Education and Ecstasy instead of Education and Agony

April 30, 2013 by EDEN Secretariat   Comments (0)

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an interview with Dr. Bernard Luskin, President-elect of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Media Psychology and Technology

by Eva Suba

   Learning psychologist Bernard Luskin has a series of prizes and an entire carreer in academic institutions. Dr Luskin is considered as one of the pioneers of open, distance and e-learning in the academic world of USA. He revelead earlier, that he will explore psychology of learning & social media in his EDEN Annual Conference keynote speech sharing new knowledge in media psychology that improves learner motivation, provides inspiration and enhances learner satisfaction leading to increased student success. With all the new hypes and buzzing field of technology-enhanced learning, I was interested what his thoughts are on how psychology and learning interact with each other.

ES: In your interview of 2006 you said you think we've just barely scratched the surface yet in the use of media and learning. Where are we standing now 7 years later?

BL: A great deal of rapid identifiable change has occurred in the past seven years since my previous EDEN keynote presentation. MOOCs, Linkedin, Facebook, Google, Bing, Blogging, Webinars, Pod Casts, eBooks and other services have started. Twitter has become quite significant and learning technology has moved forward apace. The MOOC has entered the scene and is creating stimulating conversations and controversy in education. Distance learning has passed the tipping point and the future of distance learning is increasingly clear. Some states, such as California are going to offer distance learning courses in general education, statewide to help alleviate the lack of campus availability. The whole field of learning, from K12 through higher education has advanced. Politics continues and the regulators abound, but once generational acceptance was established and the tipping point reached, the future revealed itself. However, at this stage we have only scratched the surface of the future of distance education …but we have scratched it together.

ES: Coming from the highly evolved US open learning culture, how do you see the European ICT enhanced learning, e-learning, distance education development?

BL: Distance is dead. Distance has been overcome by technology and media psychology. There are still many country boarders and language barriers to worldwide applications in distance learning. However, the European e-learning world has advanced and there is much more international cooperation than in the past.

ES: Brain sciences are rapidly evolving giving us more and more information on how humans and animals actually learn. What are the overlapping areas in your opinion, where media psychology, brain sciences and learning technology create meaningful synergies for learning research?

BL: Brain Science has moved to the forefront of research on learning. New findings from magnetic resonance imaging have enhanced the credibility and understanding of NLP, i.e., Neurolinguistic programming, our understanding of brain plasticity and learning and the knowledge that learning in a positive way can overcome genetic and cultural limitations. This is increasingly understood by scholar practitioners advancing the fields of media psychology, media studies and distance learning. Positive psychology and positive mastery have been widely recognized as ways to improve both individual and group results. New degree and certificate programs in media psychology and media studies are providing a new wave of leaders for the future. More new graduate programs and courses are needed. The opportunity is now.

ES: What are the latest findings of media psychology you find highly relevant for today’s K-12 and higher education?

BL:  There is increased recognition that media psychology is learned one theory at a time. Theories of attention, persuasion, control, mastery, positive psychology, Neurolinguistic programming are now foundational in course development and best practices in teaching and learning. Pscybermedia is a neologism that has become more widely understood. In dissecting a new word such as, Psybermedia, we find that Pscy, i.e., psychology, the study of human behavior, cybernetics, i.e., artificial intelligence, and media, i.e., pictures, graphics and sound, i.e., pscybermedia, has moved into the scholar practitioner lexicon.

ES: Some years ago you foreseen that graduate professional education is going to become sophisticated due to the ubiquitous needs of learners while undergraduate programs will grow significantly. Where do you think the world of learning is right now? Was your prognosis correct?

BL: My various prognoses of seven years ago were correct. The world of learning has advanced. The understanding of brain science, including NLP, Neurolinguistic Programming and understanding that brain plasticity can offset genetic and cultural limitations and have substantially advanced learning psychology. Media studies that assess the results of technology and learning are bringing new knowledge. Learning management systems and student information systems have improved. It is increasingly recognized that that the teacher is at the center of best practices and that personal attention can make the difference between success or failure. New knowledge is helping the traditional learner, the adult learner and is bringing new insights into the ways we work with all types of learning disabilities.

ES: The internet and media has fundamentally transformed mainstream education. How do you think massive open online courses’ (MOOCs) will evolve in the context of learner demand?

BL: MOOCs have a place in education at all levels. There will be credit aggregators who partner with the MOOC providers in order to monetize and grant academic credit for courses offered. Many schools, colleges and universities will begin to accept this credit.
     The MOOC is a new variation of learning opportunity now growing among the many ways that people gain information. Ways include personal discovery, traditional classroom offerings, formal distance degree and certificate programs and more. The answer to the question regarding how the best people learn can be summarized the recognition that successful individuals learn “any way they can.”

ES: Psychology is a course most teacher training institutions build in to their curricula. Do you think there’s a need for institutions to consider media psychology as part of the same curricula? If yes, how do you think it could be woven into the texture of teacher training seamlessly?

BL: Media psychology courses should be offered in all programs in higher education and especially in leadership programs and in teacher education. Understanding psychology is fundamental to learning. Media psychology cuts across all programs and the understanding of theories in psychology applied to media is more important than ever. Understanding media psychology and applying media psychology in the learning world is a 21st century learning imperative. Media psychology can be seamlessly blended into teacher education programs and also included in specific courses.

ES: Motivation is one of the keywords when talking about learning. What is your biggest motivation in your current work today?

BL:  As president elect of The Society of Media Psychology and Technology, Division 46 of the American Psychological Association, I have given priority to

  1. encouraging colleges and universities to offer new degree and certificate programs in media psychology and media studies,
  2. to increasing greater understanding of the nature of media psychology,
  3. to supporting the principle that psychology is best learned one theory at a time and then applied to media, and
  4. to supporting new research initiatives in media studies so our knowledge about media and behavior continues to grow.

ES: This year’s theme for the EDEN Conference is the Joy of Learning. What is your message to the conference participants in preparation for the event?

BL: These are exciting times in education and learning. My personal theme is always “education and ecstasy.” I believe it should replace the old theme of “education and agony.” You become what you think. Positive psychology, the idea of mastery, the growing research that shows that psychovisualization of perfect practice leads to positive results, and the dramatic growth in understanding how people learn now paves the way to the future of a world of learning that is full of joy.
     Knowledge is information put to productive use. The EDEN conference is particularly relevant for those who believe in what they are doing. This includes those of us who are advocates of distance education and media psychology. We believe that it is important to think positively and that the goals of better learning will be achieved through our perseverance. We must work together to see the world from each other’s viewpoints. This will give us a basis for forming and sharing fresh perspectives. The “joy of learning” worldwide will continue to spread. Learning methods and practices will change as we do. We have all of the pieces and we are putting them all together.


This interview is published in the framework of the EDEN Pre-Conference Interview Series. Read all interviews on this blog.

Dr Bernard Luskin is one of the prominent keynote speakers of the "The Joy of Learning' 2013 EDEN Annual Conference. Registration for the conference is still open, read more on the Conference site.


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