher education through a combination of physical and virtual instruction, 'bricks and clicks' (Bleed, as cited in Vaughan, 2007, ¶ 2). Higher education frequently defines blended learning as a hybrid model. The University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, offers hybrids, courses where a significant segment of learning activities are completed online. As a result, time a student traditionally spends in the classroom, although not eliminated, is reduced. Hybrid courses aim to link the best features of in-class teaching with the top features of online learning. From this venue, students experience active, self-directed learning opportunities, along with flexibility. "A recent survey of e-learning activity found that 80% of all higher education institutions and 93% of doctoral institutions offer hybrid or blended learning courses" (Arabasz, Boggs, & Baker, as cited in Vaughan, 2007, ¶ 3).

Vaughan (2007) points out that even though results regarding blended learning are related to improved student… [END OF PREVIEW]

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