The educator plays one of the most important roles in determining how young people experience learning. We at Quest have worked with children from diverse age groups and backgrounds for over 12 years, and we have observed that the educator’s role is a constant and highly important factor in young peoples’ learning. How students experience their learning environment has a significant impact on their attitude toward learning as a whole. It is the educator who cultivates this environment and determines how young learners interact with various forms of knowledge and with each other.
At Quest 2 Learn 2018, we had the opportunity to interview David Jul, who is a learning designer at Kaospilot. We discussed how Kaospilot designs learning experiences for its students and how educators use a variety to tools and methodologies to design education environments. In the conversation, David outlined five questions that an educator must ask himself or herself when designing learning experiences.
1. What is my self-perception?
“The first question to ask yourself when designing a learning experience is ‘How do I perceive myself?'”
– David Jul
The self-perception of educators is integral to determining the type of learning experiences they will design. You must see yourself as a learning designer, and you need to recognize yourself as a facilitator of learning in addition to being a conduit of knowledge.
To facilitate effective learning spaces, educators must also think of themselves as method designers. You are in the role of a hacker or a “prototyper.” You won’t get your educational design exactly right immediately. The process involves trying things out, getting feedback, and developing your methods even further. Your experiments with the design process will develop your competence as a facilitator. You should experiment with the setting or where the classroom is held, how the task at hand can be handled, and so on. Draw inspiration from digital methods, and adapt them to your setting. Create a pedagogy that matches the content you are trying to deliver, and make sure it accounts for the needs of the group of learners you are trying to facilitate the learning process for.
2. What is my passion?
The passion for knowledge is one of the most important traits that an educator can foster in his or her students. To achieve this, you must acknowledge your own passion for knowledge as well. Many teachers are trained in certain fields, such as mathematics or literature. By examining the passion you have for the fields you specialize in, you can discover those specific aspects that made you passionate about the subjects in the first place. This self-reflection is an essential step for educators attempting to create a learning environment that fosters the passion for knowledge in students.
3. What is my vision?
In order to design interesting and effective curricula, an educator needs to have a clear core vision. This is like a template for the future of the students. It presents a specific set of outcomes around which you can plan the components of your classes. To develop this core vision, you need to think carefully about what you would like to achieve. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve with these students? What way do I perceive life? What do I want them to go for [in the future]?”
4. Who am I designing this experience for?
Based on the vision, you can start generating ideas as to the kind of learning experiences you want to build. You must also try to create a program for students that supports both personal development and societal needs. What the students’ community needs and what the jobs environment is looking for provide valuable clues into the type of education that is required. Accounting for such factors in the core vision leads to the educational experience being dynamic and socially conscious.
You must also determine the type of students you would like to work with. Students tend to have a diverse range of characteristics and interests. Learning programs are not universal. You need to adapt the learning to the learners. By creating a profile of the type of students you want to work with, you can then design the program to cater to their specific set of needs. To this end, you must ask, “Who are my students? What are they capable of? What is their attitude? How can I ensure that their attitudes and behaviors are productive by the time they graduate my course?”
5. How do I assess the effectiveness of the experience?
For many decades, education has favored the view that students need to learn and reproduce specific pieces of information. Fact- and information-based learning and assessments are still the most commonly used methods in education. However, the goal of education is to help students learn how to acquire knowledge. So how can educators assess the effectiveness of learning experiences that emphasize skills to acquire knowledge?
There are several aspects to consider. As discussed above, an educator must incorporate skills development, practical experience, social responsibility and so on into his or her designs. David outlines a specific assessment tool used by Kaospilot, which is known internally as the competence model. It contains four core competencies that educators at Kaospilot want their learners to have at the end of every program. It also guides how the faculty develop learning spaces.
The four core competencies that the model looks at are subject competence (what one knows), action competence (how to act, to create, and so on), relationship competence (the ability to create professional relationships), and change competence (the ability to understand the changes in the world and how to go about anticipating and/or reacting those changes). Tying all of these together is the fifth competence, value and impact. This final competence is about creating value for individuals, communities, and societies, and learners are assessed on their abilities to create change in their environment. Together, these competencies test learners on virtually every aspect of their education.
The competence model can also provide valuable clues toward designing a learning experience. Each competency provides a set of capabilities that every student should have at the end of their academic courses. Further, there are numerous other factors that this model encourages the educator to consider, such as the learners’ attitudes, behaviors, mindset toward what they do, ability to learn, perceptions of life, interactions with others, and so on. As an educator, you can work backwards from these competences to design your learning experience.
Watch the whole interview with David below for more insights on how to design a learning experience. The interview was conducted by Neha Parti of Quest Alliance.
Neha Parti, Associate Director, Change School at QUEST Alliance
David Jul, Project Manager at Kaospilot and Independent Process Consultant