Have I mentioned lately how awesome the Creating Passionate Users blog is, in particular how much I agree with their teaching/learning methodologies? They rock, man.
Creating Passionate Users: Foo Camp: ad-hoc learning
A lot of adult learning environments (including colleges) do have scenarios in which the students/learners are asked to help evolve the course itself… including taking turns presenting some of the material, but these kinds of activities are the exception, when they should be a key component. I’ve argued with instructors for years over this–as they claim, “Students didn’t come here to be taught by other students who don’t know anything–they came here to get the facts from ME, the expert.”
Oh really? If you drill down, you’d find that most of the students/learners are there to learn. They may have been conditioned through tradition that this means the student listens (and does the occasional “lab exercise”) while the expert dispenses facts and knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it’s truly what most learners want. They want to learn.
And surprisingly little real, deep learning comes from sitting in a chair listening. Think about it… you often learn best (or at least, most memorably) when you’re suddenly thrown in the deep end of a situation where you must figure something out in order to keep going or fix a problem. We learn from doing, and we learn from interacting and discussing with others.
But we often learn best that which we have to teach.
It’s only when you have to explain something to someone else that you really find out how little you understand. And that realization motivates you and points to the right direction for getting the rest of the story.