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Feb 7 / Valerie Sobczak

21 Days of TED, Day 3: Learning Communities and John Green

College gives you the chance to learn as much as you can about as many different things as possible before you are unleashed on the world, head full and hopefully ready for a career. But, trying to soak up as much information as you can from the back of a lecture hall, thinking more about having missed breakfast than the fact that you’re missing the facts in your lecture isn’t the way to learn as much as you can about the things you want to learn about.

To learn the things you want to know, not just the things you need to know, you must take charge and create your own learning. Learning communities have been around practically since the beginning of learning. As the Greeks discussed their principles and philosophies both in their formal study and casual conversation, we discuss our own knowledge both in the classroom and outside in the world. College study groups and formal learning groups can be great tools for supplementing classroom learning, but as more and more of us turn away from strict and formal classroom learning, we turn to the internet not only for the information we need, but the information we want.

This is where John Green comes in. John Green is one of my favorite People on the Internet. He is an author, a vlogger, a huge nerd, and a producer of online educational content. With his brother Hank, he started the Brotherhood 2.0 project, during which they ceased all textual communication and corresponded through YouTube. They still vlog on the Vlogbrothers channel, and also work on their own individual projects like John’s Crash Course and Hank’s Sci Show, among several others. The focus of many of their programs is on creating an entertaining way to learn. Rather than presenting information on, say, Emily Dickinson in the same lecture format any student could get in the classroom, colourful graphics, laser beam eyes, and a style usually seen more often on television than in anything related to school. I find myself more interested in learning using this format, and use videos from Crash Course and other online educators, like Khan Academy not only to supplement and increase my understanding of what I’m learning in class, but also to entertain myself. Learning is already something I like to do, but including the internet as my learning community makes it even more fun!

In his talk from TEDxIndianapolis, John Green talks about what spurred him to become an avid learner and also about his experiences with online learning communities. Watch the video here, and then share in the comments: What is your learning community? Do you participate in an in-person group, or chat with others online, or both? How does your learning community impact your learning?


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  1. Lisa Tarnas / Mar 16 2013

    Glad to see you active on your blog again. You amaze me with your insight.

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