Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Challenge all students

What is "abundance learning?"  It sounds incredible.  Who among us does not want, not just learning, but abundance learning?  I ran across this term in a recent Campus Technology blog (thank you Professor Guffey!). In this post, Trent Batson writes about in-class and out-of-class learning:

"[N]ow, student-centered learning has, as a concept, particularly in the past five years, come to encompass a vastly wider variety of choices, about how to design and plan for it....the distinction is not just rhetorical, but a life style distinction: scarcity learning (content delivery) in the classroom or abundance learning (discovery) often out in real-world situations. In scarcity learning, the student is the target for delivery systems, while in abundance learning the student is the locus, the starting point, of learning.

"While both scarcity learning (predictable, more controlled) and abundance learning (discovery, inventiveness) have their values, the confounding factor is the question, not about what students or faculty members simply like, but instead: What kind of approach best prepares students to become life long learners, always curious, not afraid of the inevitable changes that will occur in their lifetime?"

Asking students to regain their curiosity, to become inventive and engaged in discovery, is perhaps the hardest task we have as teachers.  Think of the challenges of today's curriculum in two ways.  Students are challenged to change their assumptions, become better at learning, and direct their own learning outside of class time.  Teachers are challenged to better design courses for teaching and learning and to be intentional about use of time both in and out of class. If we say that we want student-centered learning, then think of the implications for us.  Who is at the center of our rooms, ourselves or our students?  Who is doing all the work with the textbook, us (for lectures and tests) or our students (taking notes, studying in groups)?  Who is answering the questions, us or our students?

I have to admit, I love course design.  The pot of gold is the course that is organized, directive, effective for every student in the room, and teaches students to be both critical and creative thinkers.  One of these days my course will be perfect.  Won't yours?

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