Bircham International University
Effective online learning: The key to integrate the "know-how" of any specialization in our mind lies in understanding WHAT and HOW we study. More info...
Textbooks specifically selected and supervised by Bircham International University constitute the core element of every online learning course. These books are chosen for their clear, interesting, and in-depth content. They encourage critical thinking and the practical application of the acquired knowledge. BIU adopts the best available list of published textbooks in an attempt to meet the projected online learning outcomes from each distance degree program.
It is necessary to structure an effective online learning approach and apply it to the selected textbooks, in order to transform the raw material from the textbook into useful processed information. The BIU pedagogy is a good example of how to achieve this goal.
Effective adult distance learning higher education.
We all have spent many years studying and memorizing...
Have we really learned much?
How much do we remember from high school or college subjects?
The truth is: very little. Why?
TEACHING VERSUS LEARNING
1. Our mind retains only useful information.
Most schools' distance learning higher education methods are based on memorization and testing. Unfortunately, these are actually teaching methods and not learning ones. We usually remember the pieces of information that we have expressed somehow: whether in arguments, speeches, exams, or in our own internal mental dialogs. Why is it so? Just because the human mind functions efficiently and practically, storing only useful information. The rest of the data is kept at what can be roughly called the "back" of the long-term memory, where it gradually falls in misuse. Had it been not this way, the human brain would be permanently overloaded with excessive information. As a result, thinking would be impossible.
2. Thinking transforms information into knowledge.
In order to transform any new bit of information into knowledge, we have to activate the process of thinking. Thinking integrates data through synthesis, analogy, and deduction, thus generating the knowledge and enabling problem-solving. All this newly acquired knowledge is stored in a kind of "operating system". The more new information is processed by this "operating system", the more efficient its functioning becomes. For this very reason; the more we think, the more intelligent we become. It works like a muscle.
3. How to turn data into useful & permanent mind files?
Any new bit of perceived data is stored initially into a "temporary" memory. Then, we may decide whether to pass it to the long-term memory and fix it there by creating emotional links, logical routes, and/or practical applications. These associative relationships will help the mind track and retrieve the processed data, so that it would not be lost or forgotten. Overloading the long-term memory with incredible amounts of information without strong associative tracks or links will lead to a messy and weak memory data file. Any data stored this way will be hard to retrieve, or in other words, very difficult to remember. Therefore, it is not a matter of how much we study, but rather what and how we study.
4. Is it possible to increase the capacity of our mind?
The issue is not so simple. First, we must create additional mental schemata that will allow us to process and store any new flows of useful information. Such new mental pathways are generated with the sum of strong data associative links, as mentioned before. On the other hand, it is the intensity and frequency of the new data processing through the recently created pathways and schemata that will actually expand and fix a higher level of mental capacity.
5. How does BIU adult distance learning higher education work?
The key to successful learning lays in the type of mental process that takes place when we extract information from a text, and how we have to reprocess and express it in the form of written work. Studying becomes an active phenomenon, that enables comprehension (reading and search for data), new mental schemata (concepts hierarchy and interrelation), and input transformation (data reorganization and writing). The newly acquired thinking structures do not rely on classic memorization, and help to increase our reasoning capacity and problem-solving skills. This intellectual improvement is permanent and expanding. Learning at Bircham International University will not become simple life training, it becomes a permanent absorption of newly acquired materials and skills.
Bircham International University follows the learning outcomes level structure set by the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning. You may check the EQF learning outcomes for each course or subject at the BIU continuing education web, or you may request them to the BIU office. Here we refer to the Bloom's taxonomy, a classification frequently used to measure educational goals in the USA. These learning outcomes levels are achieved following the BIU's distance learning higher education pedagogy, and through the presentation of the required evaluation units: Reports, project and thesis. More info...
LEARNING OUTCOMES LEVELS
LEVEL 1. Knowledge & Comprehension
Resulting from comprehensive reading and index preparation (Table of Contents).
By reading the textbooks assigned by the distance learning higher education program, the student will identify and sort the program's key ideas. The selected concepts will have to be classified and rearranged in order to prepare a coherent index or table of contents. This index will become the skeleton needed to achieve the required work. Thus, this index will demonstrate the student's ability to grasp the interrelationships, hierarchy, and overall meaning of the program's key elements.
LEVEL 2. Analysis, Synthesis, & Development
Resulting from textbook analysis, content selection, and first draft writing.
The student will examine the assigned textbook and integrate selected extracts of the text contents according to the previously defined index (table of contents). The selected text extracts will need to meet the format requirements. Consequently, the student will have to search throughout the textbook several times in order to expand or summarize the information, when needed. This recurrent adjustment of the text contents will lead the student to categorize the information read in order to produce a suitable first draft of assigned work. In other words, the read material must be rearranged and fit into a new written format. This may involve rearrangement and sometimes transformation of graphic and numeric data into verbal and vice versa; in addition to its interpretation, explanation, and summary.
LEVEL 3. Production & Assessment of the final assignment.
Resulting form the final production of the assignment: Report, project or thesis.
Once the first draft of the academic work required is completed, the student will need to reread the work thoroughly in order to detect possible mistakes. The material should be developed in such a way that its style, content, and structure are logical and reveal knowledge of the subject matter. The student's ability to combine the different parts of the text into a new and coherent format will determine the final evaluation of the submitted work. Diagrams, charts, and examples may be added to illustrate the content.
LEVEL 4. Knowledge Application & Critical Thinking
Resulting from case study analysis, problem solving, conclusions, and applicability to professional experience.
BIU expects from the student the following: to compare and contrast the learned material with his/her own knowledge and experience; to express his/her opinion on the subject-matter; to show practical applications of the theoretical concepts; and to draw meaningful conclusions in his/her written assignment. All personal judgments should be based on sound criteria and must be clearly argued. Critical thinking learning outcomes are usually achieved at the projects and theses level of research work. Some reports may also include conscious judgment based on clearly defined criteria when they are drawing conclusions from profound case study analyses.
TEXTBOOKS VERSUS ONLINE MATERIAL
Bircham International University has conducted a serious research about the efficiency of online learning and textbooks. We concluded the following:
Online learning material has proven to be efficient for short courses or seminars, usually under 40 hours of study. Online learning material is very motivating and pedagogical because of interactive charts and schemata, knowledge trees, etc., but not so efficient as a source of extensive amounts of content material.
Computer screen reading and comprehension exhausts the mind and the eyes after one hour of continuous concentration. Book reading allows three times more continuous work, before reaching the same level of mind and eyes exhaustion.
Online learning time is limited by the availability of a computer and Internet access. Textbook availability is more versatile. One may read a book on a train on the way home, sitting in a park, waiting for someone, etc... The ambiance surrounding the study time also plays an important role in the mind's state of receptiveness.
Concept search is conducted faster through the pages of a book than on a computer screen (for contents equivalent to a 600 pages book), except in the case of exact phrase or word search. Concept comprehension and interrelationship is more important than concrete data search when it comes to the efficiency of adult distance learning higher education.
Despite of the intensive use of computers, our mind feels more comfortable reading a book. Books allow note taking in the book itself, text marking, running through different sections. They are also affordable, portable, and can be read practically everywhere and under most circumstances.
It does not matter how much technology or fancy environments is given to a student, actual and efficient learning will be the direct result of a mental effort and process that no one else substitutes. If you want to learn, you have to do it yourself. And you do not need much except for good books, a good guidance, and, of course, your effort and mental process.
Thinking is free, not thinking may turn out quite expensive. More info...
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