Student agency may seem like just another edu-term to add to the already crowded edtech encyclopedia housed in your brain, but this one is here to stay! More than just “student responsibility’ — it is a set of skills and beliefs that will allow your students to take true ownership of their learning. To learn about the Evolution of Digital Citizenship, check out our infographic and webinar to see where we started, and how we got to this point in student agency. Here are a few ways in which student agency will forever change your teaching practice:
Our students will live and work in a digital landscape that we cannot even fathom at this point. Remember your flip phone and only being able to rent DVDs instead of stream them? That seems like only yesterday, but it might as well be a million years ago as far as our digital progression.
Learners need student agency, the ability to manage their own digital work and collaborate with peers. Digital environments allow learners to have complete access to their classwork, class calendar, and important teacher updates. This means you do not have to be the gatekeeper of all information and gone are the days of being a human message board! All of the things you used to have to do for learners — like writing important dates and info on the board or keeping track of their paper assignments — are now tasks that students must do for themselves. The secret sauce to making this work is to model it for learners. We cannot assume that they know what it looks like to have organized Drive folders, or how and when to submit work online. You can even create videos that show how to use your digital learning environment and post them in a Hapara Workspace!
If learners don’t know where they are, they can’t know where they need to go. One way to promote student agency is to show your students a roadmap to success by lifting the veil on what their assessments mean. A great place to start is to model a round of “data talks” with learners — start with explaining their pre-test scores and what they mean as far as mastery of the standards addressed. Next, have learners create goals for how they want to increase their level of mastery, and the steps they will take to achieve this.
You can create a Google Form students will fill out to help them to monitor their progress in Google Sheets and keep a “data diary” that shows how much closer they are to reaching their goals with each formative assessment you give. Finally, let learners reflect on their progress after they have taken their summative assessments to discuss whether or not they reached their goals, and if not, allow them to say how they would change their approach and have them re-take the assessment. Remember, the idea of goal setting is to work toward mastery so allow more chances for students to achieve their goals.
Student Agency and Classroom Management
Often, student behavior in the classroom has underlying causes that we are not able to see or understand. Students want to feel as though they are capable of success in the classroom, but lack proper guidance. Educators must give clear guidelines as to what constitutes positive online behavior, otherwise learners will feel arbitrarily punished.
One way of accomplishing this is using Highlights to monitor student behavior, and have important discussions about proper use of technology in the classroom. You may start by creating guided sessions where you can filter sessions to exclude certain websites, or focus sessions where you limit students to specific sites pertaining to the lesson. Over time, slowly release students to have free rein over their online browsing which will boost their confidence and increase the trust in your student-teacher relationship. Similarly, the Snaps feature can start as a tool to document student misuse, but over time can be used to highlight proper use and give students recognition for showing maturity in their online journey.
At Hapara, we’re working on new tools to help promote student agency. If you’ll be at ISTE 2019, swing by booth #2430 for our next big product announcement, or watch this space to learn more!