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Power to the students

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Started by Nathaniel Louwrens 10 Mar 2016 8:52am () Replies (3)

Many times, the work we do as educators is actually taking away some of the most powerful learning from our students.

The statement above is by George Couros, at the end of his blog post, Adding or Subtracting Learning?

In it, he tells a typical story of a teachers spending hours looking for the right resources (in this case a video) to help teach a class a specific concept. But then he challenges this.

Why not give this to the students? Why not give them the challenge of finding a good resource that explains the concept and comment on why they believe it's a good resource for others to learn from. (Read the post for the specific example)

His reasoning (paraphrased): Students will

  1. learn about the concept
  2. use criteria to discuss why the resource was powerful
  3. learn curation skills.

By doing all the research as teachers, we might come away with a good understanding of a concept, but have we taken away an opportunity from our students?

This opportunity may also give students the power to interact with a range of resources that support them best, in the ways they prefer to learn.

With the digital technologies we have available to us now, we can give power to the students.


  • What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of teaching and learning occurring in this way?
  • Are there things that you do, have done, or have seen others do that may be "taking away some of the most powerful learning from our students"? What could be done differently?
  • What Key Competencies and e-Competencies can be developed through a process such as this?



  • Kane Fraser (View all users posts) 01 Jul 2016 11:58am ()

    Great idea.  Advantages can be that the learning is more "concreted"-students may getting a deeper understanding from finding the information by themselves, and of course ownership over their learning, self-directed, collaborative working together.  Disadvantages could be the students who find it hard to remain on task could be easily distracted by other videos or websites that don't have the relevant info.    I also remember doing a course a few years ago and there was mention of children searching as the teacher talked and their learning became deeper as they would click away at various links and find more information than a teacher would normally direct at them.

    Obviously there would still need to be a certain amount of scaffolding needed to ensure the learning taking place is worthwhile.

    This requires a whole shift in thinking and practice and confidence that the end product would be beneficial to student achievement.

    Basically it ticks all the key competencies!  Something to look into for term 3!

  • Carly Kidd (View all users posts) 01 Jul 2016 7:25pm ()

    I agree with Couros - there have been many occasions where I have set an activity or video to view and then had students ask if they could do ....., choose.... instead. Often their ideas and their choice of content/activity are much more meaningful, engaging and motivating to them. Why on Earth would we take that away from them?  I believe that the biggest mindset shift for teachers today is moving away from the traditional thinking that 'teachers have the knowledge and need to control the learning environment', when teachers can get passed this they will see the real joy in their role in the learning environment is being able to learn with and from students and being the mentor/guide/advisor/nurturer - it so enjoyable to be part of their journey and sharing in the excitement and wonders that they come up with!  

    I now often go through the Learning intention, offer up my content and challenge them to find something better- share it and tell me why they find it better... boys love a challenge and are engaged in finding the 'ultimate' video/activity...in their own time!!! With great achievement results too, so my goal is to utilise this across the curriculum!

    We can't hold our students back because we feel we lack the knowledge/skill/confidence to teach them the amazing stuff that they need now - to me that is a crime!  We do have the life and teaching experience as well as the understanding of how our increasingly diverse students learn and that is where we can inspire our students to really push boundaries and love their learning.  

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