A few weeks ago I saw a title for a workshop that asked "How many people would appear if faculty meetings were voluntary?" When I asked the members of my department that question they immediately replied, "none!" To me, the heart of the workshop title was about making meetings useful, meaningful, and interesting. If faculty meetings seem universally disliked, how are we doing with our classes? What if we asked, "How many students would appear if classes were voluntary?" Would the answer be more positive than it is for faculty meetings?
I never want to stop learning. How do I inspire that in my students? How do I keep my courses relevant, interesting, informative, and useful? How do I cultivate a desire to come to class to learn? How do I cultivate learning within my classroom? These questions keep me fresh. They help me learn more not only about my content but about the manner in which education is facilitated. For many years, education was delivered. I have always wanted my students to be producers of their education, not simply consumers of it.
This new era of technology and the read/write possibilities can offer new methods for facilitating and producing learning. It should be clear by now that I love questions. In part, for students to become active producers of their education they must learn to develop effective questions. It is easy to find an abundance of information on the web. What we need to help our students learn is how to craft questions which will help them burrow through mounds of information and then to determine which information is useful, accurate, and effective in answering their questions. These questions should help them write more authentic responses than simply trying to fill spaces with responses to vague themes.
So, this is my quest with 21st century learning. How can we help students develop questions and navigate through the information. I hope, then, that they will say, "yes, I would come to class even if I wasn't required to do so."