Enriched versus Impoverished Learning Environments
Very simply, enriched environments coupled with play, social interaction, care, and challenges are important for learning. All of these factors are significant to the growth and strength of dendrites!
Marian Diamond, 1998; URL
In my experience, I have had had many amazing teachers and had been inspired to work hard to become one myself. I especially enjoyed working on online independent courses as a graduate student at Athabasca University. I was able to conduct independent studies via blogging with the help of one mentor for a 15 month learning period. I was able to learn so much within the context of a previously discussed plan of learning.
Having said that, there was one impoverished learning experience that has stood out as particularly unpleasant.
One correspondence course I needed to take was first-year Geology to fulfill a science course breadth requirement as part of completing my degree. I did my best, listening to CDs and reading the textbook, and even attempting the lab activities with the box of rocks. I was out of my comfort zone. This was before the age of YouTube and the World Wide Web was pretty young then, too. The issue was that I was really not motivated to learn, but to just pass. Some topics were quite interesting, and I did my best to absorb the materials. There was a lot of new terms I had no background in. There was no direct involvement with the professor or the Teaching Assistant, except when it came to marking my work and sending back the graded assignments. I really had no idea on how to complete the worksheets, and handed in a partly completed assignment – I did not even bother to guess. So, along with the crummy grade of 6.5 out of 10 for that worksheet, I got a lot of comments about how I could have completed the assignment, and where to find the answers in the book and notes and videos. Honestly, the TA was a bit dismayed I cared so little. All in all, I passed the course with C+, learned a lot, worked as hard as I could, but made no connection and had no contact with the Professor or TA.
On the plus side, I learned a lot about how not to design and deliver a distance course. I incorporated my experiences into an essay I wrote for another course and did quite well on that assignment. I reassured myself I did quite well but was left perplexed about my total lack of motivation to connect with the professor or in some way become more engaged.