Ask any educator and they will tell you, learning is not a one-size fits all experience. Some people learn best when they are alone and hunkered down in a library with a stack of books. Other people learn best when working as part of a team. Some people learn by repeating skills over and over again and others only need to encounter a new skill or concept once or twice before they are up and running. In traditional classrooms and workshop settings, developing learning experiences for everyone can be a major challenge. While one can try to incorporate different approaches (e.g., combining a lecture and textbook approach with audio-visual aids), if there are 30 different people in the room, some types of learners are going to be privileged over others. With eLearning, student-driven learning is finally possible on a larger scale, and it seems likely that in 2017, student-driven learning will continue to dominate both education and training trends.
What is Student-driven Learning?
Student-centered learning is not new to most educators. Anyone who has read Paolo Freire knows that the “banking model” of education is a one-way street that rarely works. In this model, educators or trainers put information in to students who are treated like empty vessels (e.g., rote learning). By contrast, student-centered learning is the opposite. It seeks to engage students on myriad levels. Some key components of student-driven learning are outlined below.
Teachers and trainers become facilitators: In student-centered learning models, teachers and trainers facilitate a learning process rather than dictate it. The teacher or trainer becomes a resource rather than central or sole source of knowledge.
Students are given more opportunities to apply knowledge: In student-centered learning, students are given ample opportunity to apply their knowledge. In short, the focus in student-centered learning is on putting knowledge into practice sooner and more frequently.
Feedback is provided on an ongoing basis using multiple tools: With student-centered learning, feedback is ongoing (indeed, metrics are amplified) but grades are not the only way feedback is giving. In student-centered learning, peer-feedback is just as important as teacher/trainer feedback and quantitative and qualitative measures are both valued.
Learning is extended to new spaces: Student-centered learning isn’t classroom or workshop bound. From maker spaces to online learning, student-centered learning is about expanding where learning takes place while also rethinking how it takes place.
Learning is individual/localized: Student-centered learning recognizes that learning is never a one-size-fits-all experience. Student-centered learning is context-specific (it takes local and even individual needs into account).
Why Student-Driven Learning Will Continue to Gain Ground in 2017
There are many reasons why student-driven learning will continue to gain ground over the coming year.
First and foremost, new eLearning and mLearning technologies will continue to make student-driven learning easier and more affordable to offer whether you’re a classroom teacher or trainer working for a large organization. For example, with eLearning and mLearning, students can opt to complete required courses whenever and wherever they do their best work.
Second, with a learning management system, such as eLeap, it is possible to roll out training modules to an entire organization or just to those employees who require a specific training module. With advanced tracking capabilities, it is possible to target learners based on individual needs. Likewise, learners can opt to complete the courses they need to succeed on the job.
Third, in today’s world of work, cross training (the ability to do many different jobs in one organization) continues to become the norm. To survive and thrive in nearly any workplace, it is important to do more than one thing. Being able to wear many hats on the job and to adapt to new demands as they arise is critical. This means that we now live in a world where keeping up means constantly renewing one’s knowledge base. Of course, this means that student-driven learning is part of the new world of work. Moving forward, the onus will increasingly be on students to select which skills they want and need to learn. Organizations that make training modules available to employees so they can acquire new skills as desired and/or needed will be a step ahead of the game.