I'm a horrible person when it comes to taking classes. I hate learning at other's people's pace and I have no patience... I can't sit still for hours at a time listening to someone drone. It drives me nuts.
I just took a week-long course for my new job and it was interesting at first, but then got off on a bunch of subjects and parts of the server that I will never touch, so I started organizing and writing down things the stuff I want to accomplish pretty soon and other general daydreaming. I arrived on the second day because of the job negotiation, so I didn't get my own computer! Damn! I would have had much more fun in the class if I could've blogged my way through it.
The first thing I did while daydreaming is analyze what the difference between studying or reading or some web based class and a real class. Here's what I came up with:
- Organized Review: Everyone reviews the subjects together in a step by step format. If you're paying attention, you won't miss anything and everyone will have the same background.
- Expanded Explanations: The teacher can give a narration of the subject like in a story, expand on parts that are more interesting and skip parts that need less attention.
- Verbal and Visual: The teacher is talking, you're looking at examples and diagrams and reading the presentation text. Verbal cues, visual cues and words. Though it can seem boring, there's actually a ton of information getting aimed at you (maybe too much extraneous info...).
- Questions: You can stop the teacher at any time and ask a question if you don't understand.
- Hands On: If you're doing a lab or some other form of learning, your teacher can come over and help you out of a jam.
Now here's why I think classes suck:
- Too Slow: if you already know the subject
- Too Fast: if you're a bit behind (or started daydreaming).
- Serial: If one person asks a question, everyone in the class stops. Eveything stops. All the audio/visual/textual information that you were receiving grinds to a halt because some bozo in the corner doesn't get it.
I remember from high-school and college that the thing I hated most was "class discussion." I never learned anything from my blathering classmates. Thank god we didn't have any of that in this class... it was all just lecture.
I've been wanting for several years now to get more into online education - that's why I started Avedia back in 1999. Avedia: Audio/Visual Education. (I should have called it Vedio.com which was available at the time too... a much cooler name. I don't know what I was thinking.) I think that a online presentation with a video of the speaker, the text and diagrams on the side and a chat window open to a group of "teaching assistants" would really be cool. Not a group chat where I have to fight to get my answer heard, just a one on one IM chat with a knowledgeable person. Maybe it can be timed and you have to pay by the minute so you don't boor the poor guy to tears with inane questions...