Homework can cause a lot of headache at home. The Knowledge Constructors system is based on a personal study plan, and the student is free to study at home, at school or anywhere s/he chooses to. Thus the student can integrate his/her studies as an natural part of his/her life and at the same time learns to plan his/her time and goal setting.
Parents get regular feedback through the reports from tutors.
The aim of the Knowledge Constructors study system is to enable autonomous study in any kind of learning environment.
What is Student Centeredness and why is it important?
Learning is an remarkably well-developed skill in our species. No other species can learn and create new behavioral responses to new situations as diversely and flexibly as us humans. Thus learning is a natural and spontaneous phenomenon, which people don’t have to be forced or guided to. Learning improves the survival possibilities of people in the changing environment. Learning brings also pleasure, which guides us to learn more and diverse things.
Since learning is a natural process, it felt only rational to build the learning environments to support this natural process. We live in a world, which is changing in an increasingly rapid speed. The world requires us of ever greater ability to adapt. It seems only common sense that the primary function of the school would be to create learning environments, which help students to learn these adaptation and flexibility skills. These skills cannot be taught by forcing the students into certain mold or defining rigid instructions on how to work.
To help students learn independence, co-operation, adaptation skills and creativity, the students should be brought up in an environment which requires these skills and abilities.
In Knowledge Constructors the natural curiosity, self-determination and active nature of people have been taken into account. The curriculum has been created based on these traits, into questions and tasks, which don’t let the student get away with it too easyly but require an active attitude and provide an opportunity to learn diverse social and information acquiring skills.
The Role of Teachers and Tutors
In student-centered learning the teacher’s task is to ensure that the student has learnt the knowledge and the skills included in the study plan, and offer his/her own know-how when asked for and to be present to his/her students as a human being and as a co-learner.
The role of the tutor is a bit different. The tutor gathers his/her tutorees together and organizes for them common activities and supports their studying and planning work. Especially in the beginning students need a lot of support to get in to this new kind of study system and culture.
In each theme there are some group tasks, which encourage the students to co-operate. The group tasks cannot be completed alone, so the student has to find a group to work with.
Studying should be based on inner motivation as much as possible. With Knowledge Constructors this is achieved through freedom of choice of questions/tasks, group, schedule and lessons.
Ideally, lessons are supposed to be organized based on the help requests of the students. This way the students attending the lessons are genuinely motivated to be there.
The opportunity to influence the pace and to a great degree the content of the studies too give the student a sense of being in control, which further encourages the student to take an active role in his/her studies.
Arts and Crafts
the Arts and Crafts subjects include questions and tasks just like all the other subjects. They are based mostly on practicing new skills. The system tells which skills are needed and the student is free to find a way to practice those skills.
The official evaluation criteria of the Finnish elementary schools are included in the system and can be used by students for self-evaluation. The objective of studies is to reach those criteria through the questions and tasks while learning for life.
Since the students are free to choose their own studies, it’s also possible for them to study in their own pace. This provides an opportunity to study faster or slower or go deeper in the desired subjects. The system is being extended into High Schools and Vocational Schools so that the elementary school students could flexibly pick studies from the higher levels too.
The Information Revolution
Knowledge is no longer something that is transferred in a certain place into the heads of the students. Information is everywhere. More important than collecting loads of information is to learn to find the information and to process it. Through Internet we have access to almost limitless amount of information just at the tip of our fingers.
Knowledge Constructors is based on active information retrieval and learning. The students are not given the right answers, defined study materials or rules on how to study. The central task of the student is to find the essential information for the questions and to process it into a meaningful whole.
The system encourages students to learn from each other. After the student has answered a question, s/he can choose and let others know whether s/he wants to help other students in completing that question. This allows students to see who the other students willing to help are, and instead of getting help from teacher, tutor or the library, the student can ask help from his/her friends and peers.
The system also includes a Shoutbox, which enables students to send instant messages like questions to everyone else using the system. The student is never alone with his/her studies, but s/he has always a full network of supporters around.