Learning Preferences

KWLast night, I watched the BBC’s production of The Casual Vacancy.

I saw all three episodes in one sitting. I thought it was an excellent adaptation of the J K Rowling novel.

What made the production special for me was Abigail Lawrie’s performance as the 16 year old schoolgirl, Krystal Weedon.

I was fascinated by her relationship with her teachers and her coach. She seemed to have remarkable clarity about her learning needs in the midst of a life spent caring for her mum and her young brother.

The BBC said of her character:

“Krystal is a cocky 16-year-old. All swagger, sass and a foul mouth …”

“If she had the opportunities that other kids have, she’d be unstoppable but as it is, her life is viciously circumscribed.”

I was still thinking about Krystal as a learner this morning when two of my early morning alerts brought me news of John Croucher’s article in The Conversation on good teaching and Stephen Downes’ link to Ryan Tracey’s discussion of learner preferences.

John wrote of good teaching:

if you cannot explain the concepts in a way that the audience can understand, it doesn’t matter what else you do.

Ryan concludes his discussion of teaching with this observation:

As a profession we need to aim for experiences that are both effective and liked by our audience – or at the very least, don’t turn them away.

Later in the day, I received a DERN notice about a paper written by Curtis Henrie and his colleagues (2015) about student engagement in a blended learning course. The authors note in their abstract:

We found that clarity of instruction and relevance of activities influenced student satisfaction more than the medium of instruction. Student engagement patterns observed in the log data revealed that exploring learning tools and previewing upcoming assignments and learning activities can be useful indicators of a successful learning experience.

The digital divide in Krystal’s home town would mean that she had no access to the internet outside of the school environment (or the local library). I wondered if her own learning preferences would enable her to overcome  ‘vicious circumscription’ of her circumstances. I wondered too if the course design issues raised by Curtis and his colleagues might lead to personal learning environments that connect teachers with learners’ preferences.

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My day ended with a re-viewing of Swallows and Amazons (1974) with my grandchildren. We talked about the six intrepid explorers and their wonderful Summer on Lake Windermere.

Sailing on a lake is a long way from Krystal’s Pagborn but very close in passion for learning and the preferences each of us has as a learner.

Sophie Neville’s post about the making of the film and her discussion of children’s play now makes for a very interesting afterword.

A delightful, bookend type of day.

Photo Credit

Krystal (BBC)

Swallows and Amazons (Woman Magazine)

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