Listening to Our StudentsPosted: February 21, 2011
Thank you Richard for inviting me to guest post at Free Tech 4 Teachers. Thank you for all you do every single day to share with teachers all over the world.
I had a very insightful experience this past Friday that I’d like to share with you before we jump into some conversation starters. Some of my coworkers and I invited students to share with us what they liked (and more importantly what they didn’t like) about taking one of our online courses. Mind you, this was on a district professional development day. Students did not have school. Which means they came voluntarily. I really wasn’t sure heading in to this meeting what to expect. I wondered if they would really open up and talk to us about their experience with the online course(s) they took last semester.
We had about ten students come to this meeting which was great. We took a few minutes at the beginning to frame our time together and then we broke them up into a few smaller groups based on the course they took last semester. We had some guiding questions to get the conversation going and once that happened, I couldn’t take notes fast enough. This was a good thing. A very good thing I quickly realized.
The students did such a great job of sharing what made the course(s) engaging and relevant for them. They were sincere, honest, and respectful with their criticisms (I didn’t expect them to be disrespectful). Nothing was out of line with their requests and suggestions for how to make the courses better. Needless to say, they all had excellent points. These students were truly “getting it” about what e-learning should look like and understood its place in the rest of their educational lives. They understood where our program began, where it is now, and what we’re planning the future of our online program to look like.
When this meeting was over I was blown away with these students. I was so proud of them and it was the first time I’d met them! They were so helpful. We immediately began a Google Doc for all of us to compile our thoughts from the furious note-taking we’d done.
Here’s my question: Why are we not doing this more? Particularly for me I think about its potential to leverage educational technology additions and improvements. Are we spending enough time listening to students and in turn using their input to make education in general better? Kids have great things to say if we make the time to value them and listen.
I’d love to hear more ideas and examples from you in the comments section. I’ve already had some great discussions on Twitter around this topic so feel free to chat with me there too.
Thank you for reading.