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From Consumers to Producers of Knowledge

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

— John Keating, Dead Poets Society, 1989

When we incorporate active learning strategies in and out of the classroom as well as build supporting resources such as active learning classrooms (ALCs), where many of these strategies can be applied to their fullest potential, we naturally inspire our students to generate ideas, solve problems, and apply necessary critical thinking skills.

The integration of Active Learning, therefore, will take some very large steps forward from the less successfull traditional approach of training our students to be passive learners and simply consumers of knowledge as we shift to the more effective hands-on active learning model, which challenges and empowers students to apply information learned and literally become producers of that knowledge.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Beginning with Charles Darwin's first encounter with the teeming ecosystem of the coral reef and drawing connections to the intellectual hyperproductivity of modern megacities and to the instant success of YouTube, Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, shows us that the question we really need to ask is:

"What kind of environment fosters the development of good ideas?"

Higher Education needs to ask this same question. The answer, or at least a large part of it, is active learning.

Learning by Doing

"Just Do It", one of the most recognized slogans in advertising history, was coined at a 1988 meeting of Nike's ad agency Wieden and Kennnedy. According to company lore, Dan Weiden reportedly said, "You Nike guys. You just do it." The rest, as they say, is (advertising) history. 

But this slogan can be applied to more than just a shoe company's trademark. In education, this "Just Do It" attitude is key to active learning. Research shows that students retain only about 10% of what they read, yet astonishly they retain about 90% of what they do.

Simply put, learning by doing shows better results.

The article Entrepreneurs Should Take Advice from Nike: Just Do It! (US News & World Report, August 17, 2012 By illustrates how Nike's "Just Do It" attitude is necessary for entrepreneurship: vision & passion, risk & reward, and the drive to achieve are all part of the recipe for success. The article goes on to explore how "skill and experience are gained by following the Nike dictate: Just Do It!"

These fundamental components of what makes a good entrepreneur can be applied just the same when asking the same question in an educational context: What Makes a Good Learner?

Excerpt from article:

"Doing is all-important. I believe the sport apparel and equipment manufacturer, Nike, got it right in their long-running marketing campaign. "Just Do It!" applies to sport, where success in execution is all important, but it certainly also applies in business. Training and education in law, accounting, marketing, and the associated business skills—while they are ultimately necessary to a successful enterprise—exist in a marketplace where they can be "purchased" as and when needed. What cannot be purchased is the vision and passion for success required to take an idea and turn it into a business. And idea is not the same thing as a business. Nor can one buy the willingness to personally risk everything—yet that is precisely what every entrepreneur must do in order to be succeed." (Read full article) 

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