Those in the field of education have been innovating novel learning strategies to keep up with the changing demands of modern life and a rapidly evolving workplace. Today’s students are looking at different ways to complete their studies that are more tailored to their particular leaning styles. In addition, the concept of “the classroom” has been revisited—within the international teaching community and right here in Taiwan—as well. Phenomena such as flipped classroom and MOOCs, as well as tools such as Google Classroom and Zoom, benefit students who may need a more flexible schedule to maximize their learning performance, or simply to fit their busy schedules. Most of us have felt frustration at some point that a class or topic that we really wanted to study was scheduled at the same time as another important class, or was already full, or perhaps just not offered altogether. Many of these personal endeavors which bring so much joy and fulfillment are then just dropped entirely.
This is where CIA’s concept of “self-study” comes in. Students at our institution come to us with a wide variety of experience in terms of academics, cultural learning and the Fine Arts, athletics, etc. As mentioned above, it is tragic that so many students have to give up on one of their true interests due to the heavy burden of homework on their available time, or the fact that such interests are not available in the standard curriculum. At CIA, students can create a self-study plan and receive credit for time devoted to their passions.
Any student who wishes to complete the self-study course for credit first needs to come up with a proposal as to what goals they wish to achieve, and the necessary program to reach those goals. They should look at their area of study from two points of view: quantitatively, and qualitatively. That is, they need to determine how much time, and in what specific direction, they need to apply that time. For example, a student with a self-study course in literature would need to read a certain number of novels and report on them in a unique or enlightening way (presentations, reviews, journals, etc.). Likewise, a musician would need to put in the requisite number of hours, followed up by some type of performance or recording.
The benefits of independent learning are now widely accepted by education researchers. In the year 2020, when the way we live has undergone dramatic changes, the timing is perfect for rethinking what exactly “school” is, and how it can best prepare students for a rapidly evolving future. The self-study program—with the assistance of advisors, peers, and faculty right here at CIA—can set students on the correct path towards motivated and meaningful life-long learning.