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Award-winning author of “OPEN: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future” speaks about “Self-Determined Learning”

David Price is an award-winning education writer that develops innovative programs to re-engage learners. His forward-thinking ideas and practical strategies have increased student engagements across a wide age and geographical demographic. His recent book “OPEN: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future”  provides an excellent insight into ways educational models can be adapted to today’s rapidly-changing world. Since much of his approach hinges on collaborative learning, we asked him a few questions to shed light on how his finding relate to the service learning and on-line global collaboration platforms ASAC endorses. 

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Hello David. Thanks for joining us. One of your catch-phrases is “Self-determined learning.” Can you define this for our readers? 

Sure. This graph (see link here) lists some of the characteristics as I see them – best seen as a walking journey. The three models are 1) Teacher-led: I know where I want you to go, and I’ll show you how to get there; 2) Self-directed: I know where you need to go, but I’ll let you partially explore your own route; and 3) Self-determined: you know where you want to go, you’ve chosen the destination and the route. 

How does service learning coalesce with the “open” classrooms you envision in your book? 

Very much so. Open schools are ‘learning commons:’ democratic places where learning is routed in the community and students do ‘work that matters.’  Projects that are authentic and contribute something to their communities fit very well with service learning.

Have you experimented with any of the current on-line global collaboration platforms (iEARN, TIGed, Flat Connections, etc.)? Do you see these platforms as effective tools to propagate the “open” educational system you endorse? 

I have not really played with any of those. Platforms matter, of course, but only in so far as they ease the connection between participants and allow good, meaningful work to happen. The more open they are, the better.

Right, “the more open, the better” seems to be the mantra. What is the first step you would recommend for teachers/administrators looking to embrace an open classroom? And, is this something a teachers can initiate on their own? 

Absolutely – “be the change” and all that. First step? Find out your students passions, and design learning around those passions. Make student work public (“do it for the world to see”), engage with local experts, and aim to do some of the learning out of the classroom (physically or virtually). Lastly, highlight purpose, passion and participation in the design of learning (allowing learners to co-design  learning).

Sound advice. Are there any success stories you would like to share from schools that have been able to adopt the “open” educational model you endorse? 

Gosh, too many to list: check out High Tech High (San Diego); Hartsholme Academy/EOS Alliance (UK); Campbelltown Performing Arts High School/ Northern Beaches Christian School (Sydney); St Paul’s School (Brisbane); Springdales School (New Delhi). There are great schools all over the world – just not enough of them! 

Wonderful. Thanks for your participation. Readers can link with David through his Engaged Learning Blog or on Twitter @educationalarts or @davidpriceobe. His book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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