Students collaborating in Google Docs, blogging in WordPress, creating in iMovie, posting on YouTube and programming in Scratch; the end of another tech-rich day at Alcuin College … phew!
Allowing students to achieve identified learning outcomes in a manner most suitable to them, while providing them with the opportunities to determine when, how and with what they choose to learn, are probably the most fundamental issues in establishing a meaningful and authentic learning experience. It should come as no surprise that these concepts flow quite naturally from the three components of an authentic learning experience (quoted from the previous post):
- engagement (meaningful brain activity, not to be confused with entertainment),
- relevant and compelling assignments (requiring calculation, manipulation and
synthesis; not merely searching and finding basic information), and
- a high level of personalisation (allowing for immediate individualised feedback, choice of application and ensuring that learning is at an appropriate level).
This understanding is not new; in fact, most adults will acknowledge that these three components are timeless (as Chickering and Gamson have pointed out, and as will be discussed in a future posting). Yet, after decades of boring and uninspiring education, there is little evidence that we are actually implementing any of the three components of authentic learning in our classrooms. Technologically, platform-independent schools1. are few and far between, and students are still required to use whatever technology the school chooses to permit/favour at any given time. This is not natural; it is not organic. It is artificial beyond belief.
A great way to start changing the learning environment in a meaningful way is as simple as welcoming the technology that students wish to bring to their learning. This will initiate a subtle learning revolution that will be evolutionary in its effect. Not only will this foster engagement, independence and personalisation; it will certainly go a long way to make learning much more relevant and compelling. As Sir Ken Robinson so convincingly says: “Bring on the revolution!”
Eddie de Beer
1. For the purpose of this post, “platform independence” refers to the use of multiple, portable technology devices in schools: PC (laptop and tablet computers), Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac computers), Android and Blackberry (tablets, cell and smart phones) devices; as well as software/web-based technologies that can run on these multiple hardware platforms.