On being learner-centered
These are the notes I used to prepare for an interview. I was part of a panel.
- How would you define student-led learning? What does it look like in your organization?
I like to use more learner-focused terminology. Learner vs. Student, for example. We work with online faculty to help them look at their online instruction, and their online course designs through a learner-centered pedagogical lens.
- Involve learners in planning and evaluation of their instruction. Provide choices for them to make their thinking and learning visible and open to feedback from the instructor and from their peers in the course.
- Provide opportunities for learners to have, or participate in, experiential online learning activities.
- Help learners tie what they are learning to how it might be relevant to their job or personal life.
- Rather than focusing on content or knowledge transmission from expert to novice, focus on the construction of knowledge by engaging the learner with questions – their own questions and problems that are real and that they are interested in.
- Give an example of student-led or flexible learning at a macro level and at a micro level
Not sure if this is what you mean, but at a macro level an example could be having learners co-create assessments and rubrics for online course activities. On a micro level it would be giving learners choices in how they demonstrate their mastery, or learning for individual online learning activities/objectives.
- Describe institutional challenges you may have or may face implementing student-led learning.
Online faculty development is a challenge. Faculty buy-in. Online course quality. It is not easy to be learner-centered in practice. It requires an intentionality that does not happen intuitively.
- What are some of the benefits and/or challenges experienced implementing?
Deeper learning and better learner outcomes.
- Student-led learning assumes students are comfortable taking ownership. If they’re not comfortable, how do you get them there?
This is a great question! And a challenge! Many learners come to higher education with limited understanding of, or experiences with, taking ownership for their own learning. So, it is a process to scaffold new behaviors, expectations, and attitudes, and to help them understand how to do that.
In my online course, for example – Intro to Online Teaching, the learners decide what topics (based on their interests and experiences) to explore within the context of the theories and concepts of the course. Additionally, online interaction (or “discussions” ) are learner-led, self-assessed, and peer evaluated, giving them agency in what is taught, how (and sometimes when), and how it is assessed. Of course, as the instructor, I also assess and provide feedback – that is my main role in the course. Learners make their thinking and learning visible to me (and their peers) and I guide and provide feedback to get them to deeper levels of thinking and learning about whatever they have brought to the course in the varied learning activities of the course. So, rather than evaluating a product, I give learners the opportunity to dig deeper into a concept, theory, and their own understanding to move them forward in their thinking/learning- the learning process is by nature, iterative. This is individualized to each learner. It takes a minute for some learners to accept/figure out that they are in the driver’s seat and responsible for what they get out of the course, which will be in direct proportion to what they put into it. That process is hard for those who’d prefer to focus on the product, rather than the process. Process is more important. In my view. In my course.
I work with online faculty to help them understand the affordances of the online teaching and learning environment to support learner-centered pedagogy, to develop learner-centered pedagogical practices/approaches/mind-sets, and to consider learner-centered means of assessing learning that are more authentic given the online environment. It’s hard for them too sometimes!
- What does assessment look like? (sharing examples of ways to generate rubrics — what’s the process for involving students, for example?)
I recommend that all activities in an online course use rubrics and that you engage learners in the co-creation of the rubrics that will be used to assess them and their work. Here is an example of my discussion/interaction rubric: http://etap640.edublogs.org/2009/12/17/my-discussion-post-grading-rubric/
Learners review the rubric and can have input into the criteria. They also must peer-assess each of their classmates posts and self-evaluate using the same rubric. I also rate the posts with the rubric, so they can learn to apply it well.