November 17, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
What follows in my next posts here and there are snippets of a recent Learner Autonomy workshop I put together to present at SGI. (+ other related stuff I thought of later)
Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it.
This is kind of what I felt about learner autonomy, except the learners were not always The One.
And except I didn’t always know where the door was.
To conceptualize autonomy is not an easy task. Different people associate it with different things. Responsibility, independence, self- evaluation, etc.
For me, at some point (maybe not now), I thought of individualization. On my part as a teacher, the individualization of instruction mainly.
“Individualisation… (in general) leaves very little freedom of choice to the individual learner. Rather it is the teacher who tries to adapt his methodology and materials to the learner… That is, the majority of the relevant decisions are made for the learner, not by him. It is in fact individualised teaching.”
Riley (1986: 32)
The made for the learner, not by him/her, is something that really hit home and made me reconsider the matter.
Another idea is self-direction – something I particularly like to think I practice all the time. And here’s another quote:
In its broadest meaning, ‘self-directed learning’ describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.
Knowles (1975: 18)
It strikes me that learner autonomy, ideally, should be fostered at all levels; and that includes course management and decisions that are rarely discussed with the learner such as, how and when to evaluate.
Have you ever asked learners:
When do you think you should take the tests? Erm… actually, are tests really the best way to evaluate your learning or would you prefer a learning portfolio?
If you have, I admire you.
to be continued
**update: here’s part II