Student Engagement In the E-learning Environment – A Conversation with Jim Baker
The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.
― Audre Lorde
Learners learn the best when teachers cultivate in them a desire to learn rather than making them absorb facts. Theories evolve, facts change but enthusiasm for learning once found never dies.
Jim Baker, a maverick teacher (or an “entertainer” as he likes to call himself), understood the value of creating enthusiastic learners early on in his career. Despite being told to strictly adhere to conventional ways of teaching many times in his career, he continues to stand for what he believes in – inspiring learning.
He has been educating learners in his unique way for over four decades now. After serving for 38 years as a chemistry teacher in Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, Lincolnshire, Jim retired from his full-time work position in August 2008. He left the job but not his passion and continues to connect with learners in a more independent way i.e. through e-learning.
Now, he is on mission. A mission to help teachers promote true learning. Continuing his efforts, Jim will present a free webinar ‘Student Engagement In The E-learning Environment’ on July 17th, 2015 on WizIQ, where he’ll discuss the loopholes of current educational systems and how teachers can find their way around them by using technology and flipped learning model.
In a conversation with me, Jim shares more about his teaching journey, his views on education systems, flipped learning model and his upcoming webinar.
Me – As someone who started teaching more than 44 years ago, what kind of changes have you seen in the way teachers teach and learners learn?
Jim – When I started ‘teaching’ (I prefer the word entertaining) back in 1970, teachers had autonomy. They could teach as they saw fit. There was not the pressure on teachers to ‘meet targets’. Certainly in science there were fewer topics but these were covered in greater depth which aided understanding. Nowadays, there is more content which is covered superficially because all students have to take science. The emphasis now is on ‘statistics’ and ‘meeting targets’ and I regard students as a ‘by-product’ of this process. Students are not educated anymore: they are force-fed information, not for their benefit but for the benefit of the ‘system’. There is clearly more technology available but it is not used efficiently. Check out my article ‘Using the cloud to make learning fun.’
Me – Who are responsible for the “nonsense” that you often talk about in education systems? And what’s the way forward?
Jim – Firstly, it is successive governments who are ultimately responsible as they ‘make the rules’. The fact that these ‘rules’ or ‘goal-posts’ change so frequently is a clear indication that the ‘decision makers’ are clueless. If they have never been at the ‘chalk-face’ of education, what credentials have they to ‘rule-make’? If they had to ‘carry out’ their own decisions in the classroom they would not survive a month. Were I the CEO of a company that lost 50% of its workforce within three years I should seriously question my policies. Yet 50% of maths and science teachers leave the profession within three years. As for the way forward, My presentation ‘The Way Forward’ will explain all.
Me – How do you see ‘Flipped Learning’ changing the landscape of education?
Jim – As I have said in my presentation ‘The Way Forward’ it will create independent learners, which is what we should be educating our students to become. The classroom/lecture theatre will change from a place where ‘information is given out’ to one where ‘information is understood’.
Me – Your upcoming webinar on WizIQ about ‘Student Engagement in E-learning Environment’ is also based on the Flipped model. How should attendees best prepare for this?
Jim – Please refer to my course description, my presentations and my articles before the webinar. As I have said in my ‘about course’ section: in accordance with flipped learning I want this webinar to be as interactive as possible, with you, the learners, coming to the webinar prepared having seen my presentations and articles before the webinar. You will then be in a better position to ask questions. Many give courses on flipped learning without employing the ethos of it themselves.
Save Your Spot for Jim’s webinar ‘Student Engagement in The E-learning Environment’. If you feel you can’t attend the webinar, register anyway. You’ll still get the free access to recording of the webinar.