Sunday, 10 February 2013

Individual learning:a way forward?

Sunday morning - the time when it's traditional to read the papers - and I'm playing. There's a vaguely work-related reason for this, but I'm absolutely not thinking about work, I'm playing. What I'm playing with is Bitstrips, an excellent, free, cartoonstrip-making site. I posted about the site a couple of years ago and fully intended signing up for Bitstrips for Schools but a boring thing called money got in the way and it never happened.
The vaguely work-related reason is that several of my classes are reaching the prototyping phase of their media projects and Bitstrips is a great way of storyboarding a movie. Students have signed up for a free account using their Gmail address. One or two have expressed the wish to make a cartoon strip for their media projects, many more are planning to include a cartoon strip in their team websites. I've used a  Bitstrips storyboard I made in my demonstration e-portfolio. To lighten up an interactive lesson outline I was making (the medium being the message an' all), I decided to make this strip which shows how not to pitch a media idea. And if you think this scenario a little far-fetched it's based on real-life experience - but that's another story.... 


So, there I am discovering the delights of adapting ready-made scenery for my own purposes, when into my mind steals a word: personalised.
I was reading Steve Wheeler's post yesterday. It's not, by any means, the first time that I've thought about the issue of personalisation. I'm sure Steve is right that, "standardised curricula and testing are not fit for purpose in the 21st Century". The problem for me (and many teachers) is that we work in institutions which find many obstacles to embracing the kind of education Steve is talking about. What struck me was that being busily engaged in a dynamic process of discovery and creation (playing), is exactly where the best individual learning happens. Furthermore I was following precisely the path of design thinking I've been using as an over-arching structure for my recent work in Creative Media. 
A year or so ago, I took back control of a self-directed collaborative project before it fell apart completely. But I'm working now within a clearly defined project structure; which, nevertheless, expects students to work creatively both individually and collaboratively. So I'm wondering now, just how familiar students need to be with this way of working, before being able to utilise it in the structuring some of their own learning? 
Judging by some of the comments I've had from colleagues teaching creative BTEC courses, self-reliance is something older students find difficult. I've certainly trained a few teachers who expect CPD with no participation.  So, surely, the earlier they start learning ways to become self-starting learners, the better? 
Photo Credit: tychay via Compfight cc