11 June 2013

Moving Towards Ownership

In my world, dates begin to ripen while students spend their last evenings revising for final exams. As many other colleagues who are ending their academic year, I too look forward to long summer days where the quiet of routine may open other worlds of knowing for me. 

Knowing. Learning. Neither ends at the school gate nor at the end of an academic year. Many educators who I know, will be using their summer breaks to study and do professional development, attend conferences, reflect on the past school year and prepare for the end of August. 

The most successful educators I know, are those who take ownership of their learning. If on the one hand, a digital learning environment paves the way for students to take ownership of their personal learning process, educators too need to take that step and make professional development part of their own lives. This is not to say that teachers should not take time out over summer; not at all! Change of scenery, change of pace and activities all help to boost creativity and re-charge the much needed energies for daily life.  
Learning autonomy have been on my mind constantly, with the need for learner responsibility and initiative - here, "learner" including teachers as well.

It is by taking responsibility for learning that teachers begin taking ownership. It is with the richness of that experience that they then can more transparently guide students towards their own ownership of learning, towards building their own learning ecology.  

It is easily understandable that students who were born with the digital at their finger tips will not become excited with the mere introduction of digital tech in the classroom. Checking Facebook or Instagram updates will always be far more appealing. However, modelling how one can create a positive digital learning ecology is increasingly more relevant as more and more institutions take up digital tech in classrooms. 

The image above has missing pieces. Just as learning does, for learning is not linear. Nor is it disconnected from others. In this sense, learning needs connection and dialogue with others. Learning contexts may differ, local culture will definitely differ, yet educators share more in common than they may initially think. Youth today is far more connected - why won't educators take step forward as well? 

And increasingly, I wonder - it is not only individuals who are connected, but resources as well (example: reading blogs and curated topics). 

With these thoughts in mind, I'd like to mention Parlor as a site to explore over summer. 

So what is Parlor?

"Parlor is a browser add-on that sits in your browser and measures reading activity on a limited set of sites defined in a Class Reading List. Parlor also allows you to flag (i.e. highlight), tag and share excerpts from anywhere on the web to a Class Feed where you can also see a dashboard of your personal reading activity as compared to the class as a whole. The Feed is also where you can view Topic, Sentiment and Theme Clouds that show the topics students are reading about (e.g. State of the Union, Transit in New Delhi, Baseball Trades) what they think of them (e.g. skeptical, confused, in awe) and the course concepts they're relating to, which you define."

Asking students to reflect on readings at both an emotional and cognitive level, is one way of providing learners with that much needed learning ownership. 

By applying for a pilot run, you can see whether Parlor would be suitable for your teaching context. 

Ownership in learning does not happen all of a sudden nor because it was an order from above. Ownership comes from within - no matter where one finds him/herself. 

How will you be moving towards learning ownership?

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