I saw this interesting post regarding Harvard University posting videos that act as a course syllabus (or a supplement to the syllabus) that anyone in the world can view. You do not necessarily have to go to the school to see what students at Harvard will be learning this year and who they will be learning it from:
The videos are publicly available on the site, which means that those of us not lucky enough to attend Harvard can catch a glimpse of what students there will be learning this semester, which is a positive effect of the use of such technology, opening up the workings of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. But on the other hand, it may just make some of us green with envy that we aren’t students there.
The last sentence in that quote really struck me. Mostly in K-12 education, students are told what they need to take and are forced into a class whether they like it or not, like it is the learning equivalent of vegetables.
“Just take this class…it will be good for you!”
Now I know that as we grow, we also gain more responsibility to pick and choose what we want to learn about. I know that when I was 5, reading would have not been my first choice for learning but obviously I am happy I have that skill as an adult. My question is how often do we just accept that students have to come to our classes and are okay with that? When would we ever create a video similar to the one created for this course, and get kids excited about what they are learning about? I hate using the term “customer” when talking about our kids, but in reality, we are there to serve them and should we not be getting them excited about what they are learning about?
I think little opportunities like creating a video are not only an opportunity to share what we will be learning but also to get students excited about the class and convince them to take the course. Would that be bad? I would love the thought that as a teacher kids would be excited about what they were going to learn in my class from day 1 and I knew that they wanted to be there. It is also a great time to challenge them, ask questions, get them to create questions, and even build a connection before they walk into class. A written paragraph on a piece of paper would not do that for me for most courses and I am guessing that would not work with most of our kids either.