#ce14 #clmooc #etmooc Student Agency


How do we help students develop the insight and initiative to be life-long, productive learners contributing to a better world? How do we develop student agency?

We know that motivation comes from a desire to learn, a purpose, an authentic interest, and a belief that success is possible. We know that learning is a social activity, that involvement with others enhances our reflection and goals. We’ve come to understand that reflection and feedback in authentic tasks in which we can improve and develop before publication or presentation builds motivation and agency.

So we also know that project-based learning can form a structure that develops the critical thinking and reflection habits that help learners make choices that guide improved learning.

But sometimes  these more open venues based on passion or student interest can flop. We need to understand that each student is at a different stage in their learning journey.  Here’s a review of this idea in an old video I made for #etmooc:

ETMOOC Slice from Sheri Edwards on Vimeo.

How do we provide the structure, the connection to the learning and the people, so students develop their voice to create their agency?

In this year’s #clmooc,  the organizers developed a support team to monitor and collaborate with members as an encouragement to participation. Because a sense of belonging and a connection with other members provides the support needed to make choices, and the freedom to choose what and when to participate allowed members to grow in their learning at their pace and for their purpose. People skipped some projects, and then became deeply involved in others. Learning is personal; learning is social. But the key to all of this really is based on what Daniel Pink suggests: People need autonomy, purpose, and mastery for motivation. If we review the literature on motivation and behavior, William Glasser’s work provides a background for autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Glasser suggests that we “behave” to meet the basic needs of freedom [autonomy], belonging [purpose], power [autonomy, mastery], and fun [purpose].

One of the best explanations of student agency connected to Glasser’s work is by Jackie Gerstein: Learner Agency, Technology, and Emotional Intelligence.

To build agency and voice in the connected learners of today, freedom to choose the learning is high on the list — autonomy and purpose.  But to make the choice, learners need to feel they belong and that they have the power to master the undertaking.  And our task is to be the support team, the guides to understand where and how the learners will take  that next step.

Both #clmooc and #etmooc provided the connections, collaboration, and support for their learners.  How do we translate that into a transformed classroom for today?

#NaNoWriMo #NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo_November_blogroll_largeYes. I’m applying my creative endeavors to the written word this month. I’m letting the thoughts in my mind have voice.  My students and I are reading Out of My Mind by Susan Draper. We are holding onto the idea that “Thoughts need words, and words need a voice.” [page 8] We’re holding to that because Melody for so long had no voice. The students are hoping for her.

And I’m realizing that my students don’t realize how far their voices could be heard. I’m working on that. We’re connecting through blogs with other students, and they so want to see their faces and Skype/Hangout with them. But it’s more than that. They don’t know they can change the world. I’m working on that too. Seventh grade is joining YouthVoices, and are writing their 10 Self / World questions after watching the video by Paul Allison of his class. That class had students pondering the trivial and the powerful, the inner and the outer worlds of our wonderments. It engaged my students’ considerations.

So I’m blogging every day this month for NaBloPoMo. Just thoughts, strategies, or musings about my world — a small voice in the big world.  Maybe it will become a habit.

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonAnd I’m writing my third NaNoWriMo novel —

Writing tip: Just set your fingers on the keys and write: I don’t know what to write. And today…