Thursday, June 11, 2009

Supporting diy learners

So you have a self-directed learner who doesn't want to sit in class for more than is necessary - how can you as a teacher, mentor or learning facilitator support their learning and their achievement of their learning outcomes. Maybe this is my topic (thanks Brownwyn - see comments to the post below). This might be loosely titled "how to not-teach but support and guide a diy learner". This could be broken down into the following parts

Finding out what is driving them to learn the subject. How do they emotionally feel about the subject ( are there any fears and hangups brought over from earlier attempts at learning this)? How do they want to learn? Do they want to take on the subject wholistically and fill in the bits as they go or do they want it in a linear fashion, delivered in small achievalbe chunks, or a mix? How do they want to use the knowledge or skills once they obtain them - can you help them to discover the applications, benefits and other rewards. Where could adding even further to this knowledge take them in the future (the dream)?

What are the holes in their existing knowledge and how you can support them in discovering what these holes are and working with them to help formulate a strategy for progress - developing a roadmap, preferably visual and maybe helping them to construct a connective map of how the knowledge they wish to acquire will fit will connect with what they already know and do in their life.

A knowledge resource map of where to how to start their own search on the web (suggest search terms). Sites to check out but don't worry to much with specific urls as they get old quick. Give them a review of a choice of free online texts or readings that they could use for reference. Whose video's should they watch. Is there anything or anyone in polular culture (videos, fiction or online games) that might inspire them in the topic. Are there animations, puzzles, games and other interactive memory aids that might help them embed some of the harder stuff. Let students add their own reviews of stuff they find so they can improve the experience for future students (maybe on a wiki)

Teaching skills - where possible use videos and animations that the student can watch and rewatch, slow down and rewind, see from multiple angles etc. Is there a retiree in the student's community that can mentor the student. If its difficult or dangerous then do some face-to-face delivery. Support the student in discovering or choosing their own preferred ways to learn.

A context to learn and try out skills. For high risk skills this may have to be in a supervised workshop but for many things the student may be able to find a context in their own life, work, club, study-group or community where they can try out their skills. Set realworld based problem solving activities so the student can see relevance in what they are learning. Report back can be by video, webcam and supported by reference, as a way of confirmation, by a third party.

Assessment - preferably without ever using the "A" word. Let them explain or demo to someone else, share what they have done through reflection etc. Written tests should be left for "must have" knowledge that is madated by curriculm or licensing requirements. Where possible use what they have done to recognise skills and knowledge used in real contexts.

Throughout - check with the student often to see how they are going and offer reinforcement, guidance, suggestions and encouragement. Connect with them by Skype, elluminate, email, sms, face-to-face - what ever they prefer.

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