Monday, February 10, 2014

Personal Learning Plans

I teach using a flipped classroom model that is well suited to students who use computers and mobile phones much of the time.  At any given time, students are working on several different projects – based on their individual capabilities and motivation.  Although the projects are associated with one course, I always wanted to try and teach several courses at the same time.  This “virtualization” of multiple courses would avoid potential space and staffing issues.  I could offer programming, robotics, web design and other courses simultaneously.  This would be ideal for technology classes, which generally only attract a handful of students.   After recent discussions with students, I think that technology is such a broad area that students should be encouraged to pursue it in accorance with a personal interest using a personalized learning plan. 

Personalized learning plans (PLPs) provide individualization that provides relevancy through choice and motivation through curiosity.  Students are active participants in their learning and build autonomy.  Unlike traditional learning environments, teachers do not provide the bulk of the instruction.  Rather, their role is to support the student through mentoring, supervision, brainstorming, and providing resources.  Students may find it beneficial to work together on the same plan project.  The learning environment is a shared space (similar to a lab) and students need to be respectful.  This is a very different learning environment from one that students are accustomed, and they need what is expected.

Personalized Learning Plan outline
  • personal narrative to bolster the community
  • students should understand the design orientation of the class
    • research design thinking
      • Stanford D-school
      • Don Buckley
      • IDEO cards
    • mistakes are part of the iterative design process
    • understand autonomy and asking for help
  • creating a PLP
    • brainstorm and outline what you want to learn
      • what is the goal?
    • why embark on this project?
      • what is the personal relevancy?
    • create essential questions to drive the plan
    • identify relevant standards met (with mentor)
    • identify information sources
    • identify resources
    • identify other students for collaboration
    • create a task/activity list  (to-do list)
      • how will you track your progress?
      • document the design process (lab notes)
      • learning journal for each class
      • plan for next class
      • resources required for  next class
      • review industry news related to your project (and journal)
    • establish milestones that require a checkup with your mentor
    • estimate how long the activities and capstone project will take to complete
    • create a capstone project
      • identify how the capstone will be used to assess student learning
      • identify real world applications of your project
      • commercial implications – how could you make money with your new skills?
      • post-mortem journal about PLP itself
        • areas that were successful
        • areas for improvement