Students, in my experience always want to help each other, so it is no surprise that instead of making it a problem that classes always want to casually discuss concepts and ideas presented to them, that instead it should be made into an opportunity for improving student learning. Currently, in my classroom students are always allowed to discuss and help each other on any task or assignment as long as it is not a “test”, and frankly if it was up to me, and me alone, I would create collaborative”tests”. However, there was a time when it made me uncomfortable when students wanted to help each other. I was concerned that if they didn’t figure it out themselves then maybe they hadn’t learned it. I realized that this anxiety wasn’t really about what I really believed, but more about what I thought other teachers and administrators might think. When I realized this, I thought more about the real value of students helping each other, and was prepared with the “why” of my actions. So when I think about Alan November’s ideas about students designing learning for other students, I like the idea, and have already thought of some things I can try. However, in the current school culture I work in I can foresee that their may well be parents questioning why the teacher is getting the students to do what they see as the “teacher’s” job. Even though I am fully prepared with the “why”, it may be a little far from what traditional teaching is supposed to look like in the eyes of some stakeholders.
Having gotten that out, I think what Eric Marcos has done is remarkable, and it connects right into Daniel Pink’s ideas of purpose, mastery and autonomy. What I wonder about is the fact that these students are not graded for their contribution. I understand that the fact that they are not extrinsically motivated is why they do the great work they do, and no grade is really going to have any real meaning or measure of what they have created. Furthermore, I buy into this kind of learning. I see value in it, but I can’t always quantify it. This is the difficulty. Their has to be some way of validating this contribution; this value that students are creating. How do we show the true learning experience of the student tutorial designer?
If the digital Learning Farm became the standard in a school, how would teachers assess if the very act of assessment would nullify student purpose? How do we measure this success and sell it to the data hounds who show achievement through common core standards and the collection of test score data? In our current educational culture
teachers are only held accountable for achievement that can be captured as data, while learning is ignored or not even considered. So I wonder will the student as a tutorial designer always have to be a sideshow? Or can the world truly embrace the paradigm shift?