Random Thoughts

Student controlled learning

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The little experiment of mine called teentek.com just produced its first video podcast.

Now some of you might be wondering why this is so amazing to me. I mean we’re 3 1/2 weeks until school’s out and they just now produced their first video podcast?

Because the class sees new students every quarter (8 weeks or 20-40 minute classes if there are no assemblies), it’s hard to get any momentum on projects that take time. I never new 40 minutes was so fast.

This quarter 3 students decided they wanted to produce product reviews for students on the web site. Of course the site is completely ran by them, so they can decide to do whatever they want.

They did ask me for advice (which was nice) and I pointed them to CNet.com to watch product review videos.

From there they controlled the learning.

I have not seen, talked to, or interacted with these three boys in 3 weeks. They checked out the video camera themselves, they taught themselves how to run it, they taught themselves how to import it into Windows Movie Maker, how to edit it, how to render it.

I uploaded it to our school’s YouTube account (although they could have done this as all three have their own account)

So when you watch the video keep this in mind…this is student controlled learning. I hope to sit down with them next week and debrief what they have learned and what they plan to improve for their next video (which was my challenge to them with 3 weeks of school left).

I can’t help to think what this would look like in content area classrooms. If students were in control of their own learning. Why is it that in a tech rich class like this 3 students can go off by themselves for weeks and produce a video learning more skills than would ever be assessed on any test in the process. Yet in the classroom we have a hard time motivating students to learn, to be in control of their own learning. They want to ‘sit and get’ because that’s what they know…that’s how they’ve been trained.

What is it about technology…about a free flowing class like this that allows students to be in control, produce products that they are proud of, and of this writing have been viewed by 28,915 people since September.

When students are in control of their own learning, when they can produce products that are viewed by a true and real audience we allow learning to happen. True learning that goes beyond what can be tested, skills and knowledge that will continue to serve these students well beyond this course…this grade…this year.

School 2.0 is about giving control over to students…allowing learning to flow, to be authentic and to be true to that learner at that time.

[tags]school 2.0, teentek[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. “School 2.0 is about giving control over to students…allowing learning to flow, to be authentic and to be true to that learner at that time.”

    The ring of truth! And on some level it sounds so common-sense,almost “simple”. As an adult, this is the only kind of learning in which I will engage.

    If the learning is to be authentic and true to the learner, doesn’t it have to come about as a result of learner-generated questions? What about those traditional content areas? It is so hard to set the scene so that students naturally generate meaningful questions that will drive their learning. Looking back to my own student days, I can’t picture what would have motivated me to take control of learning physics concepts.

    I think this is the area where teachers need the most help and support. We concentrate on helping teachers learn to use new technologies but I think this will come naturally if we can help teachers frame the content in real-world situations and create authentic needs to use the technologies.

  2. Pingback: Teacher in Development :: Blending Chaos and Coherent into Student Centered Learning :: May :: 2007

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