"Atelier LearningJohn Seely Brown (2006) draws inspiration for his atelier model of learning from artists and architects and describes learning as “enculturation into a practice”. An art studio is generally an open space where students create their paintings, sculptures, and other art forms in full view of fellow artists. The “master” is then able to observe the activities of all students and can draw attention to innovative approaches. Students are not limited to learning based solely on the expertise of the instructor. The activities of all students can serve to guide, direct, and influence each individuals work. Blogs are particularly amenable to the atelier model of learning. For example, a class on creative writing – where each students posts their work in their own blog – permits the educator to highlight (and comment on) exceptional instances of writing. Students are able to read each other’s work and gain insight from both instructor and their fellow students.
Network AdministratorClarence Fisher (n.d.), blogger and classroom teacher, suggests a model of “teacher as network administrator”: Just as our mind is a continuously evolving set of connections between concepts, so our students and their learning can become placed at the centre of a personal learning network which they construct with our help. Helping students to gain the skills they require to construct these networks for learning, evaluating their effectiveness, and working within a fluid structure is a massive change in how the dynamics of classrooms are usually structured.
In Fisher’s model, a primary task of the educator is to assist learners in forming connections and creating learning networks. As learners encounter new information sources, they are encouraged to critically evaluate the source’s suitability as part of a holistic and diversified learning network. Gaps in the learning network are addressed by both learner (self-directed by active participation in the network and through self-reflection) and educator (through evaluating, with the learner, the nature and quality of the learning network (external) and how key concepts are related and understood (conceptual)).
Concierge LearningCurtis Bonk (2007) presents a model where the educator is a concierge directing learners to resources or learning opportunities that they may not be aware of. The concierge serves to provide a form of soft guidance – at times incorporating traditional lectures and in other instances permitting learners to explore on their own. He states: “We need to push students into the many learning possibilities that are ripe for them now. Concierges sometimes show you things you did not know were available or possible. Teachers as concierges can do the same things. We need to have quick access to such resources, of course, but as this occurs increasingly around the planet, so too will we sense a shift from prescribed learning checkboxes toward more learner designed programs of study. Now the Web of Learning offers this chance to explore and allow teachers to be their tour guides.”
Curatorial LearningCuratorial Learning (Siemens, 2007) acknowledges the autonomy of learners, yet understands the frustration of exploring unknown territories without a map. A curator is an expert learner. Instead of dispensing knowledge, he creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored, and connected. While curators understand their field very well, they don’t adhere to traditional in-class teacher-centric power structures. A curator balances the freedom of individual learners with the thoughtful interpretation of the subject being explored. While learners are free to explore, they encounter displays, concepts, and artifacts representative of the discipline. Their freedom to explore is unbounded. But when they engage with subject matter, the key concepts of a discipline are transparently reflected through the curatorial actions of the teacher."
I am drawn especially to the concepts of concierge and curator. I am well aware through home educating that introducing kids to resources, concepts and knowledge in an area they are interested in is more often that not enough for them to engage in creative and motivated learning. Being a curator appeals as I teach younger children who need to be guided in their exposure to a range of topics. Curating enables them to access things they would otherwise not find and also, importantly, limits inappropriate content.