That is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. After all, I know it is a learning environment. I mean, we “do” school there. I provide instruction, students complete activities, and I assess them. But is it an environment where “significant” learning takes place?
According to Merriam-Webster, for learning to be significant, it needs to have meaning. I can assure you that some of the material we study in class doesn’t hold much meaning to our students. If it doesn’t have meaning, then it can’t possibly have much influence or effect. Dr. Tony Bates (2015) reminds us that true learning isn’t just like shoveling content into the students’ brains. Instead, we want our students to gain a deeper understanding by learning how to learn. This can be applied in any content area so that it becomes lifelong practice.
I know that to create a significant learning environment for my students, I need to first focus on the needs of the learner.
I remember when I first learned about Facebook. I thought, “Why would I want to announce whatever I’m doing right now to the world?” I had never done that before, so I didn’t know why I would want to do that, or even if anybody would care. I know we need to start somewhere, but my first posts in 2009 literally announced that I was grading papers or waiting on my children to be picked up. Only two years later, I sent my first Tweet. Again, I thought, “What’s the purpose?” It really seemed that the only people tweeting were celebrities and people who WISHED they were celebrities! I had no idea that a decade later, social media would be such a significant (i.e., meaningful, influential) part of my life.
Technology along with social media has been a part of our students’ lives since they can remember. They learn by sharing their experiences with each other. They communicate and refine their ideas. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011, pg. 67) report that through technology and digital media our students’ learning can be intensified because it can be related back to their personal lives.
This blog is a platform for me to reflect and share my learning with others, to create a collaborative effort, and learn with others. I am using this digital portfolio to express my experiences with my own voice through authentic learning. It also allows me to take ownership of my learning. I want my students to have the experience of creating a digital portfolio of their learning as well. Creating a significant learning environment means allowing students to have the opportunity for deeper learning by taking ownership of their learning, having a platform for peer-to-peer interaction, and providing authentic learning. My significant learning environment will include digital portfolios.
Bates, T. (2015). Building effective learning environments [Video]. https://www.youtu.be/3xD_sLNGurA
Brown, J. S., & Thomas, D. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.