Sunday, October 23, 2011

GED Study Tip: Activate Your Learning

Most GED students are busy adults. Whether they're enrolled in a local GED prep class, or managing a self-guided study program, limited time means study time should be as effective as possible.

What makes a study program effective? Successful study is about learning, and the learning process is critical for any student -- whether it's mastering skills for the GED or the skills for a masters degree.

Once students understand how to activate the learning process and understand the learning process itself, it's easier to learn. Learning is about retaining knowledge and owning it -- not about memorization. And this is what the GED really measures -- using knowledge that you own.

Learning is an Active Process

For most people, learning doesn't magically occur by reading or reviewing, or by listening to a lecture. Learning is an active process, and to learn, students need to be involved or engaged with the information. Consider this student's story, from Curtis, a PassGED graduate:

"I failed the GED math test two times. I had passed all the other tests, but it seemed like every time I saw those numbers, it was like a foreign language. It didn't matter how much I studied. I still didn't have a clue. I thought I'd never learn how to do the math.

"Then I took a math course. I learned that lots of the math on the test, well, I already knew it. Like I could do math in my head and I was good at figuring out money, quick like, in my mind. Once I figured out how to work the numbers on the test the same way I saw them in my mind, it was easy to learn what I needed to know to pass the math test."

For Curtis, once learning became an active process, his learning was activated. He discovered a way to be involved and engaged with mathematical information, so he was able to retain the information and knowledge he needed for the test.

Real Learning Requires Relevant Information

Curtis's story demonstrates another learning principle. Real learning requires relevant information. Just consider how many people claim to be poor math learners, yet these same people are wizards with personal finances, estimating, or they can solve workplace problems using analytical ability. When information is relevant, it's meaningful and much easier to master since it makes a difference to life.

So a good GED study plan requires relevant information. Even when the material doesn't seem very relevant, students can make it meaningful by thinking of ways the information or knowledge might apply to their own life. Once information is interesting or important, it quickly becomes real knowledge, knowledge that's used.

Learning is a Style

Learning is a style, and there are plenty of learning styles. The learning process is more easily activated when information is presented in a way that parallels an individual's learning style.

Some people learn best by hearing. Some by seeing, or by hands-on application. And some people learn through combined styles. Some students can immediately see the logic of how material fits together -- or the whole picture, while others more clearly see the details of the different pieces.

Just consider how some math students are very good with equations, but have a tough time with word problems. Then other students master word problems easily but find equations difficult and mind-boggling. Both types of students use different learning styles to approach math.

So it's important for students to identify their own learning style. Do you enjoy lectures? And listening to information? Or do words always seem to create images and pictures in your mind? Or, do you know that you learn best with your hands? Or through movement? By reading?

Once you understand your learning style, you can use it to your advantage. When studying, convert the material to the learning style that makes you comfortable -- especially if the material seems confusing, meaningless, tedious, boring or difficult. Translate test problems, knowledge and concepts into pictures, story form or even create dances, games or models. Whenever possible, use learning materials designed for your learning style, or that that you can easily adapt to your own style.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why the Need to Renew School Mission Today?

During the last decade of last century, the world has witnessed an unrecorded high-speed scientific and technological revolution which impacted all aspects of life and brought about enormous changes characterised by the swiftness of their dissemination, mainly in the domain of education and training. Obviously, schools -in developed and developing countries- are no longer what they used to be.

In this respect, education stakeholders in Tunisia have anticipated the difficulties that would inevitably arise as a result of these huge transformations, by deeply reflecting on the issue of the renewed mission of the school in a world bound to witness deep changes affecting the structure of society and knowledge, the methods of work and the means of production.

That's why, we can notice that the educational system in our country is witnessing a deep reform movement in order to adhere to a society where high-quality knowledge has become the cause of peoples' development and the basis for their immunity and strength.

High-tech mutations have posed -and continue to posing- serious challenges to school, which had to imperatively reconsider its objectives, methods and means. As a response to these challenges, decision-makers in the domain of education have given educational reform a prominent degree amongst their occupations and made it an absolute priority to upgrade quickly the educational system. In fact, reform redefined the finalities and missions of school, instituted compulsory and free basic schooling, and restructured secondary education, in a manner that makes Tunisian education resolutely turned towards the future. Upgrading educational human resources, official syllabuses and ways of implementing the new reform are basically the 3 strategies undertaken to keep our schools up-to-date. It goes without saying that we are aware of the difficulties we are faced with; it's a battle which needs conviction, patience, commitment and most importantly change of mentalities. Despite some slowness and reluctance -quite normal at the beginning of every change- the process is under way.

Because future-oriented schools require the mastery of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as tools to access the modern society of knowledge, we have taken them both as a means to update our educational system and as a powerful teaching and learning partner. The integration of ICT in teaching-learning processes has become a hallmark that stresses what is known as the Tunisian visionary approach which aims to lead people towards a better future where everyone has a share, a role and a position. These technologies represent a strategic choice in our future-oriented schools and they aim to:

* be used as a teaching aid to assist learners,

* access various fields of knowledge,

* ensure a solid general education in all basic fields.

Apart from equipping our educational institutions with computers and Internet connection and integrating ICT in our everyday school practices, we are contributing to the development of distance education through the Tunisian Virtual School (TVS) which has been launched since 2002. The TVS provides its users -students and educators- with free interactive courses and training tutorials to help them improve their face-to-face education.

Nevertheless, in the domain of ICT-based education, there are still challenges on the individual, national and international levels that need to be overcome because the performance of an education system is no longer measured by the size of the school-going population or amount of funds allocated to it, but by the ratio between those enrolled in school and those who leave and have experienced high-quality learning.