How Independent Learners Thrive in an Evolving World

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Independent learners: photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

How Independent Learners Thrive in an Evolving World

Jovana Čenejac

As a teacher, I am continually reconsidering classroom strategies to provide an engaging environment in order to maintain the motivation and enthusiasm of my students. An inviting classroom atmosphere creates independent learners. Creating this environment is an integral part of supporting students in an evolving professional world. Without respecting and responding to their needs, students could easily fall behind the world’s rapidly changing requirements. However, there are numerous milestones recognizing and supporting the needs of students that can turn them into livelong independent learners.

Meeting diversity: appreciating the differences

Apart from appreciating the differences in what triggers students’ motivation, a close observation of their attitudes and and aptitudes is essential for independent learners. Leading to a limited engagement, the ill-conceived one size fits all model proved to be ineffective. We are still facing the terrible consequences of traditional practice. In fact, every 26 seconds a student drops out from high school? Change is critical for future success.

With educational technology, mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities.
Traditional lecture, worksheets, homework and tests simply do not work. Our classrooms are a mixture of students with a wide range of needs. Some are constantly struggling or have special needs that must be addressed efficiently. Today’s educator must help all students, even those with learning disabilities, to embrace digital learning and understand how to become independent learners. It’s time to stop holding their hands.

Fostering lifelong learning

In a fast paced world dependent on technology, our students skills may become obsolete. This is why it is essential for teachers to foster independent learning strategies. However, this cannot be done properly without taking a close observation of our environment. As teachers, we should be constantly seeking for ways to spark innovation, instill creativity, and inspire collaboration in our classrooms.

The truth is our students are digital natives. Tremendous technology has changed their behavior as well as demands, both inside and outside our classrooms. Now more than ever, teachers must provide virtual content that students can easily relate to their own experience. Teachers must also encourage meaningful collaboration and communication with their peers. Of course, they are looking for constructive feedback. Teaching students how to effectively use feedback helps them become independent learners, who will be able to navigate an evolving professional world.

The digital connection

Of course, with edtech implementation, risk-taking is unavoidable and necessary if we want to prepare our students for an evolving world.

With educational technology, mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities. This will embolden students to take on challenging tasks. Of course, with a teacher’s guidance, students can easily create various strategies and test them, too, to see which one suits their needs best. This creates independent learners.

Teachers and students have a choice: to fearlessly progress toward our goals, or stand still in front our challenges. Independent learners accept their weaknesses and are ready to work on them.

With its tremendous opportunities, educational technology helps us create the perfect student-centered learning environment to foster independent learning. This is precisely what our students need: an opportunity to grow and develop in a safe environment while at the same time getting ready for the requirements of the 21st century.

Jovana Čenejac is a teacher who works with independent learners in a virtual environment. She is currently building an application to enhance digital strategies for independent learners. Learn more here.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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