Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 7: Learner Autonomy and the One-computer Classroom

Learner Autonomy
An inspiring article by Dimitrios Thanasoulas entitled What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? provides a definition about it. It is described as 'the ability to take charge of one's learning'. The term' autonomy' has come to be used in at least five ways:
  • for situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
  • for a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
  • for an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
  • for the exercise of learners' responsibility for their own learning;
  • for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning.
In order to enhance learner autonomy in my Structure (English Grammar) class, I distribute the course outline to the students which contain the schedule of the course and list the following components:
- day/date
- material taught/learned
- homework (should be done prior to the class)

By putting the homework they should do before they come to the class, I hope my students will do the exercises coherent with what they are going to learn in the classroom. By doing so, they've got 'prior knowledge' of what I teach and can engage actively in the learning process.

In addition to that, I also assign the students to do extra assignments in Self-Access Center (SAC) by doing pathways. They have to the pathway activity once a week. Their assignments are scored and integrated in the scoring system to determine their final score.

One-Computer Classroom
In many situations where there are not enough computers in the school, it is sometimes enough to have one computer in each classroom to be used by the teacher and the students.  The 7 Categories of Classroom Computer Use provides different ways to make better use of the computer available in the classroom.

In my university there are several so-called multimedia classrooms which have a computer, an LCD projector, a good sound system and a big screen, but not connected to the Internet. I like teaching in those classes as I can make use of the equipments available. I usually explain the materials by using PowerPoint with different font colors, pictures, embedded video to make them interesting for the students to pay attention to. Listening activity can be done well, too.

The advantages of this one-computer class are:
1. The teachers have supporting electronic teaching tools.
2. All students' learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) can be addressed to optimize their potentials.
3. Fun and livelier teaching-learning process.

The disadvantages:
1. Paying too much on the tools available can keep the teachers away from engaging the students actively in the lessons.
2. Having no Internet connection makes the teachers need to download the materials they want to use in the classrooms in advance.

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