Rich Reflection: The Web We Need to Give Students

Rich Reflection, “The Web We Need to Give Students,” Bright

I think, generally speaking, it’s best to empower people to help themselves, rather than simply do the task for them. If given the opportunity and the tools, people will take ownership of a project or an idea or their community, and that’s when progress can really start to happen.  This concept of empowerment and agency stuck with me as I read “The Web We Need to Give Students,” particularly as I read this section:

 “But almost all arguments about student privacy, whether those calling for more restrictions or fewer, fail to give students themselves a voice, let alone some assistance in deciding what to share online. Students have little agency when it comes to education technology — much like they have little agency in education itself… It’s important that learners have control over their work — their content and their data.”

I agree with this article that student agency in education is important, particularly in higher education. Interestingly, thinking about student agency and empowerment made me think of another term I’d heard recently: adhocracy. According to a McKinsey & Company article, there are three organizational models for running a business (or, organizing education, as the case may be). Meritocracy means decisions are made based on data or authoritative individual knowledge/skill. In bureaucracies, formal authority or seniority is privileged. In adhocracy, “action is privileged.” In other words, “the default in an adhocracy is to experiment—to try a course of action, receive feedback, make changes, and review progress.” This recursive, experimental type of approach to managing student web presence sounds similar to the ideas contained in “The Web We Need to Give Students.” TraditionThis image provides a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which reads: "The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained and he only holds the key to his own secret."al bureaucratic models of housing and managing student work can evolve into something more “adhocratic” as students have the opportunity to experiment with their own web presence and responsibly curate their own scholarly contributions.

According to Paulo Friere as quoted here, traditional educational models presuppose the teacher/university as the entity that bestows knowledge onto the student. Teachers lecture; students take notes. The university sets curriculum; students study it. Instead of this traditional model, Friere proposes that students and learners should be treated as “co-creators” of knowledge. By giving students their own web domain, we move closer to providing students with the opportunity to be a “co-creator” of knowledge, and we give them the opportunity to exercise agency in their own education.

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