1) Alternative credentialing, 2) Experimentation in new teaching models and learning spaces, and 3) Student-driven personalized learning.
I came across this article yesterday and thought that three trends are those that we are actually working on in our homeschooling practice. Of course, what we do is quite different from the learning industry, but the themes are there.
The first one and the last one are very related for me. We are experimenting with various ways to document and log learning, trying to find a sweet spot where the effort that goes into documentation doesn’t disrupt activities that are being documented. At the same time documentation is an instrument for reflection, recognising patterns and planning, all creating the ground for making choices where to go further.
There is also a whole bunch of challenges that sits under ‘student-driven personalized learning’. The biggest one is pretty much similar to what Euan Semple describes in coping with lack of structure (FB discussion):
Unless I am working with a client, or have booked meetings or phone calls, my days are pretty free-form. This is both a curse and a blessing. When I am focused and motivated it is a blessing, as I can shape my day around the things I have to do and the best times to do them. When I am down on energy and drifting it is a curse as any attempt to turn my mood around is up to me.
For me that’s currently about the search for unschooling structures that work for us and, also, dealing with my own challenges in that respect.
Another trend, experimentation with new teaching models and learning spaces, is something that sits very much at the crossing between my identity as a homeschooling parent and my professional background (I joke saying that now I do what I did at work, but on a small scale and with not representative sample).
Playing with various learning spaces and observing their effects on learning is something that we are busy for a while now, turning our house into a one big learning space. Our current focus in this respect on access to materials and ways to organise them, as well as finding a good way to blend digital into physical.
In respect to learning models my main focus now is experimenting with various ways to bring together mixed-age group learning and the exposure to real-life practices and problems. This combination works easier at the family level: including kids in every day practices and recognising and encouraging learning during those practices is something that we just do. Bringing that beyond family, at a community level is a challenge – formal educational system separates children from adult, real-life society, so old practices of legitimate peripheral participation are lost and have to be established all over. And this is something that is very cool to work on in practice (I should write about it too :).
Those three themes are actually those that capture a lot about the essence of homeschooling for me now. Student-driven personalised learning as a main driving force for homeschooling, experimentation with learning models and environments as a mean to get something that works that way and looking for alternative models for learning assessment as a way to improve and as a mean to judge where we are in relation to the formal educational system.