Students: Creators, not just Consumers of Information

Source: KQED Mindshift, Oct 2013

“Our students have been often rendered as consumers of information, rather than collaborators and creators of information,” said Yong Zhao, director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education at University of Oregon. “We want students to create genuine, authentic products for each other.” In many ways Zhao’s vision of learning applies to educators as well as students. Through connection and collaboration teachers can start down a learning path that parallels the one they try to create for students.

“It’s not learning a set of stuff that’s the curriculum,” said Marc Prensky, speaker, writer and education consultant. “We are going very quickly away from that. It’s learning a set of skills. And therefore the teacher becomes not the person who gives you information or helps you learn, rather they are more like a sports coach that helps you become.”

One way Zhao envisions this type of collaborative learning is as a personalized learning ecosystem. Many college students already create a type of ecosystem by seeking out the most helpful professors, the best libraries, peer tutors and even social spaces. If K-12 education was envisioned in much the same way it could be more learner-directed with teachers acting as coaches and resources along the learning path. And for Zhao, it’s important to think of that ecosystem in a global context. Teachers and students from around the world can learn from one another, share lessons, best practices and even policy solutions.

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