Ownership in students’ learning

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I have always wanted my students to be responsible in their learning process. In other words, I have always wanted them to own their learning process.

Biggs and Tang (2011) explained that allowing learners to own their learning process means to allow learners to engage with the process itself, which contributes on the effectiveness of the learning process.

Based on my practice-teaching experience, there are three STEPS in the process of empowering students to become owners in their learning process.

Step 1. Inform / Explain

Step 1 is done during the first class. When the teacher explained the assignments how the class will be managed, and the expectations of the teacher towards the students, the teacher will relate these items to the need to be responsible in their own learning.

Step 2. Practice

A gentle reminder, empowering students as owners does not happen within a snap of a finger.

Next step is to allow the students to practice what was preached during the first class. This gives them time to acclimatize to the role. There is no limit to the time duration as it depends on the type of students for your course. Practice can be channeled via assignment tasks.

For example, the students were asked to reflect via blog posting. In each of their reflection, they were told to write anything on the weekly learnt topics which they felt doubtful, or inspiring. Through this active thought writing, the students are engaged in their learning. This occurs when the students would be able to see clarity in their learning. Another suggested task assignment which provides a firm platform to learning ownership would be e-Portfolio.

Step 3. Sustain

In this final step, be ready with constructive compliments. Show the students how the activities done during the “practice” step assist their learning. These captured learning moment, in my opinion, need to be shown to the students. Consequently, the students would acknowledged that learning process. This step has to be done frequently, perhaps, weekly.

With these simple steps checked, the teacher would be able to create ownership amongst students’ learning.

On a similar note, I come across this article-The Architecture of Ownership by Adam Fletcher which wrote about the types of student ownership. Which one would you pick for your students? For my classroom situation, I choose students as planners and teachers.

Click on the link below to read more about the article:-

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov08/vol66/num03/The-Architecture-of-Ownership.aspx

To my readers, do you have other steps to add in or share to develop learning ownership among the students? Do share by clicking the comments button.

Reference:

Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. Maidenhead, UK: McGraw-Hill and Open University Press.

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Is there a right digital tool for my classroom?

Digital tools are here to stay. Our generation X and Y are quickly embracing the digital era. Even as we are reading this article, there will be new digital tools being created. It is not only physical tools such tablets, smartphones, but also software applications. In this article, we pay a call to software applications. Software applications can either be bought or free. These applications can be both offline and online. Moreover, the applications are divided to various categories for instance social media tools, learning management system (LMS) tools and curator tools. Indeed, there are various tools to choose from the shelves. Since the teachers are spoilt with myriad of tools which can be used to enhance the teaching and learning experience for the students, they need to be very selective in picking the appropriate digital tool to serve the said purpose.

Like choosing a product from the supermarket shelf, identifying the suitable digital tool for teaching and requires extra work. This is because each digital tool has affordances and limitations. In other words, digital tools are not perfect in nature. But the teacher needs to learn how to work with the limitations while maximizing the affordances to achieve the results.

The other things which cannot be ignored when choosing a digital tool are the content and the type of students. Content, here, refers to the taught topic. The teacher has to figure what digital tool can highlight the topic well. For example, what is the tool best used for teaching history? Would it be a blogging tool or a social media tool such as Twitter? Or could it be a curator tool like Pinterest? Of course, besides the content, it is necessary to look at the learning outcomes which we want the students to achieve at the end of the lesson. It is also crucial to involve the audience or the end users a.k.a the students when deciding upon a digital tool. The age group of the students and their ability in mastering the technology come into the picture. Students in the age group between 13 to 15 years old and the age group of 10 to 11 years old would have different approach in cognitively adapting to technology. At the same time, the students’ ability to master the skill has to be considered. On that account, we need to look at the user interface of the digital tool. Last, but not least, another factor to deal with is time. How much time is allocated to achieve the learning outcome? Is it short term or long term? Yes, time does influence the type of digital tool.

With all these aspects checked-out on the shopping list, the teacher can purchased the digital tool for the taught course.

I’m sure there are more items to list that would be considered before “purchasing” the digital tool. Let me know in the comments and add your thoughts to the discussion!

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Earning wings to be a Digital Tools Fairy

It goes without saying that digital tools bring out the best element in the teaching and learning experience. Amidst the picturesque environment, the following questions kept on raging in the teachers’ mind:

How do I use Twitter in teaching?

When do I start using Flipped Learning?

Can Pod-cast be used for a large class?

How do I make Moodle fun?

These are the type of questions which are commonly asked by the teachers. Unfortunately, there are some who will be drowned and defeated by these unanswered questions. At the end of the day, they become the Grinch of Digital tools. It is somehow sad to see such outcome. It is a losing situation for both the teachers and the students.

Are there any keys to unlock this plague?

The answer: Yes. There are FOUR keys to unlock the frustration and throw a lifeboat to bring back the Grinch of Digital tools into the path of the Digital Tools Fairy.

Key 1: Start with Short and Simple

When I was using digital tools for my classes, I was carried away by my excitement. I wanted to do big and complicated. I wanted a flashy entrance with a flashier ending. I thought it will not do if it is not big and complicated. The vision crumbled. I received a reality check. For someone who is new to applying digital tools to teaching and learning, try something simple, within your capacity. Once you get the hang of it, as Buzz Lightyear from ToyStory says, “To infinity and beyond.” Now the question: Where can I get the ideas to start? My reply: Please proceed to Key 2.

Key 2: Google

There are plenty of resources out there to get the ball moving. Many teachers from all over the world have tried and in fact, blogged and reflected on applying digital tools for teaching and learning. Some even created recipes for teaching in a blended environment in the form of e-book. The best part, some of the e-books are free to download. All you need to do is download these precious things and replicate some of the steps. Reason being, their students and teaching content will be different from our local shores. Hence, there is a need to tweak some parts of the recipes. Another cool part for this Key; is the creativity aspect. I am amazed to read so many brilliant ideas in bringing out the best in the digital tools.

This brings us to Key 3.

Key 3: Try and try again

Applying digital tools for teaching and learning is not a first time perfect success story. There will be the unexpected issues which can throw you off the platform. But, you see, that is the best part. When issues happen, I use that to polish my steps in applying digital tools. I remember at one time, I applied YouTube for teaching and learning for three semesters. Each semester brought out something new which I did not foresee even though I felt at first I was meticulous in my teaching plan. So, do not let one failure or mistake or “I am not getting anywhere” or “I hit the wall” clip your Fairy wings.

Key 4: Attend seminars / webinars / conference

The final key will be to attend seminars / webinars / conferences. No, you don’t need to buy an international plane ticket to attend these events. In fact, in Malaysia, there are such activities all year round organized by our local higher institutions. One will be spoilt with the numerous choices. Some are free while some are not. Even with a fee-stamp, it is an opportunity which should not be passed. By attending these events, you will have the chance to network either with the speakers or participants whom can help in the gaining the upper-hand in the Technology Integrated Learning Environment.

With the FOUR KEYS in your possession, you have officially gained the upper-hand in the technology integrated learning environment. Time to get those Digital tools Fairy wings!

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