Enforcing Independence

ind learnerYears ago when I was first a postgraduate I worked for a widening access and widening participation project called On Track. We’d go into FE colleges in teams of two (usually a PG and a UG) and run sessions for students aimed at “facilitating the transition between FE and HE”, and we often talked about giving a “warts and all” guide to HE. A lot of what we did was study skills, but the students loved it because they got to talk to real students about what it was like to be at university. One of the first acetates (remember them?) in the tutor pack was one entitled “The Independent Learner”. Sadly the project is defunct and my acetates have been binned, and the image is very out of date anyway. It had the text “the independent learner” in the central oval, the middle oval contained all the words to do with studying and assessment and the outside oval contained the skills On Track could teach.

rhizo14 imageDave’s topic this week in #rhizo14 is called Enforcing Independence and that reminded me of On Track and all the talk about the independent learner there.   I’ve recreated a version of the acetate to express how most of us are feeling about this course.  Where do I look for inspiration?  How do I process it?  Luckily we’re not alone, we have the network of others in the course and a variety of places (Facebook, Twitter etc.) to chat to each other.  It strikes me how different this is from the independent learners we envisaged back in the days of On Track, though – it’s a whole different world nowadays.

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About Nomad War Machine

Philosopher, Doctor Who lover, knitter, anarchist. Gets paid for being a Learning Technologist at the University of Glasgow. I am interested in theories and models of co-operative learning, in particular the Jigsaw Classroom, and I have just started a PhD about that sort of stuff. Twitter: @NomadWarMachine
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2 Responses to Enforcing Independence

  1. A.G. Pate says:

    I often wonder if the phrase “independent learner” is also a bit “dated”. I don’t often learn independently. I ask others, I depend on my internet connection (a lot!) and I work with others to understand something better. I ask for advice about whether I’m on the right track and others give me ideas which spark me off in new and sometimes unexpected directions.

    With my students, I expect them to collaborate, to discuss, to challenge, to search, to explore and to question. Yes, sometimes this is done independently but, more often than not, I’m encouraging them to NOT work on their own but to learn together.

    I wonder if, perhaps, the phrase “effective learner” might be more appropriate in today’s learning societies. Just a thought. 🙂

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