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         Instructional Technology – ICL – PYP – Project Zero – International Education

August 25, 2013

Student Designed Learning: “Somewhere in between…” Regular Classroom and Virtual


Sophia Pink, an 11th grader at Washington International School (WIS) in the District of Columbia, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post and created a video about her experiences last year when she left the regular classroom to design and experience her own learning program. In the article Sophia notes of her experiences taking high school online courses from Johns Hopkins University while also picking up classes from Udacity as she ventured into the world of MOOCs. Sophia was also able to pursue her interests and create projects that were not part of the set 10th grade curriculum at WIS.

Sophia missed the learning from collaborating with her WIS classmates but she enjoyed having more control over how her days would run as well as time spent on individual courses. She concludes that regular schools and online learning both have a place for students as “somewhere in between” the two makes the most sense to her.

I am sure that being such a self-directed and responsible learner definitely was a big part of admin at WIS and Sophia’s parents supporting Sophia’s self-designed learning program. Having choice, being able to control one’s time and being allowed to pursue one’s interests are a big part of what we consistently hear schools should be doing for their students. It is important to note that there are some schools that offer students experiences similar to Sophia’s.

It is nice to see that the leaders at my new school (I started this summer at WIS) so value students that they were open to support Sophia’s learning journey. The next step will be to see how we can offer a more hybrid approach to our curriculum where more students take courses in and outside of school while pursing their interests.

Talk about authentic learning, writing an opinion article and producing a video for a major newspaper definitely are a couple biggies when it comes to connecting one’s learning to the real world. Also, do look to review an earlier post where I wrote about Sophia as an accomplished videographer.


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