Giving Students’ learning Choices Through Technology

I like to rent Redbox movies, those red kiosco in grocery stores and McDonalds. I can preview the available titles from the comfort of my home; I can take my time to decide which movie I want. I can even rent the movie online so that it is ready for me when I get to the store. I can return it to any Redbox.

I wonder what school would be like if we could have more options and choices available to students. Sure all students have to learn the same basic standards. How much choice do we give the students in how they go about doing it? Do we provide lectures, demonstrations, guided instructions, interactive activities, group activities, and self-tests in various digital formats for them? By using technology we can have many different forms of learning the standard available to the students. What, if instead of lock stepping the class in terms of the students’ learning, we freed up the class to make their own choices? They can select in what order or format to see/hear/experience the learning.

We can start small with podcasts, emovies, and interactive Power Points as we build up our library. Imagine if a department (all English teachers in 9th grade) worked together to create these resources. Then we as teachers could really be guides on the side instead of the sage on the stage. We can spend time in providing formative feedback to students in one-on-one and small groups instead of being infront of the room “teaching”. When students experience a learning gap, we can refer them to a specific technology application that focuses on that learning gap. We can give more help to those who need one-on-one feedback.

Let’s use technology to help us better guide students in their learning.

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3 Responses to “Giving Students’ learning Choices Through Technology”


  1. 1 Carl Anderson March 27, 2008 at 5:37 am

    Sounds like a blend of alternative ed and online school. Harry, you ask some wonderful questions on your blog and I am often compelled to participate in the conversations you start. I wish more would jump in and continue these discussions. This particular issue is one that I have struggled with. I totally agree that giving students choice is a good thing but lately I have been considering the possibility that these choices already exist for our students. In Minnesota our students have the option of going to traditional public school, alternative learning centers (if they fit the criteria of “at risk”), any number of charter schools with varying approaches to learning, full-time online schools, supplemental online schools, post secondary enrollment, or they can just take their GED and still go to college if they want. I think almost everyone recognizes that no one model of instruction fits all learners. Lately I have come to the thought that maybe there is still a need for some schools to do things the way they have been done and that that model still serves some of our kids. The question is, do we change the mainstream schools to fit a different learning model or do we let one or more of the alternative options grow to be competitive or equally prominent in our national education system?

  2. 2 nicheguru March 27, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Excellent. Empowering students must be any educator’s dream but sadly educators and technology do not go hand in hand. What we need is the concept of customized learning, then perhaps we will truly realize the potential of inner self.

  3. 3 hgtuttle March 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Carl,
    I’ve been in too many classrooms where the teacher determines everything that is done in the classroom. Students never get to think for themselves. As I get ready for next semester, I am carefully looking how I can change the dynamics of the classroom so that the students have more choices in how they learn the material and what they do with it. In fact, I’m working on a think-aloud to model on how to write a contrast paper that I hope to finish and put up on YouTube. Students can access that and rewatch it as much as they need to to understand the concept. I could even have a handout to help guide them through it. I’m try to break down their learning into pieces that they can access digitally.
    Harry


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