From Student-Centered to Student Agency [...]

Student-centered has become a bit of a catch-all, and has now descended into marketing blather. A more provocative idea is to focus on the element of student-centered that deals with student agency. When we do that, we begin to bump into some contradictions at the centers of our institutions.

Gardner discusses agency in the perspective of Milton’s License and Liberty. Liberty is freedom in the context of social obligation, as opposed to the less socially aware license, the absence of obligation. And it’s this notion of liberty that is at the core of the liberal arts.


A prime exmaple of this would be the Personal API, where student are in control of their own data.

Does the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment embrace student agency or ignore it?

Does the Templated Self aid in agency or reduce it?

When we give people agency, they often prefer the familiar even when the unfamiliar might make them happier. See The Recommender’s Paradox

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