How about “need-for-content” centric learning ?

Laura’s latest blog is desperately pushing us to blog more, think more about the class, practice reflective learning.  It is a worthy goal, but it is bound to fail.. here is why!

#grad602 is trying to create a student centric learning experience within the constructs of teacher centric education model. I see one set of folks criticize the #grad602’s teacher centric model while not embracing the student centric message,  while others criticize the students for not embracing the student centric model and for  compromising their learning experience. The fundamental problem is we are ignoring the question – do i have a need for this learning right now? If not, i have no incentive to  participate fully in the conversation.

I truly believe the notion necessity is the mother of all learning. What we should aim to get out of this class is a framework and some connections and hopefully we can reach out to the connections in the future when our “need-for-content” kicks in.  To make the need for content model work, we need scale. This will not work in a 25 students/ 16 week course model. This requires 100,000 people / 10 years model.  This type of learning is a life long process.


As always your 2 cents are the most valued currency here!







  1. Laura Gogia

    Hey–I caught you blogging, thus I have not failed completely :).

    No, all joking aside, I agree with your “learning due to necessity” point…it’s actually a huge tenet of adult learning theory and one that I have experienced in my own life over and over again, so I get it.

    But I think that is where I lose your logic stream. Most of the people in this class are already teaching or planning on teaching, right? So why wouldn’t they need to explore a variety of teaching techniques so they don’t fall on their face in the classroom? We are all very well-versed in how to give and receive a power point, so much in fact that we would not dream of taking a class in how to do that. But these are relatively unheard of teaching techniques, particularly in the “hard sciences” (and apparently the business school, but I don’t speak from any experience at all on that). Why wouldn’t a teacher want to know about all their options, ? That is unless they really care about being amazing content experts, not amazing teachers, maybe? I guess I don’t understand why they would even be in this class–was the course description unclear? If so, the professors were pretty clear on the first night what this class was going to be about–why not drop? I understand that other people were forced to take this class and I am sorry for that, but perhaps a quick reflection on why your department is forcing you to take this class? What kind of message is being sent and why? So I guess I’m getting back to my original confusion–if people don’t want to experiment with different teaching techniques then do they really want to be teachers? Or is teaching just a necessary evil of doing academic-based research?

    Regarding my own “desperation” to get people to blog, I am sorry if that was what I conveyed through my blog. What I was trying to convey was my frustration and sadness that my learning experience was going to be hampered by the fact that my teammates weren’t participating. Slight but important difference in locus of control, I believe. My reflection on my frustration also deeped my understanding of student-centered learning. First, student-centered learning can fall flat on its face just like teacher centered learning can. This was new for me. Second, when students participate in student-centered learning, they take on a certain responsibility to their classmates, to “teach” them and to be “taught” by them. Student-centered learning requires the participant to be a part of something bigger than themselves and I wonder if non-participants of our class understand this. Do they care about their partners who are trying to participate as best as they can? Or do they refuse to accept that responsibility since they didn’t know it was part of the game? Will there be a time in which students come to expect student-centered learning and all of the work it entails?

    Finally, I would like to point out that our professors are trying to teach us two things, on two different levels…they are trying to teach us content and process. It is a lot to fit into a semester, I agree. But it is also pretty cool.

    Great blog, 2 cents. You always come up with good stuff when you decide to share it 🙂

    • 2centsblogger

      Laura. As always i can count on you to push the conversation in the right direction. thanks for that.. Obviously I did not explain myself correctly. I did not mean that people are forced to take this class hence they are not participating. Even though this is a core requirement, I like this course and know this will benefit me. Where I was going with my thought about content-need-centric learning is that it is not fair to expect every one to participate at a pace that you or someone else decides to be appropriate and try to regulate to that. I am saying that different people will feel the need for that type of interconnected learning at different times and content-need-centric learning model can adapt better than student centric learning ( which i believe your position is originating from)

      • Laura Gogia

        You may be right, but I have since morphed my position to “learning-centric learning” which is a Jane Vella-ism…I’ll see if I can find a link later. It’s somewhere in the middle of the two (see my mention of you in my comments section You say that “It is not fair to expect everyone to participate at a pace that you or someone else decides to be appropriate and try to regulate that…” Does that mean you are against all evaluation? No tests? No grades? No assignments? Certainly no death-by-powerpoint classes.. You are proposing the most basic self-directed learning education without instructor intervention, isn’t it?.

  2. ofthoughtsandblogs

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more when you say “necessity is the mother of all learning”. But the goal of the course is not only to lay out the modern means of teaching and learning for us on a platter; it is also for us to get a taste of each one, chew on it a couple of times and then decide if you are a “taster” (” or a “non-taster”. I myself am not an avid blogger yet, pretty much failing at tweeting too. But I feel unless I try my hand at blogging, diigo-ing, RSS-ing – I am not going to get it.
    What you said “it is not fair to expect every one to participate at a pace that you or someone else decides to be appropriate and try to regulate to that.” is the heart of this discussion. Everyone learns differently (are we forgetting the 7th principle of Chickering and Gamson?) and at the same time, each one bears responsibility for his learning. It can be enhanced by additional participation, but in no way it is hampered by someone else’s lesser participation. If the course were designed such that success of one student solely decided that of others, it would be a rather fallible model.
    Learning, by itself, is a life-long process. We begin somewhere and it has begun!

    • Laura Gogia

      I don’t know, ofthoughtsandblogs about “it is in no way hampered by someone else’s lesser participation.” Blog triads are built upon the theory that group participation increases generative learning, meaning that the whole (group conversation) can be more than its parts (individual reflection). I think that people can obviously still learn if their group chooses not to participate, but it is not–absolutely not–the same. And therefore there is a loss of opportunity there.

      • 2centsblogger

        @laura @ofthoughtsandblogs – we have come a full circle.. How can we ever achieve the goal of emancipated student centric learning within the paradigim of teacher centric structure. This conversation needs to be elevated from the methodological level up to epistemological level. If we accept the epistemology of legacy teacher centric model we have to throw out the epistemology of student centric learning but, I believe if we accept the student centric model we atleast can hope and dream the structure might work. Hence my earlier comment ” it is not fair to expect that every one to follow one set of rules” but when it happens it is magical!

      • Laura Gogia

        Ahh, you did get in the last word! 🙂 So true but you never answered my question…how do you propose we have organized education then? You are proposing true, un-mitigated self-directed learning and are bordering on sounding postmodern in the extreme (balkinizing in fact). Got to be middle ground…

  3. bwatwood

    Excellent conversation here … and I like the last point about “Everyone learns differently (are we forgetting the 7th principle of Chickering and Gamson?) and at the same time, each one bears responsibility for his learning.” Some of that tone came out today when Jeff and David and I recorded our podcast (see the class website for access).

  4. Pingback: RSS and other things on my mind… | Me, Myself, and the Web..

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