08 October 2012

Interdependent, Achievement-Based Learning

I like the bicycle metaphor.
After I named it, I really wanted to rework it to be a clever acronym. Almost like the word 'enable' (N-ABL).

Anyway, I'm having a hard time organizing it, so I'm going with the tried-and-true bulleted list:

  • Students are required to do a small amount of work in each unit in the class, but beyond that it's up to them. They choose how deeply to explore units, and credit comes with how much of it they complete.
  • To make this possible, all lectures, tutorials, and assignment descriptions are posted online (or in a binder) for students to access on demand and complete interdependently, meaning they can work together or alone to complete them.
  • Strict tutorials do very little to help students learn. The tutorial must be for the tool only, and then the assignment simply helps them practice the tool in a creative way.
  • Each assignment has stars associated with it. Some have very simple objectives, they're worth one star. Others are more complicated—worth two or three stars.
  • As you earn these stars, you level up in the class. This motivates students to complete more and more assignments. You can also level up within the units.
  • Earning stars unlocks more assignments, and occasionally prizes or game days.
  • In the ideal world, you would receive academic credit for only units which you complete. So rather than get a letter grade, you simply come out of it with a certain number of credits.
  • In the real world with letter grades, there will be a minimum number of stars to earn for the class, this determines half of your grade. The other half is determined by the student and teacher, who discuss how hard the student worked and what grade is deserved. Combine the two and you get an academic letter grade to post on a report card.
  • Hopefully the students don't care as much about their grade as they do about leveling up, and hopefully leveling up is an actual indicator of how much they've achieved in the class.
  • Fast learners can speed ahead to the tougher projects without being held back by slower classmates, and those slower classmates can fully comprehend topics before moving on. Both are successful.
  • Teachers are there to provide feedback and answer battlefield questions. Some students need no help and barely need the tutorial videos. Many students get help from neighbors (interdependence). A few students need a teacher to slowly guide them through until they grasp it.
  • The students become more and more independent as they push themselves and each other.
Basically, it pulls successful concepts from familiar apps and tries to turn students into into interdependent learners motivated by their own achievement rather than an academic grade. These are the behaviors that will prove successful in gaining skills on their own.

It's N-ABL-ing (iNterdependent Achievement-Based Learning) them to be successful in the future.


  1. Give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something.
  2. Make Possible.
Synonym: empower

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