LCL2: Interest-based Learning


Writing deadlines mean I am a week (or so) behind in the LCL course, but I do still hope to keep up. Session 2 was about Interest-based learning and was based on the following readings:

We were asked to structure our reflections based on the following two questions:

  • What did you find most interesting or surprising in the readings? I liked all the readings for this week, and was particularly enthused by the very readable Papert piece (I’ll save my comments on that for a separate piece on ‘the gears of my childhood‘. My research interests are informal learning, so although I didn’t know the work I know the ideas, so it is interesting to reflect on the generalisability of the underlying concepts. For example, I’m struck by how the readings this week either explicitly or implicitly emphasise ‘affect’ as a key factor. In Joi Ito’s formal vs informal blog post, he asks: ‘is there a way to support and acknowledge the importance of informal learning …?’ I think the answer is yes (I’m thinking about Higher education contexts here). One way to motivate learners is to make learning meaningful for them – so rather than imposing a curriculum, try and negotiate it (as far as your quality procedures allow) and certainly personalise it – allow each individual student to own their own learning. That’s easy to say, but what does it mean in practice? Well, you could start by helping the students think about why they are doing the course, what they want out of it, how it will contribute towards their overall goal. Then, don’t just produce content for your students to consume – get them to contribute ideas, create new knowledge, make connections. Design assessments that allow them to demonstrate what they have learned (how they have changed during the course) and what it means to them in terms of their own learning and goals. This might be more work in terms of assessment, but you will have motivated your students and given them a learning experience that is valuable beyond exam time. I also liked the ideas in the Dubai post: unpredictability drives learning – it makes it easier to identify and articulate gaps in your knowledge and therefore to start planning to address them.
  • What did you disagree with or have questions about? In Papert’s ‘Gears of My Childhood’ piece, I loved the overall idea, but I was a bit concerned that he had overstepped the mark when talking about body knowledge, and the sensorimotor schemata of the child. I think I’d have to read the rest of the book to find out, but although it worked for his ‘gears’ it wouldn’t work for the thing that spurred my interest-based learning … maps.

Author: Colin Milligan

Learning researcher based at Glasgow Caledonian University, and living in beautiful West Stirlingshire.

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