Monday 7 January 2013

iTeachFreely: Applied Learning 1 - what is applied learning?

As you may or may not be aware, here at Canons, one of the ways we share our good teaching and learning practice is during Teaching and Learning Communities directed time (or TLCs for short).

I head up the Applied Learning TLC and thought it would be a good opportunity to distill some thoughts on here of what it means and why it's important.

So what are the aims of the year in the Applied Learning TLC? Well all TLCs are running in a similar format. It's all about Joint Practice Development (JPD). We want to make sure as much good practice is transferred between teachers as possible. After receiving training in how to coach each other (thanks @ieshasmall) we utilised this new skillset to break into "coaching triads", allowing staff to focus on where they want to head with their pedagogy and how to get there.

So what is applied learning? BASICALLY: applied learning is a style of learning which equips and prepares people for life, learning and employment. As a product of the modern GCSE system myself, I find myself only now understanding how to learn. I found GCSEs challenging but excelled in them in terms of grades, then A Level came along with the requirement to self direct my learning and think about my subject synoptically. In retrospect I now know my failures at A Level were completely down to my inability to link my ideas together. I wasn't being challenged to deepen my thinking and was simply memorising facts and processes. It is this hindsight that makes things like SOLO taxonomy and @Totallywired77's Punk Learning so attractive to me. They truly prepare our students for lifelong learning. It would bring me no end of pleasure to think students in the future will look back on their time under my tutelage and feel I taught them more than just science and bad puns.

Applied learning is a very broad focus (is that an oxymoron?) but I want to direct my TLC towards Punk Learning which incorporates project based learning, student set objectives, creativity and life enhancing skills, all scaffolded by SOLO's excellent structure of progression to constantly challenge.

I supplied my TLC group with the following manifesto to get them thinking about applied learning. I can't remember how much of it was taken from another source, apologies if it was from you, please get in touch so I can give you credit.

Applied learning:

  • links learning to the real world making it more relevant to students and giving a greater sense of purpose to what they are doing.
  • places equal emphasis on knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • gives students increasing opportunities to use and apply their learning so that they can see their learning in action and extend and develop it still further.
  • requires students to be more active in their learning so that they are partners in the learning process rather than passengers or spectators – there is strong evidence that learning is much more powerful and lasting when this is happening.
  • places greater emphasis on ‘deep learning’ that builds on, and makes connections with, students’ prior learning and experiences, as opposed to the simplistic rote recall of facts and what has been called ‘shallow learning’.
  • requires students to increasingly take responsibility for their own learning, planning and organising progressively more challenging tasks and extended activities, so they are better prepared for future learning and life.
  • supports students to reflect upon and develop their learning skills so that they become increasingly more effective as learners and better equipped for the future.
Watch this space for more musings on Applied Learning soon!


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