Note: This post builds on Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall study.
How can I get my students to learn on their own, without imposing knowledge on them?
Well, how are you assessing them? Do you give them an exam in which they have to use correct key words to describe a concept? If so, you have already failed.
Education has changed since Pink Floyd weighed in on the issue. But not enough. We are still manufacturing graduates with tools that seem increasingly outdated. Other tools exist and are slowly making inroads in the educational community. Let’s build a framework to classify these theories:
The world of education is coming up with new movements, frameworks and theories to explain how learning occurs or how it should be conducted. Each has passionate supporters and detractors who debate on the effectiveness and inherent appropriateness of one over the other.
Broadly, however, almost all teaching-learning interactions can be classified as one of the following:
- Those where the teacher or external resource determines the learning content and methodology.
- Those where the teacher or external resource determines the learning, in consultation with the learners.
- Those where the learners determine their own learning outcomes and how they will go about it.
The last of these encompasses theories such as Piagetian, situated cognition and constructivism.
Since I am at Ecole 42, I like to weigh in on what can be done within constructivism. Today we will focus on assessment. Specifically, within the Minimally Invasive Learning framework, how to assess outcomes when students learn on their own (and the teacher does not say anything to interrupt).
Evaluation of outcomes
Outcomes should be measured only in terms of the capability of a learner to perform certain tasks. In MIE the understanding of each learner maybe somewhat different depending on their learning styles and capacity. Therefore, measurement of understanding will not be a correct measure of their capability to use computers.
Were you asking for keywords? Then your students cannot learn on their own.
You need to assess in a way that isn’t influenced by students understanding things differently. Don’t ask how the bike works. Ask them to demonstrate. If you’re creative, ask them to get you a bottle of milk at the shop. That shows they can apply what they’ve learnt.
We need to think away assessment as a knowledge checkup. You accidentally end up telling your students how to learn. And thus you imprison their minds.
Let them free. They will get it. And if you really, really, need the keywords, you can always add them later.