The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a systemic change in the education paradigm. From public school education to higher education and corporate training, doing things online and electronically is now the norm. Whether or not this new normal continues post-pandemic remains to be seen. But the changes have led to a very valid question: why not give students ownership of their own education?
Every student at every level is expected to learn and master material. But who owns the educational process? Who gets to decide what is learned and how students will learn it? These are things we are having to rethink as a result of the majority of us now learning from home.
Both students and adults alike are finding the learning from home model challenging. Students are used to sitting in a classroom while being directed by a teacher. Their parents are used to sitting in conference rooms and watching slide decks go by while someone reads the text. Both groups are being directed in their learning by a facilitator.
Things are different at home. Students and adults are expected to assume more responsibility. They are expected to do coursework without a teacher or facilitator looking over their shoulders. They are expected to direct themselves through course proficiency and remediation.
This is not as easy as it sounds for people who have never done it before. And yet, we human beings are brilliantly resilient. We eventually figure out how to work with what has been given. Thus, some of those same students and adults who struggled with home learning during the first few weeks have risen above the challenges and are now flourishing.
More importantly, they are flourishing because their learning is self-directed. They have taken ownership of learning out of necessity. If they can maintain ownership even after the necessity no longer exists, they stand a better chance of continuing to learn more effectively and efficiently.
Self-Directed Adaptive Learning
Let’s say educational institutions and corporations alike look back on pandemic-era training and realize that the self-directed model actually works better than the classroom model. What then? Salt Lake City’s Fulcrum Labs says the next logical step is to embrace self-directed adaptive learning.
The adaptive learning concept is one that focuses on personalization, self-direction, and individualized learning pathways. It is the epitome of self-directed learning with technology as its core. And the better the technology, the better an adaptive learning platform is.
More Effective and Efficient Learning
Self-directed adaptive learning produces better results because it is a more effective and efficient way to learn. For example, consider the pace of learning in the classroom setting. Facilitators cannot move too quickly or they risk leaving some learners behind. What they don’t realize is that other learners disengage because the slow pace leaves them bored and unchallenged.
Adaptive learning addresses this problem by allowing each learner to learn at his or her own pace. Those that need more time to work through challenging material have the luxury of going more slowly. Those that do not need as much time are able to move more quickly through the material and onto proving proficiency.
This is a more efficient system in that it reduces the total amount of time each student needs to master the material presented. It is more effective because students are neither left behind by material that is too challenging nor encouraged to disengage out of boredom.
Give students ownership of their education and you encourage them to excel. That may be one of the biggest and most important lessons of the recent ‘learn from home’ experiment.