Monday, December 10, 2007
Learner centred education
If you want to access a summary of student centred research about teaching and learning download the American Psychological Association's Learner Centred Framework.
Word wide people are arguing for a new approach to learning and schooling, one that includes emerging electronic learning technologies, to better prepare students for a fast changing and complex world.
Secondary schools seem resistant to such voices.
It is a moot point whether schools will have to be 'learner centred' to make use of such emerging technologies or whether such technologies will force schools to change to become learner centred.
A bold new view of education is needed. One that focuses on the needs of learners and the best available knowledge about how humans learn. Getting this knowledge into schools is the problem.
Education is a dynamic process of moving a learner ( of any age) from a novice to an expert. The challenge, as educators, is create learning experiences that capitalize on the richness , creativity and complexity of human learning.
Being learner centred means placing the learner at the centre of the process and, as such, needs to take into account each learners background, experiences, perspectives, talents, interests, capacities and needs. Such a 'personalized' approach is a long way from the thinking that underpinned the development of our current standardized school system.
Research underlying learner centred education confirms that learning is non linear, recursive, continuous, complex, relational and natural in humans.This is contrary to what you hear from many ( mainly secondary) school teachers and is in conflict with our current failure rate of about 20%.
Research supports that learning is enhanced in contexts where learners have supportive relationships with teachers, have a sense of ownership and control over the learning process, and can learn from, and with, each other in safe and trusting learning environments. Prescribed content is no longer the foundation of learning rather rich context and creating an opportunity for learners to make meaning are more relevant
Content needs to be customized to meet learners needs and this demands a new role for teacher as learning advisers and/or co-creators with their students. 'Just in time' learning needs to replace 'just in case' and 'anywhere anytime' describe future learning environments.
We now know enough about teaching and learning to transform our schools. Emerging technology and the creative aspirations of students will place demands on schools for such changes.
Exciting times ahead.