Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Co-Creating Value in Education

As I watched one of my students nearly fall asleep in my morning class, I thought about how, sometimes, we are working with students who just refuse to work with us, no matter what we do.  This week, Tenn TLC director Dave Schumann spoke to his department about the co-creation of value in education.  We have been discussing this at the center, about how to increase students' sense of responsibility, how to get them engaged in learning, and thus to deepen their learning experiences.   I can be engaging until the cows come home--arranging for group work, asking students to reflect on course material, calling students up to the board to work on problems--but students have to want to be engaged, at least enough for us to pull them in. 

I had a lesson in business this week, about the "co-creation of value" and how consumers are involved in products and production.  Dave defines co-creation of value in education as "
Students and their instructor(s) working together as a learning community with shared responsibility to create and complete the learning experiences necessary to achieve the desired outcomes of the course."   The idea of sharing responsibility is particularly interesting but also puzzling.  I asked myself, don't I already do this in my class?  Aren't students responsible for reading, learning the material, participating in class, and taking tests? Have I created shared responsibility with this scenario?  

To share implies the act of giving from one to another and perhaps a mutual use of something.  To share learning implies that we are engaged together in the course.  Students need to hear their responsibilities outlined in the context of this dual role.  Define the responsibility for the student and tell the student what your responsibilities are.  Let the students hold you accountable.  One of our roles is to provide students with "time and opportunities to take responsibility at all levels of learning."   So, ask yourself:
  • How do I use time in the classroom?
  • Am I reaching all levels of learning (from memorization to analysis to evaluation and creation of knowledge)?
  • What opportunities do my students have to learn?
  • Do I ask students about their learning and listen to their answers?
  • When I work with students, are we innovative?  
  • Is my classroom student-centered?
These questions parallel questions asked in business contexts about production (to sample that conversation, take a look at this blog entry on involving customers in the creation of value using the internet).  

When I read John Bean's Engaging Ideas, I realized that hey, I don't have to give tests.  I could assign a project instead.  And who says a quiz is the best way to test reading comprehension? I could post a problem that requires using the textbook.  My inventiveness can lead to more student opportunities to think at higher levels.  That's a good way to improve my teaching.

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