To me ’empowered learning’ is a variation on inquiry learning and passion-based learning. It’s about helping students choose their own learning path and support them to be curious and entrepreneurial.
Learning that is centered around the publication and maintenance of blogs. The blogs themselves are a requirement. The content and medium used are often the result of students their own choice (text, video, picture, audio or a combination).
Teachers can push students to think critically about the implications of their content and digital actions through (virtual) discussions with collaborators. In a way this is the modern equivalent of assigning pen-and-paper work, holding class-wide debates driven by research from honest, hard-bound articles and books.
In a twist on the traditional approach of tasks, students tackle a research project in which they try to answer a self-chosen question. The question interests them and deepen the professional development or even crosses boundaries of the common workfield.
Blogging will be the centerpiece of modern student work. Students not only publish most of their work here, but also use blogs to share feedback, collaborate for group assignments, and even hold chat discussions with authors or other subject experts.
Like-minded learners get together around an interest or idea of their choosing, such as leadership, use of social media, entrepreneurship, active learning, healthy living or marketing strategies, depending on personal interest and study. Teachers are encouraging students to share their ideas to boost their performance. The class blog community is a challenging and safe platform to do this.
What about the academic standards we need to teach? There is still room for academic standards. The common standards movement is important in terms of creating benchmarks for students nationwide. You still teach with standards in mind but you just teach inductively from the standards instead of using them as the ceiling! What is the ceiling? That’s up to each individual teacher. Because the reason why we have goals is to have shiny eyes. Empower learners!