One of the key design goals behind the Free Learning pedagogy was encouraging students to direct their own learning. Based on the experience that many students lack the skills to make the most of pure inquiry-based learning, Free Learning makes use of a map of varied learning opportunities to challenge students.

Over the past week I have been introducing the students and teachers of Year 5 and 6 at ICHK HLY (our Primary campus) to Free Learning. I have explained to students that the starting map is very small, but that I will be adding units as we go:

In particular, we are aiming to add units based on what students want to learn, in order that they feel themselves to be important agents within their own learning. The mechanism here is that the evidence that students submit to their first unit (Free Learning For Students, circle in blue in the map above, as an entry point) is a list of goals for ICT learning. By collating this list we have managed to put together the following list of units that students wish to have access to, and we are now in the process of building them:

  • Computer Teardown & Rebuild
  • ChromeBook Basics
  • Coding
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Building A Website
  • Computer security
  • Google Drive
  • Wifi troubleshooting
  • Web browsers
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Game design
  • Research skills
  • Drawing online
  • VR world building
  • Lego
  • Inside a phone
  • Chemicals in electronics
  • 3D Printer
  • Digital Art
  • Installing Adobe Flash Player
  • Makes Makey

Given that these students are between 9 and 10 years old, this list constitutes a remarkably diverse and interesting self-directed curriculum. Being a typical teacher, I had underestimated their own self awareness in terms of what they don’t yet know, and was taken aback by the extent of this list. In reflecting on this process it strikes me that this offers us a useful model to apply to the challenge of engaging students and encouraging agency, self-direction and motivation.

Now to start building some of those units…