Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Summer holidays - says who?

I've been offline for the past six weeks or so, taking a break over summer. I'm back into it this week, with a mountain of paperwork on my desk, an overflowing inbox, and Google Reader bursting at the seams! But while I've been relaxing, one of my Marketing students has been continuing to engage with the Marketing community through his blog(s).

Let me introduce Zac Martin, a 19 year-old, undergraduate Marketing student at Monash University. In between going to the beach, partying, and looking for part-time work this summer, Zac has continued to blog about Marketing, taking control of his learning, and building a name (and future) for himself in the process. Like most Gen Y students, social media is part of his life, and it always will be.

I don't expect all of my students to be as motivated as Zac, but there are some serious lessons for all educators here. We should be preparing our courses for many more "Zacs" over the coming years.

This is what Zac is teaching me:
  • The classroom is no longer an isolated space. Our students can (and will) connect with the outside world more than ever before.
  • Learning is not isolated to a 13-week semester. It is a lifelong process, and we should build our courses accordingly.
  • Students can take control of their own learning, changing the role of the teacher from "expert" to "coach".

Thanks Zac - I'm proud to be associated with you - and slightly embarrassed that you've been working while I've been relaxing!


TutorNumeroUno said...

While Zac's efforts are commendable, you almost contradict yourself by conceding you do not expect all students to be as motivated.

So how many students are?

At a guess I would say 10% and I think this is generous.

So you would design courses for 10% of the market? Is there really value for both parties in this? Few will doubt learning is a lifelong process, but for Zac learning outside the confines of Monash may be his inspiration.

I would also argue that the role of the uni tutor - not lecturer - has always been both expert AND coach. Yet this seems to be a role not understood by most academics.

Lets get the driver right first before we tinker with the engine.

Wags said...

@TNU: Some good points... in particular your comments regarding student motivation levels.

Yes - I believe that we should be spending more time and effort tailoring our courses to those who want to learn... it certainly makes the teacher's role more rewarding, not to mention the positive impact on our learners.

Expert/coach - yes, we need to be both. But Zac is an amazing example of a student who is developing a level of knowledge (expertise?) in Social Media that is likely to exceed that of his teachers over the next two years. Pity the traditional "expert" orator who attempts to tell him how to "do" online marketing communications this coming semester!


P.S. What are you teaching this year?

James Rose said...

Good to have you back wags, I've been finding it hard to keep blogging, the beach has just been to hard to refuse. The football season starting again should provide that motivation only 10% of us have.

With regards to student motivation, the real challenge is making the content relevant and interesting, as you know I'm not the most motivated student but when I find something that meets those two criteria I tend to find it hard to stop myself from conducting further research in the area. I dare say a lot of my generation are the same.

Wags said...

@James: Yep - relevance and interest... two important requirements for motivation.

BTW, I've been reading ContestedFooty, and really looking forward to the season starting - and I bet you are too... should help your readership.

James Rose said...


one of our latest posts generated 500 views in a day : )

Go Saints.