[Gail, our Sales Manager, writes her first blog on why giving students choice does not make them autonomous learners.]
It’s a long held belief that giving students choices makes them autonomous learners. Having talked to a school today about the needs of their learners, I’d like to clarify this.
This school teacher had been using the market-leader for ICT-based maths resources for a number of years. He had come to the conclusion that, far from creating autonomous learners, too much choice was doing the opposite.
The software he was using (and 24% of schools in the UK use it) either gives children a choice of games and activities to do, else the teacher can set them work directly. In the first instance, they either do not know what to choose, or default to the easiest choice. In the second instance they are reliant on the teacher.
In using DoodleMaths, children are restricted to two choices: reinforce what has recently been learnt, or learn something new (which is relevant to their individual needs). Children are autonomous because they can choose to do their maths at any time, as much as they like, and see visible improvements in their DoodleMaths Age. The can work independently on content that is exactly matched to their needs. To expect a 7 to 11 year-old to be autonomous to the extent that they know their own learning needs is to expect too much – to the detriment of their progress.
So in future, when challenged that the prescriptive nature of DoodleMaths restricts student autonomy, my answer is simple: autonomy means independence, but independence does not necessarily imply choice – as any parent will know!
P.S. If you’d like to create a classroom of autonomous, independent learners, email me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org or the rest of the team at email@example.com and we will set you up with a school trial.