User-Generated Education: Student-Centric Education? Flipped Classroom? Google 20% Day?
I am in the process of designing and teaching a graduate course on Social Networked Learning. For the third module, the educators in the course are to go out and seek their own professional development opportunities based on their own grade level and content area interests.
This prompted me to revisit my ideas surrounding user-generated education – the inspiration for and title of this blog. A few years ago, I facilitated a conversation about user-generated education for EduCon. It was fueled by the idea that this era of learning in the 21st century should be student-centric and user-generated. An extensive list of videos, articles, and text resources on this topic can be found at http://jackiegerstein.wikispaces.com/User-Generated+Education.
This Educon conversation originated from my confusion as to why public school education is still be driven by educational essentialism when knowledge is in abundance via the Internet and when educators are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge. Mimi Ito and others have described, in their research, how young people are getting online to connect and find others with similar interests, how they seem to be learning more in their informal learning environments than in their more formal school environments.
The urgent need to reimagine education grows clearer by the day. Research has shown that too many students are disengaged and alienated from school, and see little or no purpose to their education. Business leaders say there is a widening gap between the skills of the workforce and the needs of businesses seeking competitive advantage. Additionally, technology and the networked era threatens to stretch the already-wide equity gap in education unless there is decisive intervention and a strong public agenda (http://connectedlearning.tv/connected-learning-principles).
The major purpose of school, most would agree, is to learn. As such and given the rich array of resources available via networked learning, the time is ripe for a student-centric, progressive education. Some educators have proposed addressing this gap with Google 20% Projects and FedEx Days at school. But school is not/should not be work (aka employment). The Google Rule should be turned on its head with 80% of the time students pursuing their own interests and passions with educators acting in the role of mentors, facilitators and coaches. 20% of the other time could be spent engaging in a liberal arts education.
Given this 80% time to pursue their passions, learners could have the opportunity to become experts in their areas of interests/fields; finding resources, web links, and videos; remixing and mashing them up to gain a personal and deep meaning; and then sharing their resources, findings, and projects with their classmates. So many “needs” would be met . . .
- Students would learn the process of how to learn, how to find reputable resources, how to report their findings.
- Students would find their tribes.
- Students in their face-to-face learning environments would learn about the diversity of other student interests, possibly finding new passions and interests in the process.