Meaning and Importance of Unstructured Learning

What is unstructured learning?

A typical classroom with set curricular boundaries is the best example of structured learning. Years of experience from educationists give us ample evidence to show that structured learning has not ensured learning within schools. New concepts of collaboration, project based learning are all extensions to enhance and engage students in the learning process.

Why is it important?

Unstructured learning is more of a ‘trial and error’ learning, more focussed on individual interests and abilities. The result of such unstructured learning is proved to be successful always. To learn cycling is an individual’s choice and this learning becomes unstructured as they learn, not only riding a cycle but also other useful norms associated with the process of riding - starting from road signals to level crossing to balancing between wheels. Similarly, Gaming is an important part of unstructured learning. Gaming designs incorporate many valid aspects which are more logical and applicative, hence understanding becomes easy.

Primary sector of education has more of unstructured activities, however it is more designed to develop the ‘motor skills’ among the students rather than to facilitate formal learning.  However, when designed in a proper order this type of learning develops other areas of enrichment. The learning adopts not only cognitive and social skills but also environmental awareness which benefits learners in a long run.

It is an established fact that experiential and engaged learning produces better outcome than a routine book based learning. In order to achieve this in our curriculum, we can bring forth addition of games into the classroom. Playing a game online or in the ground should have its own directions towards learning concepts. For example, a football game can be focussed on angles and directions. This type of focus on unstructured activities towards structural learning needs a more vigilant and alert moderator. The teacher focus on learning should now be to list the unstructured work and convert it to structural concepts that allows students to imagine and connect.

The teachers’ work thus becomes to designs such work, in order to do so, need to know the intricacies of the exploration related. Unstructured learning can sometimes take student curiosity to areas beyond their understanding. Careful steering off from such areas without abrupt diversion becomes essential on the part of the teacher. An ordinary fishing activity can allow students to learn about different types of fishes, their habitat, their food and design of fishing rods.

In fact the most tedious job for the teacher is to observe and engage students. Safe environments, parks, shallow fishing grounds will be some of the safe areas to incorporate such learning. Learning is not considered complete without involving parents. Inclusion of willing parents in such activities can also reduce the financial burden of extra person from the school end. It is safer to say that sound knowledge of less items is better than mere degrees which does not support understanding or application.

Today’s world requires action oriented people and not task oriented people. Sustainability needs to become the focus and this can be achieved only when student focus lies on the real world rather than a hypothetical environment of a classroom.

About the Author
I work as Academic Coordinator at Nalanda Educational Institutions, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Worked in implementing Technology supportive curriculum in our organisation. Trainer and Curriculum designer for technology based Curriculum.

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