Thursday, 8 December 2016

Empathize Local and Global Needs | #CBL Collaboration Lens

My Science 9 students are well on their way with their Connections-based Learning to help the bateyes of the Dominican Republic with the problem of light poverty.  I shared how this CBL came to be in Doing Something Beyond Ourselves.  At that point, I had a few ideas on where I wanted to take my students, but it was all speculation.

Now the students have been unleashed.  Connections do that.  They catch students right where heads meet hearts. They reveal a compassion that might hide dormant without prompting.  Connections fan the flames of empathy and lead to action.  Learning becomes a necessity, not an assignment.

We had two amazing Skype chats focused on light poverty.  You can find a taste of these chats on these student posts:

The Connections-based learning Collaboration Lens helps educators steward the connection.  It is one thing to make an amazing connection with the community, an expert, an organization or another group of students.  It is quite another to maximize it for learning.

I want to share how we used the CBL Collaboration lens to take us from connection into response.  It starts with the Design focus and specifically Empathizing local and global needs.

Empathize local and global needs

Seconds after our Skype chat was over with Eladio, Dennis and the students from the Dominican Republic, we were talking needs. Now the needs might be a little more obvious when we are talking about the people living as sugar cane workers in the Dominican Republic.  There might be one or two hours of electricity a day.  There might be none.  And if electricity is available, it is during the day.  Light at night is a real issue and affects both learning and safety.  It was hard to hear about people dying in fires as a result of candle and kerosene lamp use at night from Dennis during our Dominican Republic Skype chat.

But empathizing needs looked vastly different for the SSEP CBL my students did.  In that case, our experiments would never get on the Space X rocket if they didn't address a need.  The need gives meaning to the action.  It gives meaning to the making.  The need has to be there. Without it, why bother.

My students went through a whole CBL process as they designed their Engineering Brightness learning experience. The first thing was to reflect on the connection, ponder the needs they discovered, and develop the learning goals they have for themselves.  Here are some student samples:

With students discovering needs through the connection, the next step is to Co-construct Learning Goals.  I will continue to share as this CBL develops.  Look for the next post: Co-construct Learning Goals | #CBL Collaboration Lens.

Consider partnering with us as we fight light poverty in the Dominican Republic.