I am asking myself some big questions these days. It could be my age, or my phase of life, but all of these questions begin with “Why?” Why am I on this planet? Why did I chose to the field of education for my career? Why does education of all ages continue to interest and intrigue me? Why am I teaching other teachers about learner centered instruction? Why does learner centred instruction matter?
I am still grappling with some of these questions, but I do have two good answers for the last question.
1. Learner centred teaching leads to self directed learning. It allows students to be active in learning decisions, rather than passively leaving all decisions up to the instructor. It gives them a chance to make some choices about their learning and these choices lead to greater satisfaction with their courses. Students engage more when have a say in how the class will function, or have a choice in the format of a major assignment, or maybe even have some input regarding their mark. The chance for this input sends the message that their opinions matter. This bit of “power” can ignite a spark of passion for the learning and become the intrinsic motivator that instructors hope to see in their students.
2. Learner centered instruction fosters peer collaboration. The instructors that participate in the LCI (Learner Centred Instruction) blended learning program at Okanagan College work as a cohort of 15 – 18 members. Many assignments encourage sharing of best practices and ideas. They teach a mini- lesson to fellow classmates midway through the program that allows for feedback and encouragement in many areas of instruction. In the last two courses, all instructors are required to interview and observe another “seasoned” instructor at OC. These learning opportunities further advance the sharing of resources and best practice and broaden the collaboration across all departments.
So, why does learner centered teaching matter to me?
As an avid life long learner, I understand what is needed to create a positive learning experience. I need to be engaged in the learning process and the content must be relevant to what I am currently doing in my work world. When these two stars align, I am ‘hooked’ and can spend endless hours on a learning activity. Time is not wasted, in my opinion, when learning is happening; the hours pass by in a satisfying and rewarding way. Leading students to this ‘zone’ of learning is gift that learner centered instructors give to their students – a gift that will be meaningful to them throughout their life; it is a gift that matters.