Why students’ full learning potential isn’t maximised in higher education (and what we’re doing about it)

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Students learn best when they actively construct their own knowledge and understanding. Adam Brimo explains how the learning platform OpenLearning aims to change the current model of higher education and align it with how students really learn.

Every profession and every professional engages with teaching and learning in some capacity. Yet many individuals go through university or higher education degrees and fail to learn to their full potential.


Because the learning environment is focused on content delivery. In both online and offline educational settings, the structure of teaching and learning is primarily instructional: the lecturer delivers content and the student passively receives it. Lectures and tutorials are teacher-centred and teacher-directed; the teacher possesses the knowledge and power within the learning environment. There is rarely peer-to-peer learning, nor student handover or empowerment within the learning process.

This of course incites some level of learning – if it didn’t, we would all still be stuck in first-year university – but it doesn’t promote that deep, conceptual understanding of a learning area that is the hallmark of rich learning.

Despite the pervasiveness of the instructional model within higher education, how people learn best isn’t through passively receiving content. Rich learning occurs when students actively construct their own knowledge and understanding; when they connect new information with their own world and when they are intrinsically motivated in the process. This deep learning also happens through interaction, discussion and collaboration with others.

Think about a topic you’re most excited and passionate about. Do you want to be actively involved in your own learning process? Do you want to discuss and share your experiences of the topic with your peers? Do you want to connect new knowledge with your current awareness through real world examples, to develop that deeper understanding? Do you want to be intrinsically motivated to learn? Do you want to be empowered?

Or do you want to passively listen to an expert deliver a lecture?

OpenLearning wants to change the current model of higher education, to align with how students really learn. We’re about empowering students in their learning process; where learners can actively construct their own knowledge that is relevant and meaningful to them.

We provide an online learning environment that fosters deep learning, intrinsic motivation and collaboration with other students. We promote dynamic communication through fun and interactive learning communities; where students can discuss concepts, share relevant and meaningful media, and provide peer review, support and feedback in a safe and positive learning space. We are both the Learning Environment and the Student Hangout. Traditional educational models see these as mutually exclusive entities; we see them as the same thing.

Students love doing courses through our platform, because we speak in their language. Individuals and organisations love running courses through our platform, because students are engaged, intrinsically motivated and productive.

The OpenLearning philosophy promotes a lifelong love of learning that facilitates students reaching their full learning potential.


This post was produced by Adam BrimoBrooke Hahn and David Collien, and has been published on OpenForum.

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