If you’ve been looking for one site that covers everything you need to know to become more effective at learning and studying, you’ll find it at Joe Landsberger’s site www.StudyGs.net, “Study Guides and Strategies.” Not only does he provide information on learning methodologies, studying techniques, and both group and individual classroom issues, the site can be translated into dozens of other languages with a simple click of a button. This makes the information easily accessible to people around the world, providing an opportunity to share educational best practices with teachers and students worldwide. We talked to Joe Landsberger recently about the work he has done to develop this valuable educational resource.
UV: Back in 1996 when you first started the Study Guides project, the internet wasn’t a part of everyday life like it is now. Did you come up with the idea as a web-based information system, or was this something that you developed elsewhere and decided to move on line?
JL: Back in 1996 when I first started the Study Guides project, the internet wasn’t a part of everyday life like it is now. At a conference I spoke with a colleague from Rutgers who had a database on a disk–and I had the inspiration to put it on the Internet. At that time I was experimenting with Websites, and thought it was a perfect project/application for a Website. I received permission to do so, then edited and continued to develop other guides in a format conducive to a Webpage. Interestingly I developed a template back then that I follow to this day: consistent navigation, bulleted-style text, and an intuitive menu. It worked!
UV: One of the things that makes your site unique is that it offers translated pages as well as English versions. Do you have a background in working, living, or teaching overseas, or teaching English as a Second Language?
JL: Almost from the get-go, I started to receive international email from educators, students and even parents! Since I had a background in ESL, taught in a middle school in Togo West Africa, and generally was passionate about providing resources in “native” languages, I launched a translation project. The first was Chinese, then quickly into French, German, Spanish and Arabic. What a learning experience, especially with right-to-left scripts!
UV: How have attitudes in the United States towards education and learning changed in the last 20 years?
JL: I don’t know how attitudes in the United States towards education and learning have changed in the last 20 years, but I do know that traffic on my Website has never decreased, from comparable months and years. In 2012 there were over 12 million visitors.
UV: “Continuing education” has become a well-known phrase as more adults are being required to learn new skills to adapt to a difficult and competitive employment landscape. How can people best use your site to prepare for changing jobs, or even careers?
JL: In the world of “continuing education” students, as adults and younger, are taking responsibility to search and find strategies for improving nto only their study habits, but also job skills. For example, in a search on “time management” in Google, my guide is one of the most popular guides, out of over 1 billion Websites it is often listed second. However the key is that first by searching someone is interested in self-improvement, second, that guide’s popularity must mean it is effective. However, it will only be effective as applied and practiced. This is a lesson for all information on the Internet.
UV: We noticed that the summary you prepared for your presentation at the International Conference on Learning in London last summer included the fact that the most popular topic for visitors from Spanish-speaking countries was “concept mapping” while people in Sweden wanted more information on “managing stress” and the French asked for strategies for better “active listening.” Do you find that people in different countries have different educational goals and needs?