The class started off as an experiment to find ways to increase student engaged learning and to find a way to make learning more meaningful and relevant. I researched a bit on game mechanics in education and found a wealth of great research and strategies that I have been using going on five years now.
My goal was to teach Digital Photography in a way that mimics the challenges of freelance and photography professions in the “real world”. I tried to accomplish this through a class with a job like atmosphere. All year students are introduced to various scenario-based lessons, modeled by real world problems that they must solve using the skills they learn in the class. The Game On WordPress plugin has helped me create an environment where students see their progress kind of like one would in a video game. I wanted to incorporate scenario and project based learning because of educations horrible trend of teaching for the test. I wanted to do something different, something relevant. My rationale for this course was to prepare students with 21st-century workforce skills that will be reciprocated through the entirety of their lives. If we really think about it, 10 years from now no one will care what these students got on their high school history final. But, they will want to know if what they learned in that class can be applied in the new 21st-century work setting.
The goals for this class are founded on principles Dan Pink re-discovered and reported on in his book Drive:
- Autonomy– that you are involved in your own learning process and have the ability to choose what you want to work on. Students are guided to self-direct their learning.
- Mastery– that the goal is to master the concept, not “pass the test” or “make the grade.”
- Purpose– That the student knows WHY they are going the direction they’re going. Make it matter.
I consider myself bit of a constructivist, constructivism is a learning theory that maintains that deeper and more permanent learning happens when the learner is allowed to construct meaning from experience — by doing, analyzing, creating, making, building, researching, synthesizing information, etc. I believe that educators should act as facilitators, guiding learners through the learning process, and allowing them to create meaning from their experience. Problem-centered learning, project-based learning, experiential learning, and discovery learning are all constructivist models of learning that allow the learner to learn through experience. Basically, what I am in this class is a guide on the side not a sage on the stage.
Digital Photography Teacher