Exploring Student-Designed Curriculum

Mylene DiPenta, from NSCC, and two her students ,Tim Bargen & Ryan Pulsifer, will present a session at the Conference.  They take this opportunity to share with us their process:

On Thursday, two students and I will present a workshop on “Exploring Student-Designed Curriculum” at the Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning.  If you’ll be at the conference, please join us!

We hope to take UDL’s “multiple means” to a new level: how much of the curriculum can students design themselves?  Beyond letting students choose how they engage, to what extent can we empower students to choose what they engage with? For a more detailed exploration of how this connects to UDL philosophy, see my previous post.

WHY SHOULD STUDENTS DESIGN THE CURRICULUM?

Tim Bargen, one of the students with whom I’ve co-designed this workshop, offers a few thoughts.

“I don’t usually have [trouble getting engaged]; usually it’s the opposite, unless I’m depressed.  It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that the lab gave me an idea and now I’m cruising eBay looking for parts for some project, or busy tracking rabbits on Wikipedia.”

That degree of focus has made school itself an obstacle for Bargen, who describes his previous experiences with school as “depressing.”  “When I have trouble getting motivated, it’s that I’m already too far behind” because of time spent on work that can’t be submitted for credit.

“I’ve failed/withdrawn from several university programs, with this downward spiral of decreasing engagement being a major contributor. More recently, I had an instructor who was aware and understanding of this difficulty. I believe that this was at least partially responsible in (somewhat) preventing the downward spiral and decreasing engagement. Obviously, experience, ‘maturity’, medication… all had a part to play here as well, but I still think this had a significant impact. I often have difficulty falling asleep; likely something like Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. Rather than being awake all night doing unrelated activities, I often spent that same time interacting with the course material.”

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “STUDENT-DESIGNED CURRICULUM,” AND HOW DO WE DO IT?

We’ll describe 3 main techniques from the point of view of the instructor and the students, give participants some time to try one of those techniques, and then take questions.

To read more about Mylene DiPenta, Tim Bargen & Ryan Pulsifer’s presentation, continue to this blogue.

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