Challenges of Goal-Setting: In a self-directed learning path, how do you ensure learners hit every mark?

I struggle with the balance between the “autobiographical” mode of discovery and learning, and determining concrete goals that can translate to the public, outside the classroom.

The autobiographical learning method articulated by the Kincheloe team is great (I’ve dubbed it the “choose your own adventure” method). I’m the product of self-selection–my undergraduate institution had no graduation requirements, but as a result my academic experience is very narrow. In the future, I see this narrowness rectified with Stone Wiske’s call for generative, interconnected, interdisciplinary courses that are “bottomless”–”Physics for Poets to the nth Power,” or “Projects in Art & Computer Science” (these are poorly-conceived titles, but I’m sure you know what I mean….) Courses like these, when project-based, have the potential to expose students to skills sets outside their particular realm of interest.

We should also note that goals of our courses have ramifications outside the class: folks can care passionately about what they’re learning, choosing their own learning paths and content, and I’m totally there–for real. However, employers will want to know if one possesses concrete skills, technical skills, tangible skills. And there’s a term for when specific skills are needed and the workforce at large doesn’t have them (structural unemployment). Even in this downturn, ask a developer what they charge an hour, and how many jobs s/he has turned down this year, and you’ll see what I mean.

Maybe if learners kept a portfolio of their outcomes, it would demonstrate skills learned to the wider public?


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