Why #crit101…

Originally published here.

I think that independent learning is to have the ability to use the resources you have at hand whether thats the internet or books, even your peers to help you learn. However I also think it’s about knowing when you struggling and not being afraid to ask for help even if it means you fail because by failing you will learn to succeed.

I chose to participate in #crit101 as I want to become a better independent learner and by taking this course I hope that it will help me this is because teens in today’s society are spoon fed the information they need to them which will NOT help them when it comes to A-Levels and University as they are ALOT more independent then GCSE is. As-well, I joined this course to provide me with the skills to find information out on my own and also to be able to know when I need help therefore to ask more questions that will get me the answers I need.

Lastly I think you can become more of an in(ter)dependant learner as it about using others to. We as children learn to play together so why can we learn to learn together? Using each other as a learning tool making each other smarter not just the teacher making us smarter?

“…we can all participate in, and help build new models of online learning.”

A key inspiration behind the format and structure of #crit101 is the cMOOC model of massive open online courses, such as DS106 and #ETMOOC.

Theo Keuchel recently participated in the second edition of MOOCMOOC, a course in which I participated last August. The course explores what MOOCs are and what they might mean for education. Like myself, Theo is asking questions about whether this model of online course can work for school-age students. Obviously I believe that it can or #crit101 would not exist. Reading Theo’s post is like looking at my own checklist, I asked many of the same questions when putting the course together. In my view it comes down to two specific considerations above all others:

  • Do you believe that courses of this type are a valid form of learning?
  • Do you trust young people to participate in such a course?

If you can answer yes to the above then everything else is a matter of planning, pedagogy and technical practicality. However, the questions above strike at the heart of what I feel MOOCs are all about: Freeing learning from the confines of the classroom; bringing it to where the learners are – the connected web. Such an approach is too scary for some, too fraught with dangers. But this is the future… learning should belong to the learners. If the school curriculum can’t offer all that they need or want to learn then they should be free to go elsewhere and get it.

#crit101 is in its infancy, but it is my hope that the course demonstrates what Theo states at the end of his post:

we can all participate in, and help build new models of online learning.”

“But isn’t all learning independent learning?”

Last night saw the first Twitter discussion take place as part of the #crit101 course. It began with an opportunity for participants to have any questions they had about the course answered, before turning their attention to the topic in hand: Independent Learning.

The participants on the course, for the most part, range from 14 to 18 years of age and for many this was their first ever Twitter discussion that had a specific educational angle. Given this fact, I felt that it was a tremendous success, with everyone demonstrating that they had engaged actively with the course material. Although the chat was limited to an hour, many important ideas were raised, and I hope that some of the resurface in blog posts shortly.

We tackled the question of what Independent Learning is. Opinion varied with some seeing it as a disposition whereas others sighted specific attributes. Here are a few highlights:

One idea that began to come up from several participants was the notion of maturity – being integral to being an independent learner. I asked if it was simply then an issue of time or could IL be taught/developed? This was a challenging question that garnered a variety of responses. One response that captured the duality that I often wrestle with when considering this myself came from Rosie:

This is the challenge, isn’t it? Autonomous learners is what many of us (as educators) want to see but do all learners want to be autonomous, do they know how and is it something that can be learned? Another participant asked, what I felt was a significant and thoughtful question:

Learning is happening all of the time, and it is not happening en-mass, although too often we try to teach that way. For the learner, their education is personal to them, therefore to answer Lily’s question: Yes, all learning is independent learning. However, if this is so, is maturity an issue or is it about reframing how we understand and interpret what independent learning is?

As the end neared, I wanted to challenge the group further by considering if independent learning is something that can be learned. What if I have got this all wrong? The participants responded with maturity and candor…

Finally, as it had come up and few times, I broached the idea of school eroding a learners ability to work independently…

Indeed, it might and that is one of the many reasons underpinning #crit101. I want to challenge the very idea of traditional classroom-based education. Here was a group of learners from different year groups, with different backgrounds, abilities and interests, engaged in a thought provoking discussion about the way they learn. What could be more ‘in(ter)dependent’ than that?

*You can read all of the tweets from the discussion here.

Reasoning for Participating in the Course (CRIT101)

Originally published here.

I define independent learning as an inner skill. It is not easy to learn, some are born to do it well and some take time to gain this skill. I view independent learning as a mature way of learning, being comfortable enough to research and evaluate said research on your own. It's the ability to take what you want to learn about into your own hands and of your own accord read and take in what you are researching. An example is when a student goes home to research on a topic, is he A; Going to surf the web and struggle to take it all in. Or B; Confidently and efficiently going to use a variety of medias to gain knowledge about their topic.

Currently. I am student A. I feel sometimes I struggle to research information and learn about it. However, sometimes for myself it can be about enthusiasm. I did lots of ice hockey research in year 11 and enjoyed learning more and more about a topic I loved. On the other hand, sometimes it can be the information available.. or lack of it. I sometimes struggle to find articles about what I want to learn, let alone validate it.

I hope to come out of this course with confidence. I would like to go away whenever life requires me to learn. Not worry about failing and knowing I will struggle. But have the confidence to know what I am looking for and how to pull the parts away from the information that I need.

#crit101 Twitter Discussion – Tonight 7-8PM (GMT)

Twitter BirdThe first #crit101 Twitter discussion takes place this evening between 7:00PM and 8:00PM.

As previously discussed, sharing and discussing ideas encountered in the course is an important aspect of learning to become an in(ter)dependent learner. I hope that you will all be able to join in.

In this first discussion there will be an opportunity to ask any questions that you may still have about the course. Then we will turn our attention to the idea of learning to become a more independent learner. What did you make of the learner survey and reading materials from week one? Do you agree with everything you have read? Are there ideas or concepts that you disagree with or are unsure about? Tonight’s discussion is a chance to explore,  test and debate.

Joining in with a discussion on Twitter for the first time, with multiple participants, can be a bit daunting.

First and foremost, remember to include the hashtag #crit101 in all of your tweets.

Secondly, prepare yourself. It is best participate using a computer or laptop rather than a mobile phone. You want to be able to see the stream of #crit101 tweets and be able to tweet/reply at the same time. There are a couple of ways to do this…

You could use the Twitter web interface. Search the hashtag and away you go. This has limitations, and works best if you have two windows open side by side. The first window includes the stream of #crit101 tweets. The second is your @ replies, so that you can see if anyone has tweeted you directly.

Alternatively, you could use TweetDeck. Available for both MAC OSX and Windows, TweetDeck is a Twitter client that  works perfectly for following and participating in a discussion on Twitter as it allows you to have multiple columns, including your tweets, @ replies, DMs and hashtags you are following.

See you in the Twitterverse, very soon. 🙂