Learning2.012: Let Students take control of their Learning.

Wow, what a week.  I arrived back in Kobe at 10 pm on Sunday, hit the ground running on Monday morning. The week was crazy: loads of out of school meetings and events, and I even interviewed for an internal promotion.  So just today, I have finally had the chance to put “pen to paper” ….. or is it “fingers to keyboard”, these days?

Anyway I read a few reflective blogs, and watched some videos, that people have produced since last weekend’s Learning2.012 conference, and they has sparked my own thought processes: what was Learning2.012, for me?

Well, the official theme of this year’s Learning2.0 was “Learning, Changing, Leading”.  I can certainly agree that I learned so much, and will be changing a great deal, and hopefully helping lead that change, as @teachwatts (Dana S. Watts) urged us to do in her keynote address.

From the sessions I attended though, another common thread presented itself.  This was:

Relinquish control over your students’ learning, let them take the lead, let them have some control.

This probably sounds a bit more radical than I intend, but as @Sinvincible (Jane Harris) said, during her Programming Extended Session “Give the students space – and time – to explore and learn.”  Students should figure out how Scratch works themselves, and between themselves. Then they should be the ones who decide how they are going to use it to show their understanding.

In the flipped classroom session, teachers should not be creating the videos for students, said @jutecht (Jeff Utecht).  Let them find the resources themselves.  Teach them the strategies and the skills to be able to find quality sources for content and be able to evaluate their validity.

The idea of Google 20% time in schools, as discussed in an Unconference,  facilitated by Charlotte Diller, (@cdiller) is all about students choosing their own area of learning, and desired product. This is the ultimate of the teacher relinquishing control.  Students find and follow their passions.  The level of learning that occurs as a result is amazing.

This theme also penetrated some of the keynote speeches.  Jabiz Raisdana (@intrepidteacher) spoke of having the students have ownership of the physical space, and online space, for their classes.  Students have direct influence in the layout of the room and its accessories.  Students are given time and space to find their voice online.  Jeff Utecht talked about breaking down that line that separates work (school) and social life. What is wrong with having social conversations in class time, given that we are all doing work in social time as well?  Could we allow students to interact socially during class time if we know they are working during free time?  This last idea is more controversial and difficult for me to entertain, but I can see it is a move towards a less structured school day, which is definitely on its way, with movements such as the flipped classroom starting to grow.

Chris Betcher (@betchaboy) summed it up in his Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom summary from Mike Anderson:  School needs to be less like “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and more like “Mythbusters”.

All in all, it was a fantastic conference.  The format was an improvement on a great Learning2.011.  The quality of the presentations was absolutely outstanding.  I definitely learnt a great deal.  So I will finish by saying, thank you so much to the organizers of Learning2.012: this was a conference that challenged the way I think about teaching, and has given me plenty to grow on for a long time to come.

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About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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