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What if my student wants to learn ____?

If our overt academic goal is to create and publish evidence of successful student-directed learning, we’re effectively defining flexible boundaries for student autonomy and introducing an element of what might be called academic entrepreneurship into the learning environment. We (teachers) are the equivalent of venture capitalists in this scenario and students are startup founders, seeking funding (approval) for their innovative ideas.

— from (re)Imagine

Industry representatives review, revise, and approve Digital Arts outlines and competencies in our annual Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Meetings. Over the years, I have proposed, and advisors have approved, numerous additions to these formal documents. Today, the scope of approved Digital Arts disciplines is virtually unlimited.

After demonstrating proficiency in core Mac Lab skill sets, any student may propose a personalized learning environment (PLE) that falls within the scope of our approved coursework. However, the student’s proposal must include a product. That is non-negotiable.

If a student says, I want to learn ____, I’ll reply, Why? What do you want to create? Envisioning an end product then devising a way to reach the goal leads to more productive learning strategies.

Creative freedom includes responsibility (and accountability). So if your student agrees to my terms and successfully pitches a PLE, they may forge a unique path in the Mac Lab.