Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Education Jigsaw

This is a working draft of part of my #DPLA Belief Statement - any and all feedback is welcome.

I am a firm believer that every individual is a learner – adult, child, parent, teacher, office worker, lawyer – learning is not limited to one discourse or one context. Learning is a process which allows us to make meaning of the world around us, to master skills relevant to our context, to question ideas, to imagine new answers, to gain knowledge.
Knowledge: "Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study " (from: WP1 Presentation_Tallin)
I envision the process of learning as a gigantic jigsaw puzzle – when the pieces are in the right places you reveal a picture barely imaginable when you first opened the box of disjointed pieces. When preparing to facilitate my own, students or staff learning I divide the pieces of the puzzle into these loose groupings: Learning Opportunities, Teaching Opportunities and ICTs for Learning.

Learning Opportunities

Every experience learners engage with offers an opportunity to apply a skill or understanding previously learned, or to explore something new and different. I believe that learning opportunities offered in the formal education setting must be carefully considered to ensure that they allow learners to build on the foundations, be themselves, work in the now and connect and collaborate with others.

Build on the foundations

It is essential that learners have the opportunity to use their knowledge foundations (prior knowledge and understandings) when they approach new learning experiences. Without this opportunity they will be more likely to struggle when making meaning of new information and therefore less likely to succeed at processing and mastering new knowledge.

The constructivist understanding of how people build, maintain and expand their understanding of the world around them through every experience mirrors my approach to learning. Every learner’s framework for making meaning and gaining knowledge is shaped by individual experiences depending on their social, familial, economic, and educational experiences. Therefore every experience helps learners to construct another piece of their knowledge framework and the learning opportunities offered must be carefully thought out and considered, especially when working with groups of 25-30 learners, each with different frameworks for making meaning.

In considering and planning learning opportunities for learners I draw on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to scaffold learners through the new learning experience from the foundation of Remembering through to the deeper understandings of Evaluating and Creating.

Using constructivism and Bloom’s taxonomy to frame my understanding of how learners build their own knowledge forces me to see that “hands-on”, “real world” experiences are those which allow learners to expand their understanding and knowledge base. This recognises the responsibility for gaining and maintaining knowledge largely of individuals, especially as the framework for understanding is limited to the experiences of each individual, as well as ensuring I am aware of my role as a supporter and facilitating in helping learners construct their own meaning.

I want to add something in here about PBL and the power of "hands on" learning experiences, but I'm not sure if I'm even on the right track yet... I'll add the next bits (work in the now and be themselves) later tonight or tomorrow. Please feel free to help a girl out and share your thoughts and ideas on ways to improve what I've got so far.


Linda Pilkington said...

I am currently reading Ken Robinson's "Element" and am quite interested in a section about "Domains and Fields" within tribes. "Domain" refers to the sorts of activities people are engaged in and "Field" refers to the other people who are engaged. In a constructivist classroom such as you have described here, there are many opportunities for learners to find their ideal "field" within a tribe where creativity and innovation can flourish so that their full potential can be explored.

I am loving this book - lots of inspiration and guidance.

Nic Mobbs said...

"Element" is on my reading list, I've just started "Wikinomics" and I have to admit there are aspects that are speaking to me from an education point of view.

In my notes for my belief statement I've got "Tribes" earmarked as something I want to talk about in the "Connecting and Collaborating" section (along with connectivism). By the sounds of things I need to be getting to "Element" sooner rather than later so I can include it too!