Published on 2012/02/29
Empower To Educate
Empowering students helps them see their education in a whole new light. Photo by Robert Snache

The first issue to getting students to engage with their own learning is to agree to disagree and let them know that there is not an entitlement of education for them to pursue. There also has to be a mitigation of standards when it comes to the ability to connect with the students on more than just the classroom level.

You need to teach them empowerment and what that action can do for them based on the fact that they can truly accomplish anything. Then you look at engagement and the ability to find that common denominator that strikes or resonates with their thought process and sociological demands of social interaction. Technology today has altered and changed behavior so it is vital to make sure that you are utilizing technology to move the students, drive interest and also have them look at subjects in a different light.

We also have to set the standards and require their acceptance and utilization rather than to allow them the ability to influence this process. The pathways that we develop and learn by will also mold our career choices and learning outcomes. The other is to show them the bigger picture and let them see what all of the work and hype is about the educational process. This is done by integrating options and really knowing your students. This also is important as you need to build trust and anticipation of their drivers must also follow a plan that they can see the end of the tunnel on the very first day.

Sitting in a classroom is not going to work. For these applications, charge the students with the learning process and have them come up to the board and energize themselves by teaching part of the class. As an instructor, you take a more static roll and allow them to develop and detail their understanding of the subject matter. There are some longer classes (which only meet once a week) so keeping their interest is also important—keeping them looking at what interests them and how to apply this creativity to the class.

There is also hybrid and online/distance learning attributes that have an appeal. This takes more planning and commitment but also opens options that might engage a student. Personally, this works for me as I can explore my understanding but also learn not only from the text but all of the class’s interactions which in a traditional setting are limited or challenged.

There also has to be that touch—the personal side and the one that a call, stop in the hallway or email that shows the interest and peaks the passion for life. Guidance and coordination are not status quo but rather a work in progress as people need to take more risks and let their inhibitions relax as we look to education as a change modification platform towards behavioral components in life.

In the end we are as educators and administrators charged with developing the curriculum and path that incorporates success as well as satisfaction. But we must remember the user—the student who sets the standard not for next year but for the next generation. There is no perfect right or wrong answers but rather the search for that missing piece that makes everything come together.

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Readers Comments

Charles Adams 2012/02/29 at 9:05 am

Do you find this approach works particularly well for any particular group of students, or does it impact the learning of all students similarly?

    John MacDonald 2012/03/02 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for the response-I found that this approach worked on all levels of students from traditional to online/hybrid based. There was also a correlation of acceptance and utilization between the age groups, younger taking it for a test drive but also older students feeling a sense of importance. The ability to communicate, empower and then challenge seem to be a motivator at least at this time for more than one sub-group. In terms of the learning process there is an evolving trend that some response much more in-depth than others and that is consistent among all age and student groups. The biggest challenge was convincing them that it was real and that they are being empowered so education on that is essential as well.

Naomi Woods 2012/03/03 at 7:40 pm

“But we must remember the user—the student who sets the standard not for next year but for the next generation.” This stood out to me particularly since I have been discussing with colleagues whether school is a place where students should learn different ways of using social media. There are people who are passionate on both sides. However, ultimately, the students will set the standard about the necessary tools of the future. I enjoyed reading the article.

John MacDonald 2012/03/06 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for the Response Naomi,

If we were to look at Asian business practices as well as their educational approaches they plan and do all of their analysis over the course of the next century and not as we currently operate on an annual or quarterly basis. It is interesting as we empower the students and their response to raising the bar is exciting.

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