Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time, Innovation, and Open Ended Learning

I just got off the phone with a colleague. He is participating in an e-Journalism project and just finished a PD day for it. He loved the way that he was given time to play. He said that we would all be using the new web 2.0 tools if we just were given the time to learn them. He had a good point. Why are we only expected to innovate on our own time. When are we given paid time to learn and develop new things? (Conference doesn't quite cut it.) A conference is a great place to dip our toes into the water but then we need to time to go back to school and try it.

My colleague also raised another good point. He learned a huge amount at his PD day. And the learning was structured absolutely nothing like his classroom (or most of our classrooms for that matter). Play time to pursue learning. Learning in the direction you choose. Self directed learning (to use the jargon). I think he is at home right now thinking about how to restructure his classes.
I had a similar discussion with a couple of colleague's after a recent PD. A session were we were being instructed in how to "control the flow of information. " A direct quote. Not kidding. Our classrooms are killing creativity. We are not building lifelong learners. The structure is the problem. The control is the problem. Lets get the heck out of the way of student learning.
Damn, I hope that they don't make me try and innovate too. I just don't have the time.
Photo by Thomas Hawk Used under a Creative Commons License.


MLHoffman said...

What does a classroom that allows students to take charge of their own learning look like?

Mr. Ball said...

Well, not really like mine I am ashamed to admit. I don't really know the answer to that question. I would have to say it is where students take initiative and delve further into a subject for personal interest (not because we will give more marks for it). It would probably look like our tech play sessions with Donna.

In other words it would probably look like chaos.

And uninterested students would just slip through the cracks.

Ewan McIntosh said...

It doesn't look like chaos. It's a thriving environment to be part of. If you want to see it in action and hear from students and teachers where this kind of learning takes place, start by checking out:


and most importantly, how we assess we're making progress:

Kim said...

I completely agree that teachers need time to play and explore and convention is just an avenue to show teachers what they can learn about. And I don't think that uninterested students would slip through the cracks because how would there be uninterested students if their learning was self-directed towards areas of interest (or is this some type of utopia?).