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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Professionalism skills in pajamas? Western releases WeLearn

From coding boot camps to music masterclasses, WeLearn provides a collection of educational tools for the community

Illustration of a person using online learning. Some students are using their time to continue their learning through online learning sites.
Illustration of a person using online learning. Some students are using their time to continue their learning through online learning sites. // Photo by Delesign Graphics from Iconscout.com

By Lauryn Haywood

Personal wellness during the pandemic can mean taking a stroll outside or cooking your favorite dinner, but for lifelong learners, mastering a new idea is the peak of self-care.

Now the lifelong learners of Western Washington University can revel in the newest online learning resource offered by the university: WeLearn.

WeLearn is an online resource released by Western less than a year ago to help engage people wherever they are in their schooling, age or career path.

WeLearn’s topics range from art and grant writing to border policy research. Many of these resources are free, but others are paid. You can learn how to write grants in a 3-month course for $595 or take a stroll through Western’s sculpture park free of charge. WeLearn also offers many free speaker presentations on a variety of topics.

Brian Gore, a content marketing manager from Cerego, a popular adaptive online learning site that uses artificial intelligence, said successful and engaging learning through an online platform can be a difficult feat if not done properly.

Cerego uses Bloom levels of understanding, which breaks down steps to fully understand a topic for the learner. 

“An effective way to learn is not to cram,” Gore said. “Your brain can lose that crammed information even after 24 hours.”

The Whatcom Learning Lab, a nonprofit that provides structured literacy instruction to low-income students who can’t afford private tutoring, uses practical applications of concepts to cement learning.

Having students apply what they learned is a critical part of effective learning, said Kim Mallory, assistant director of the Whatcom Learning Lab. 

“One of the most important things is making sure that they can apply their learning,” Mallory said. “A lot of times we can do something in one setting, but then when we’re not in that setting, it’s more difficult to show your improvements.”

Robert Squires, the vice provost of outreach and continued education at Western, said WeLearn materials are geared toward more than current Western students.

“We wanted to be able to highlight resources that Western has that can create a community [which] could create support for people who are associated with the university such as alumni, current staff, students, or whomever,” Squires said. 

Squires said WeLearn is a great choice for people looking for a non-credit-based option that focuses on professional credentials or are simply curious.

“Whether they’re a youth or over 80 and still engaged in learning, we wanted to present what Western has to offer with more of that personalized interaction,” Squires said. 
More information about accessing and using WeLearn can be found here.


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