How Online Learning Is Better For Students

Online education is a perfect fit for educational needs that would not fit into traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms.

How Online Learning Is Better For Students

Philip and Noemi end the recording with this statement:

“This, our Socratic method of learning by dialogue, is what we plan to teach classes in the future.”

Philip never foresaw that the lecture would disappear, or that his Montessori teacher-training methodology would gain widespread adoption in the United States. He only hoped that a greater understanding of parent-child communication would ultimately make them better parents.

When she began the family business over a decade ago, Noemi thought only of her family members, taking no notice of the people who would become her day-to-day work partners. “You cannot make decisions and do something new without the people you work with,” she says. “It takes togetherness.”

The annual revenue of Ripley’s Aquariums in Seattle is pegged at $400 million, but Philip brings home at least $250,000 a year — especially when he accepts the actor Matthew Broderick’s unconventional salary. He would rather be teaching school than acting or movie sets.

Philip, like his society, adapts to the challenges it faces. He’s made it his mission to develop a curriculum that gives kids more control over their learning. He provides personalized feedback and accountability to make sure they master concepts and problems, and his classes fall in line with two important principles:

* It’s parenting.

Philip has been struck by how overwhelmingly popular the idea is. Parents are eager to take advantage of tools like personalized learning to keep their children tuned in and engaged.

And I’m not just talking about parents who are paying money for something like learning apps and websites that simply don’t fulfill a student’s learning needs. A vast number of average users — like 30 percent of my colleagues — are doing so through free online courses that parents might have paid for, years ago, but still want something that they can believe in.

So why have we had this educational renaissance all these years, all these years?

Without question, online education is changing the model for higher education. Throughout history, colleges and universities have engaged with the world, not just by offering degrees, but by offering equal access to education and hands-on experience.

In recent years, as more students come to rely on online learning as a key part of their education, how we deliver it and the way it’s evaluated are changing. We owe it to students to ensure that what they get is something real. And we owe it to parents to make sure their children get real choices and real feedback.

When we allow parents and students to access instruction on the web or through their preferred devices, the need for state-of-the-art technology becomes less important. Technology alone is not the solution. Connectivity and collaboration are, as Philip — and more than 60 percent of other teachers in Ripley’s — sees it.

A report recently released by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) revealed a trend among parents and parents-to-be who want to know that education as they know it no longer applies to their kids’ lives. It’s about the necessary and fundamental shifts in expectations parents are looking for. They want to know their child, not as an education case study, but as someone who, like them, is a person, with needs and desires.

While parents and students need to be parents and students to improve their own quality of life, educators must seek to raise and help students to be the adults they could be. Students, and teachers, must also set a positive example for our young people — parents with computers and educators with iPads — by proving to be living, and supporting, the ideals that have made us who we are.

To become a great teacher, you need to leave your world. More important, you need to leave your limiting, outdated limitations behind. Education, then, is no longer about teaching lectures and building rote memorization skills. It’s about teaching skills — developing the ability to think critically, creatively, and flexibly.

When the founder of Ripley’s Aquariums, Phillip J. Ripley, sat down to deliver his 2014 commencement address at Carnegie Mellon University, he knew that time was running out.

“Doing what everyone else does better leads to becoming everyone else’s employee, competitor or competitor,” he said. “All of us are employees now, employees because we are all in this game together, competitors because we are all competing for the same ball.”

Catherine Hurst, the new educational leader at Ripley’s Aquariums, knows that you can’t think like a Ripley. You can’t assume that by unleashing all of your creativity and optimism, you can attain unshakable success. You can only hope that with a happy heart, you can make a difference for someone else’s future.

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