In The Future of College: Forget Lectures and Let the Students Lead, Fast Company’s Design, looks at “Purpose Driven Learning”
In human-centered design observing how users modify a tool so that it takes on a different function or better addresses a need can be the basis for innovation. As we strive to design new learning systems, the same idea applies: We can also look at the learners’ dynamic ability to self-organize and adapt institutional learning.
The article cites great examples of student initiatives, like Northwestern’s Global Engagement Summit, and the University of Chicago’s Shark Tank-like Venture business school program, and revisit the Thiel Foundation .
LI4Es community robotics program has been effectively employing the idea of student led learning for the last three years, and other FIRST robotics and other similar hands on learning programs work to similar ends. Learning is most meaningful when it’s relevant.
Design writer Trung Le sums it up well when he says, “The insular nature of academia could lead to its demise, but these students also see tremendous value in its ability to incubate. Universities become testing grounds where students can find mentors, receive funding, and iterate initiatives with real-world consequences. The design community can debate where innovation comes from, but we can no longer look to authoritarian, top-down dictation to drive societal change. If the blossoming of this pattern doesn’t point to a new trend in education, then it at least represents what these higher-ed institutions must become.”
We’d go a step further and say this new pattern represents what all centers of learning must become.
For more reading and information:
- RyansWorld: Student-Led Learning
- The Dojo Model for Student-Led Learning
- Children Self-Organizing Online Communities
- Student-led Learning at Calgary School Draws Interest from Down Under <—a 40 year old experiment!