“Who Owns the Learning?”

image from novemberlearning.com

I recently read Alan November’s book, Who Owns the Learning and, of course, was inspired again, by what I read. I have heard Alan November speak live and as I read, heard his easy-mannered voice come through each word on the page. Many highlights later, I thought I would share some with you.

1. The most successful way to teach students innovation and creativity is to embrace those elements in our own methods.

It goes without saying that if you want your students (or teachers) to do something, you should do it as well. You may start out faking your way through it and that’s fine, but shift begins with you. Model what you preach.

2. Beyond earning a grade, many of our students see no higher purpose in their work efforts.

If students work has no purpose, if it is not being shared, then it is being wasted (IMHO). Let the students work have purpose, let it mean something. Let it leave the classroom.

3. Simply adding technology-the thousand-dollar pencil- to the current highly prescribed school culture won’t help very much.

The culture and the mindset has to change as do the methods.

4. Successful implementation of technology into K-12 education is much more complex than providing students with access to computers and moving content to online courses. Instead, we have to teach students to use information and communication technologues to innovate, solve problems, create, and be globally connected.

Students need to learn how to learn, how to connect with others, how to be globally literate and digitally literate. Implementing technology needs to go beyond substitution. It needs to lead to change in how we view the world and our place in it. Students need to see themselves as active contributors to their learning and to the world.

5. Essential questions for educators: Who owns the learning? How much autonomy can we afford to give our students? How much purpose can we design into school work? And how can we design learning environments that lead to mastery?

6. Publish student work to a global audience– We should expect all students to create knowledge.

Who benefits from a student’s work when it goes from the binder to the teacher to the student to the trashcan? Let students work become valuable; share their learning with others beyond the classroom.

7. In adopting a new educational model, superintendents and principals must lead the way.

Many people resist change because it is scary and uncomfortable, especially if you have been doing something one way for a long time.  If principals and administrators are learning along side the teachers, and modeling what they are expecting from the teachers, it becomes a shared experience, a culture of learning and evolving and growth.

8. Superintendents and principals must lead the cultural evolution of education by establishing an expectation that supports self-directed professional growth and more collaboration among teachers, not just within their school community, but globally as well.

Schools are not just places of learning for students, there must be the expectation that teachers (and leaders) will continue to learn and grow and evolve. With Twitter and educational conversations and conferences happening on a daily basis, teachers need to be encouraged and expected to engage in self-selected and self-directed learning opportunities. Professional learning does not need to happen only on in-service days. At the same time, in-service days should be developed with input from the teachers and staff on what they want to learn.

9. While teachers remain responsible for ensuring that the curriculum is covered, student contributions to the learning experiences deepen their understanding of curriculum content.

There is no longer the need for students to wait for the teacher to deposit information; students need to actively engage in their own learning and understanding.

10. What do schools accomplish by blocking students from learning how to use social media as tools for learning?

Students need to be able to learn after they leave your classroom and school. Teaching them how to use social media to network and develop their own PLN allows them to learn from people who share the same interests or who have a different knowledge base as well as a different zip code or time zone. Not to mention the ability to learn and practice good digital citizenship.

These are only the first 10; there will be more to come. If you have read the book, I’m wondering what stood out to you. What did you highlight or find interesting, intriguing or motivating?