Saturday, March 17, 2012
Learner-centred, learner-centeredness, learning centred
Lots of Reflection
Reflection for this section was about thinking about what our beliefs about the terms Learner-centred, learner-centeredness, learning centred were in relation to teaching and learning, and being a learner ourselves. We were asked to reflect on these terms before reading relevant research.
Splitting hairs – on the surface yes but a great question to look at what lies beneath those terms to work out what the differences are. On a deeper level, there are quite significant differences between the terms. I do believe the terms are linked but have different foci. In my journey of learning, I struggle with stepping out to define things before I have read different perspectives on them. I love to then test what I have read against my personal pedagogy.
However, I digress. The intention of the reflection is to ask myself how the terms align with my beliefs about the roles and competencies of teacher and learners and my approach to learning.
A teacher needs to know their students. Not only a personal level – which assist with designing courses which pique the student interests but also the skills and background they bring with them. Any teacher can design a class, courses, teaching materials and learning experiences. Making them relevant, engaging, purposeful and educational requires us to know our students – we structure learning experiences to be learner-centred. This also enables us to be flexible in altering learning experiences to suit the learning needs of our students as they progress. Whilst we may feel the learning experiences we design are fantastic, we need to test them against what we know of learners. Having a learner centred approach allows us to bring our background knowledge, experiences and our learning centred pedagogy to the table when aiming for best practice in our teaching. These three terms bring different aspects of education together – they form our pedagogy. Education is not about a mark. It is about developing a whole person.
As a learner I appreciate knowing the end goal – I may not understand different aspects along the way but by having clearly defined outcomes, I begin to see the pieces of the puzzle are structured in such a way that they give me the skills I need to achieve those outcomes – perhaps that is learning centred. Carefully structured progression with an element of choice, give me security that different tasks that need to be completed are part of a plan but one which I need to explore further. I experience frustration when I’m not sure what is required and when work loads are high. I appreciate feedback and being able to seek clarification when my learning hits a road block but feel success when I figure a way around that block. I’m acutely aware that the aspects about learning that I value also equate strongly to those that my students value. As an adult, with out the added benefits of face to face interaction, online learning is certainly not as personal and interactive as that of teaching face to face but the advantages of being able to tailor learning to fit life demands outweighs the negatives.