Facilitating learning

October 8, 2010

I do not teach.  I “facilitate learning.”  This is hard for many of my students to understand.  Many want me up in front, behind a podium reading my notes, or flicking through PowerPoint slides.  Why?  Because it’s easy.  It’s easy for the student to sit back and not participate, not engage.  However, I refuse to give them what they want.  (This refusal is sometimes commented upon in my semester student reviews…one student explained, “She doesn’t teach, has the students do all of the teaching.”  Exactly.)  David Warlick has a great blog post discussing the role of the student as learner. http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/?p=2762 

Therefore, I present this information about myself at the beginning of the semester, so that the student can be aware of my expectations:

My purpose is to provide students with practical knowledge of problem-solving skills while facilitating self-actualization to bring about fundamental, social and cultural change in society through education. My students must be self-directed and highly motivated, assuming responsibility for their own learning. My students are voluntary participants.

My role is that of a facilitator–to support the learning process. I believe in experience learning, open discussions, self-assessment, cooperative learning, critical discussion, freedom and empowerment.

Therefore, this class will change with each of you–so be flexible.

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6 Responses to “Facilitating learning”

  1. Billie Cowley Says:

    Shelly,

    I think we have spoon-fed our students for too long that they do not know how to find resources on their own. I think it’s wonderful that you are holding students accountable and forcing them to find information on their own. From experience, I think we can both say that people learn more when they seek information on their own. I try to facilitate learning in my own classroom as well. Do I get resistance from some; yes, but in the end, I think they enjoy it and learn more than the traditional “get and sit” model.

    Billie

  2. Leigh Zeitz Says:

    I agree with the idea of facilitating learning. Providing problem based situations where students are in an environment that elicits problem solving and critical thinking. Yes, Billie, we have been spoon feeding our students for too long. They have the tools today to learn more independently but we must provide them with the challenge before that can happen.

    Z


    • Dr. Z (and others),
      This is certainly very relevant to the VoiceThread video. Students will need these skills to be successful in a “flat” world.
      I am convinced; how do I convince them?
      Shelly

  3. Jarod Mozer Says:

    Shelly,

    I like your idea of facilitating learning. However, I feel that there are specific times when teacher-directed instruction is beneficial such as introducing a new topic. You can have students research this for their own but the problem is not all students will construct appropriate meaning. Everyone nowadays automatically thinks of teacher-directed instruction as lectures. This is incorrect. Effective teacher-directed instruction gets the students actively involved in the discussion taking place and has them apply the learning as well.

    Jarod


  4. Jarod,
    I get a sense that all instruction (in its foundation) is instructor-directed. However, I want to initially direct and then let the learners create, envision, collaborate.
    I also like your idea about getting students acitively involved.
    Thank you for the comment.
    Shelly

  5. Mikael Says:

    I think there are times when students need to go it alone an other times where a teacher needs to be present in the front of the room. A teacher who allows students to facilitate there own learning might see that there is no need to come to school if they can learn on their own outside the classroom.


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