Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning: One teacher’s beginnings of a long journey…

The focus of my recent field study for SFU, is on creating a self-directed study of Ancient Egypt. This is proving to be a very interesting journey indeed. I’ve had to really think about the pedagogy involved and spent a lot of time setting the groundwork through a previous unit. Whether or not this approach is successful, has yet to be discovered. It is taking a lot of analysis of student work examples and reflections. For the purposes of self-reflection I will use this blog to reflect on one student’s presentation.
I have had a lot of presentations from students and am choosing to use these as my data. This particular type of data I are examples of Documents/Artifacts/Student Work. One particular student had been working on the Agriculture of Ancient Egypt. She chose to represent her research using a glog. The glog she produced is an excellent representation of her thinking about presenting and reflecting on what’s been learned.
This particular piece was an excellent example of how to present one’s learning. This student thought about what it was (agriculture) she was researching and created her glog in such a manner that represented this. She added rain, made the colours earthy, added bugs, leaves, etc. She also included a substantial amount of research. What’s more, the research she did she related to present-day agriculture (without being asked). She also included a very good reflection of her learning.
This selection is just one example of students learning. I have been collecting most of their presentations onto slideshare. Since all the students are working on different sections of the project, it’s interesting to see how different their focus of research is. All of the data is beginning to tell me a story. The story that is emerging is one of motivation. I have found that because students are allowed to focus on what they want to learn, they are not paying attention to what others are doing. They have realized that there is no right or when it comes to learning. It has been very interesting to watch them look through books, websites, etc., and pick out what they want to focus on. Everybody’s focus is different. They have also realized that there is no right or wrong way to represent what they’ve learned. I’ve had powerpoints, imovies, photostory, written reports, posters, glogs, blogs, videos, garage band, pictures…you name it; I’ve had it. It is turning out to be a fabulous journey for all of us.
However, this data is leading me to ask myself questions. I’m curious to survey the students at the end of this unit to find their reactions to self-directed learning. Will they want to do another unit in this fashion? What have they learned about themselves? What have they learned about their classmates? Are they satisfied with what they’ve done? It will be interesting to read their final reflections and compare them to my observations of what’s been happening. If I think about my observations, I have thoroughly convinced myself that this is an excellent way to teach a unit. It has taken a lot of time to set up, but has been incredibly rewarding as I am not stressing about homework, lesson plans, and marking 60 assignments at once. What’s more, I do not see my students stressing either! Another very important observation has been that not all students have chosen to represent their learning using technology. Instead, they are choosing to explore different ways to represent it with each section they’re researching. This has reaffirmed the idea that using technology in teaching is just one tool and one tool that not all students want to use all the time. When I started, I figured the opposite. This leads me to ask myself: What comes first? The pedagogy or the technology? Hmmm…Thoughts????

Key words:
Pedagogy; self-directed learning; technology

1 comment:

  1. Great questions. Technology is great and often I find that I focus on the technology more than the pedagogy. I suppose that we are already "teaching " with the pedagogy as experienced teachers, so we are looking for technology to assist us in making the learning process more exciting.
    Rose Ngo