Rhizo14 Week 2: Independence and Learner Motivation

This week, Dave has challenged us to create a model of enforced independence. Isn’t this at least a bit oxymoronic.  If you have to enforce independence , is the learner truly independent, or is she dependent on you for her (forced) independence?

My other thought stems from a comment Dave made in the week 2 video in which he presented learning to drive or cook as models of the kind of learner independence we are seeking.  Another thing that sets these apart is motivation. If one is not wealthy enough to eat out all the time, cooking is a necessary skill if one wishes to eat.  In many (but not all) places driving is a necessary skill for those wishing to participate in modern society by holding down a job or having a social life.  Necessity does a wonderful job of enforcing learner independence.  Learners are also quite good in many cases at being independent when they are learning what they want to learn.

What if neither of those is the case?  Can you effectively enforce learner independence absent strong internal motivation on the learner’s part?  These questions present themselves in more formal contexts.  For too many students, courses outside their major are hoops to be jumped through.  When the learner goal is to survive/pass with minimal effort, the sorts of behaviors characteristic of independent learning (iteration, seeking out sources)  are perceived as a waste of time.  If you then expect them to be independent and enforce consequences on those who aren’t, you get called in to explain why your students aren’t succeeding.

I suppose the broader question is, “Can a rhizomatic model work with students for whom the learning experience is just a requirement?”

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