Classics #4: How Design and Technology help Learning

Since Jon started teaching, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into education. I think the reason being is that education viewed from a student’s perspective doesn’t seem as important as someone who is already professional looking back at his or her life as a student.


“When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”

-Jack Cheng

Every now and again, I read up on this post as a reminder that new skills do not happen overnight. It’s a process albeit slow but nonetheless there are no shortcuts, no cramming to true learning.

Self directed learning and education have always been on my mind, more so now that my fiancé has started his first year as a Physics teacher. One of his last workshops before the beginning of the year was about the use of technology to enhance learning in the classroom. He scoffed at the trainer’s enthusiasm over the uses of Twitter, blogs, and other social media in the classroom. He argued these tools provided more distractions than their worth and blamed the overload of information for the short attention span of people of our generation (hence, why I refer to him as an old man in a young guy body).

So maybe Twitter and Facebook in the classroom might be detrimental but what about wikis and websites concerning science? The more ways a material is presented to you, the more likely you are to remember and comprehend it.

In “When will we learn?”Fareed Zakaria praised American university education: “American education at its best teaches you how to solve problems, truly understand the material, question authority, think for yourself and be creative. It teaches you to learn what you love and love learning.

Innovation and creativity…. But sadly American public education below university level does contain that pizzaz that Zakaria is talking about. My fiancé is constantly surrounded by students who whine and don’t want to learn or mentally block themselves thinking the material is too “hard.” And I believe him ‘cause I was one of those students: Physics scared me so much that I ended it up dropping the course in high school.





It’s important to engage and it’s also important to provide students with trade skills that they can use in the future. It’s never too early to give them the tools to (if they wish) finance their way through college instead of accumulating debt.

Design a classroom for more fruitful learning. Use a variety of technology to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Hell, the whole point of the internet was originally to share research between scientists.

I know in America teachers are hardly appreciated but maybe it’s time to start shifting the blame from them and actually help them. ‘Cause innovation and creativity doesn’t come overnight and neither does a new generation of potential Steve Jobs’ .