Growing personal confidence and freedom

,  in his blog post From Learning Outcomes to Personal Corpus tools, writes that our obsession with Learning Outcomes has become the basis for quality and assessment in education.  A Learning Outcome becomes a process of “what a student can do is ‘about’ something, codified by outcome criteria”.  Fear of failure to comply with learning outcomes requirements often leads to inauthentic activities. We need to focus less on the aboutness of learning and begin to help learners discover what is within themselves.

The business of learning outcomes… encourages a mentality with individuals summing up their knowledge with a tick-list of achievements, verified by assessment, but often not demonstrable outside the educational setting. Learning Outcomes have led teachers and learners to believe that ‘aboutness’ of education is what matters: having found the ‘evidence’, the ticked box indicates that the thing that the box is about has been acquired.

Understanding the topic of learning…is to demonstrate fluent patterns of behaviour which others can judge for themselves. Moreover, it is for each individual to find ways in which they can find their own stories and relate their stories to particular topics. The path of learning should be a path of growing personal confidence and freedom.

Where can teachers go to develop the skills, and gain the experience needed, to guide, question, and develop students in ways that relate to each learner’s interests?

Start by registering or How To Teach Online, a massive, open, online course (MOOC) that takes a broad view of teaching online. This type of course is called a ‘connectivist‘ course and is based on the following  types of activity.

  • Pick and Choose
    • You will have access to a wide variety of things to read, watch or play with. There will be a LOT of content associated with this course. You are NOT expected to read and watch everything. Instead, what you should do is PICK AND CHOOSE content that looks interesting to you and is appropriate for you. If it looks too complicated, don’t read it. If it looks boring, move on to the next item.
  • Remix and Repurpose
    • Once you’ve read or watched or listened to some content, your next step is to create something of your own.  Please don’t simply repeat what other people have said. Create something of your own. This is the hardest part. Remember that you are not starting from scratch. Nobody ever creates something from nothing. That’s why we call this section ‘repurpose’ instead of ‘create’. We want to emphasize that you are working with materials you read/watched/listened to. Your goal isn’t to memorize a whole bunch of stuff. Your goal is Practice USING TOOLS. Think of every bit of content you create not simply as content, but as practice using the tool. The content almost doesn’t even matter – what matters is that you apply the tool. This will seem awkward at first, as any tool does. But with practice you’ll become an accomplished creator and critic of ideas and knowledge. And that is the purpose of this course!
  • Share (feed forward)
    • We want you to share your work with other people in the course, and with the world. You don’t have to share. You can work completely in private, not showing anything to anybody. Sharing is and will always be YOUR CHOICE. Sharing in public is harder. People can see your mistakes. People can see you try things you’re not comfortable with. It’s hard, and it’s sometimes embarrassing.  But it’s better. You’ll try harder. You’ll think more about what you’re doing. You’ll get a greater reward – people will see what you’ve created and connect on it- sometimes critically- but often (much more often) with support, help and praise. People really appreciate it when you share. After all, what you’re doing when you share is to create material that other people can learn from. Your sharing creates more content for this course. People appreciate that, you will probably appreciate the content other people in the course share with you.

Sign up here for “How To Teach Online”.

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