Student-centered learning — in which students are independent
learners who take charge of their own
education — has become something of a
holy grail among educators. But the problem with holy grails is that they
quickly start to seem unattainable.
Part of the reason
is that many teachers have misconceptions about student-centered classrooms and
what it takes to achieve that type of learning environment, said LeeAnn Lindsey,
an educational technologist and innovation leader at Arizona State
"Sometimes teachers think that shifting to a student-centered
classroom will be too difficult and they're not quite sure where to begin," she
said. "But teachers can make small, easy changes that will make a
In her webinar on "Student-Centered Learning: Make the
Shift!," she explores strategies for
helping students become independent learners and provide examples of what
student-centered learning looks like in action. She'll also shed light on some
of the common myths about student-driven learning, such
Either your classroom is student centered, or it's not.
There is a continuum of teaching styles that use technology,
ranging from teacher-centered to student-centered learning. Many teachers
start out at the entry level, using technology within a traditional classroom
model. At the opposite end lies the transformation level, where teachers coach
students through a self-directed learning process whereby students choose from a
variety of technology to meet their needs.
"Teachers do not have to choose between being a sage on the stage
and a guide on the side," Lindsey said. "Understanding the continuum and the
shades of gray between teacher- and student-centered learning helps teachers
make shifts toward student-centered practices."
It's not realistic to expect to leap from one end of the continuum
to the other. Rather, she encourages teachers to assess where they are and start
making small changes to slowly shift toward the transformation
2. In a student-centered classroom, the teacher never
Most classrooms will shift back and forth across the continuum,
using a variety of teacher- and student- centered approaches, depending on the
needs of the day. It's important not to get caught up in thinking you need to
avoid teacher-centered learning at all costs.
"I don't think the goal is to have student-centered lessons 100
percent of the time," Lindsey said. "Rather, the goal should be to meet the
needs of students in ways that encourage active learning and independent
thinking. Sometimes the best delivery method at the moment is
demonstration through direct instruction. That's okay — I just hope that's not
where teachers stay all the time."
Using technology automatically makes your classroom student
Technology offers fertile opportunities to create a
student-centered learning environment by allowing students to create and to
explore their passions like never before. But its effectiveness depends entirely
on who's using it and how.
"I've heard some people make statements suggesting that lessons
that integrate technology are transformational, alluding to student-centered
learning and so forth," Lindsey said. She thinks these statements give
technology too much credit. "The teacher is still the most important factor in
the equation. How the technology is
An easy gauge of teacher vs. student-centered learning is to ask,
who's using the technology — you or your students?
"If the students are, are you telling them what technology to use?
Are you micro-managing their use of technology? What tools are they using?
Flexible tools that can do many things, or tools that have only one specific
purpose? Reflecting on these questions can help teachers to move along the
Teachers don't have time for student-centered learning — they're too busy trying
to meet the Common Core.
Many educators have expressed concern that the Common Core State
Standards will make it even harder to
create student-driven learning experiences. It's one more set of standards to
meet on top of all of the other expectations placed on
"I hear all the time people saying, 'This (student-centered
teaching) is the way I want to teach but the standards are keeping me from doing
that. I'm just trying to keep my head above water and teach the standards, so I
don't have time to do what I really want to do.' That's a misconception,"
The truth is that the Common Core requires students to develop the
types of skills they learn best in a student-centered environment. That means
now is the perfect time for educators to begin teaching in the way they've
always wanted — and still meet the standards.
Learn more about how student-centered learning can help you meet the Common Core
and ISTE Standards, and discover simple ways to make the shift, in LeeAnn
Lindsey's webinar on "Student-Centered Learning: Make the