Taking Control

As educators, we sometimes bat around terms like “student-centered” when we are talking about learning and teaching in the classroom. A recent article by Katrina Schwartz features some of the ideas by Alan November that may make this term and this idea, more clear.

I wanted to pull a few out as we explore the concept of students taking control of their learning.

  1. “November says that instant feedback trend should be embraced as a powerful learning tool.” Instant feedback, the author points out, is something built into video games, but also activities an engineer might engage in, such as writing a compute program. By extension, tools we can use to give feedback during a quiz are better than a quiz that just tallies up a score at the end. We need to find tools and methods that provide students quick, and if possible, continuous feedback loops.
  2. “The benefit of technology is that is has opened the door on the scope of global problems that students can involve themselves with, making their problem solving skills immediately relevant and encouraging self-direction.” This reminds me of the challenge-based learning model espoused by Apple several years ago, out of their ADE community. It certainly resonates with a number of our G21 projects.
  3. “Have students lost the ability to define the question?” I love stopping to ask students what they are doing, or better yet, “what are you learning right now?” There is such a satisfying feeling when a student can say “Right now, I’m trying to figure out…” or “We’re studying…” It’s clear with these types of responses that students are owning the learning process a little bit more. The next step is directing them how to ask big questions, embracing an inquiry-based approach to learning, so that conversations might be “I don’t know how this works, but I’d like to know (this) and (that)… gimme a second, and let me what I can find…” It’s teaching question-creating but also how to leverage the internet to course-correct their thinking, too.
  4. Role forming should take place. “One way to replicate that ownership now is to give students classroom jobs, allowing them to contribute something powerful to the classroom dynamic.” You see this most often in the context of a project-based approach, where students learn their role within the larger group, developing a mindset around working collaboratively. But there’s no reason, following November, why this concept cannot be expanded to an entire classroom or even a school.

More of November’s idea’s are found here.