OF late, there have been a lot of discussions on the implementation of learning without walls in higher learning institutions. Even in my university, there is now a practice of “week without walls”. What is the commotion about? Are walls really constraining learning?
In 21st century education, it is said that students at an impressionable age should explore and expand their learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Dispensing of knowledge should not be done in the confinement of the classroom walls by only the person in front of the class, the teacher. It should be a shared experience whereby students are helped to develop mentally, emotionally and physically to the best of their abilities.
Through collaborative efforts, new technology, teamwork and so forth, students should be nurtured to inquire, discuss, be creative, think critically and solve problems. The old school method of “chalk and talk” is no longer applicable as we move towards a new generation of tech-savvy students.
Instead of confining students to learning through textbooks, they should be encouraged to explore and learn more meaningfully. For example, wouldn’t it be better to bring students outside the classroom to study the different types of flora and fauna rather than showing them pictures from textbooks?
Students can feel and see first hand the type of fruit or flower a tree produces and the shape of its leaf or branches. The learning experience would be more impressionable and lasting for children. Teachers can guide them to experiment, observe and record their findings.
Exploring the Internet is another fascinating avenue for children. At their finger tips, children are able to get multiple resources on any topic of their interest.
These could be in the form of videos, websites, journal articles, and so forth that are all easily available online. Learning can take place anywhere and anytime without the constraint of the set class time.
So, can learning without walls be considered for the school of the future? Will this affect the function of a classroom teacher?
In my 26 years of teaching, I have found myself following my timetable and going to and from classrooms to conduct my lessons. However, my teaching pattern has taken a new route lately with the practice of blended learning, language lab time, video assignments and online assessments.
There are some changes seeping into my teaching but they aren’t too burdensome.
Change can be good and, as teachers, we need to keep abreast with the times as we move on in this 21st century.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR SOO KUM YOKE
Academy of Language Studies
UiTM Negri Sembilan
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