What is Education?

By ACS Distance Education on November 8, 2022 in Education & Jobs Success | comments

Effective education is a learning experience.

Education brings about an inherent and permanent change in a person's thinking and capacity to do things. Many people have a superficial concept of education, equating it with doing a particular course or obtaining a particular qualification.

Qualifications and courses do not always equate with effective education.

  • People can undertake courses without any significant permanent change
  • People can achieve qualifications without changing.

Real education involves hearing, seeing, doing, and changing your awareness and capabilities for the better.

How good is a qualification?

There's no escaping the fact that good learning takes time.
Reading a book and understanding what you read, does not mean that you have been educated (or permanently changed), if you don't integrate what you read into your attitudes and memory. Similarly, attending a course and hearing a lecture doesn't mean you have changed or been educated.
Real education is very different to just having access to (or being exposed to) information about something. Real education embeds things into one's brain, and anyone who understands learning will understand that this comes from repeated exposure and use of information or skills.
Sadly, in today's world, people want to fast track everything: but learning is something that cannot usually be fast tracked. Shorter courses simply mean that less is learnt.

Does it matter how learning is delivered?

People have different expectations about how learning happens. 

Some prefer a teacher-centred delivery style – where an expert-teacher passes their subject knowledge on to their students. The teacher may deliver lectures or demonstrate skills. Students are encouraged to reproduce the knowledge or skills to prove that they have absorbed what was taught. 

A teacher-centred delivery style allows a lot of information to be shared quickly. However, there is a risk that students may become passive in their learning, and view the knowledge gained as discreet chunks of information related to specific assessment tasks. 

A student-centred delivery style positions teachers as learning guides. They may use a wider range of activities in a classroom, including group tasks, portfolio work and opportunities for students to show their understanding in different ways. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and build knowledge in ways that make sense to them.

“At ACS, we start to build our distance education courses from a student-centred perspective,” says John Mason, Principal at the Australian Correspondence School. “Learning begins with the student wherever they are on the day they contact us. When they sign up for a course, students are choosing to explore a topic. They may arrive with different life experiences – some have degrees, some are changing direction, some are school leavers. Whoever they are, they share a common purpose: to learn more about that topic and how it relates to them. Their motivation to learn is vital, and our tutors do what they can to inspire students to explore the connections between the subject matter and their own lives.”

This can be a challenging dynamic. John notes a recent conversation with a student who was distressed that a self-assessment quiz included questions related to material covered in previous lessons as well as the lesson in hand. “I think some students are so used to learning for assessment they have forgotten there are other reasons for learning. A real education happens when you see the connections between lessons; when you understand why and how to apply what you’ve learned in practice. Real learning is less about the final exam result and more about enjoying the process of acquiring and applying knowledge.”

Can distance education really be student-centred?

People’s perceptions of distance education are sometimes limited by ideas about the early days of correspondence education. Back then, everything was paper-based. Students received booklets they completed and then posted back to their teacher. There could be a lengthy delay before a response was received. The teacher would mark assignments and students’ answers could be either correct or not. Neither students nor teachers had opportunities to vary from their routine.

In today’s post-COVID world, distance education has come into its own – at least as far as ACS is concerned. While paper-based materials are available for those who prefer them, most students opt for the online experience. This gives them access to: 

  • lesson notes which function as a starting point for students’ exploratory learning
  • set tasks designed to get students moving and interacting with others
  • video clips of key concepts
  • self-assessment tasks that reinforce learning
  • open ended assessment tasks 
  • opportunities to engage in problem-based learning projects
  • responsive tutors who tailor their comments to the students’ personal learning objectives 

“The key to changing perceptions about distance learning lies in both the resources and the relationships built between students and tutors,” argues John.  “Learning is limited if you only provide one type of resource. Students may need to read something; do a bit of research; discuss ideas with friends; try out practical skills and then get personalised feedback from a tutor who knows where that student wants to go in their learning journey. It’s quite common for our tutors to write something like

  • ‘ ... good work, you have all the basics in this answer, but what’s your next step in applying these concepts?  ...or
  •  ... here’s a link to an article which might give you some more ideas.’

Assignments may have a set beginning and an ending, but it’s up to the student to build the entire learning landscape:. Students need to use all the resources available to build their understanding of a topic and their place within a world where that learning is thoroughly understood. That’s when real education has happened.”

Are you ready to explore learning in a different way?

ACS offers hundreds of different courses, with a focus on education as explained in this article. Some of the more popular areas of study include:

  • Agriculture
  • Business skills
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Gardening and horticulture
  • Health and fitness
  • Information technology
  • Leisure and tourism
  • Psychology and counselling
  • Writing and editing

Click to explore the range of ACS courses available in these subject areas.

If you have something specific in mind, contact our course counselling team for expert guidance in finding the right course (or courses) to suit you.