Time is a pure public good. It does not discriminate; neither has it entailed any rival characteristics (rival means a good if consumed by one person can no longer be consumed by others; for example apple, if eaten by one person is no longer available for others). It is available equally to all, in quantity as well as intensity. It has never been about what time does to us. It is always about what we do with the time. There is yet another important characteristic associated with time called non-storability. Time passed is time spent. Unlike all other resources that we use in life, time cannot be stored for later use. More so in the field of education wherein students and faculty equally feel crunch of time. In this scenario, it is important for faculty as well as student to prioritize by differentiating between what is vital, what is essential and what is desirable. The VED framework (Vital-Essential-Desirable Framework) works as a guiding principle to optimize learning given the time constraint. It also helps in setting the desired learning outcomes.
Faculty complaining about shortage of time in the classroom seems almost universal. The complaint generally runs like ‘there is a lot to teach but the time given is too short’. Delivering high amount of content in a limited time frame of 60 minutes or 75 minutes is a matter of great anxiety. Often, we also see the episode of faculty overstepping the allotted period time. This eats up the break-time allotted between the two periods for students.
In the first place, we seem to be excessively content oriented. As a faculty, we are tempted to teach everything that falls under the spectrum of the course. Secondly, we do not see the content from VED point of view. All content must undergo VED analysis. This will enable filtering of vital, essential, and desirable. Faculty can decide what proportions of vital, essential, and desirable to be delivered. In order to establish the reasoning for VED, there is a need for backward calculation. Start with desired learning outcome and weave backwardly to differentiate between vital, essential, and desirable. The VED principle is applicable in managing all facets of work where we feel the crunch of time shortage.
Promoting self-learning using VED
Yet another associated benefit is that it can also be used to promote self-learning for students. Part of the syllabus identified as ‘vital’ is brought into the classroom. Vitals are very much concepts and theory-based discussion. There is no compromise on the vital content and faculty engage students in understanding the concept and theories. When it comes to ‘essential’ part of the syllabus, it mostly entails ‘application’ and ‘doing’ part. Such contents can be used for creating short assignments. Topics to fall under ‘essential’ are learnt better in group. The learning outcomes associated with ‘analysis’ and ‘synthesis’ abilities of students can easily be incorporated while setting the assignments based on contents falling under essential. The ‘desirable’ content of the syllabus can create magic if pushed outside the teaching agenda and made into an experiential learning exercise. Such topics are better learnt by students independently without the supervision of faculty.
VED and Bloom’s Taxonomy
VED is amenably linked to Bloom’s taxonomy of learning. The revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (as expressed in term of action verbs) provides cognitive learning process from lower order of thinking to higher order of thinking. The six levels of cognition, ranging from lower order to higher order, are remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create. Clearly, the vital part of the syllabus should be mapped with the lower order of cognition while the desirable part of the syllabus to be mapped with higher orders. The essential part of the syllabus should be somewhere in between, catering to apply and analyze.
The VED is extremely important for students who are looking for optimizing their time plan. Students need to balance out among vital, essential, and desirable for them. Herein as well, a backward calculation would help. Set your expected outcome first, and then weave it backward to differentiate VED and decide on time bound engagement. However, this also means one must have aim in life and willingness to work towards it.
For any further elaboration on VED and Bloom’s Taxonomy, readers may write a request in comment with email.