Student-Centred Learning

A Brief History of Student-Centred Learning

Student-centred learning is not a new phenomenon. John Dewey outlined many educational theories including the importance of how ‘students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning’, in 1897. Project-based learning, Problem-based learning and more recently the apple launched Challenge-based learning all discuss the importance of student-centred learning, and inquiry being central to the learning process. What all of these learning styles have in common in today’s classrooms are that they naturally lend themselves to integrating technology. If the technology is available, and students know how to use it, it should be a part of the learning process.

My current conundrum is ‘If I want a student-centred, inquiry classroom, should my students should have access to technology all of the time?’

My Concerns

How much screen access is okay? Should ten year old students have access to iPads all day? I decided to find out what students and teachers thought. I used a great idea from @traintheteacher. A binary question for all students to answer as they arrive at school.

    I also tweeted a poll for teachers’ viewpoints:

An Experimental Inquiry

Our central idea

After discussing these issues in class we decided to try an experiment. A full day with unlimited technology, and a full day unplugged completely.

Below are some student reflections from our ‘Tech Saturation Day’.

Students were also asked to write a Headline (maximum of ten words) to sum up the unplugged day. Below are some examples:

Teacher Reflections

  • Beginner EAL students were able to work independently. They produced more work than they ever have before.
  • Some students were easily distracted with the iPad. They did however still complete all of their assignments.
  • Working on paper is time consuming. Ten minute tasks took at least four times that.
  • Students enjoyed drawing and paper-craft.
  • Our replicate social media account is the students favourite past-time.
  • Marking and photocopying work is very time consuming. This took up approximately two hours of my day (compared to minutes using google apps).


I will still have some parts of our school day tech free but will monitor for which learning engagements this is an advantage. I’m interested in hearing how other teachers manage the availability of technology in a student-centred inquiry classroom. Is it time to let the student’s decide?

2 thoughts on “Student-Centred Learning

  1. Pana Asavavatana

    Hi Amanda,

    I love how you conducted research with the binary questions asking students what they thought. Even better than that, you tested both scenarios with the students and had them reflect on the experiences. This data not only helped you analyze how technology has helped your classroom and teaching, but it helped the students to understand the pros and cons of each.

    Now with students having better understanding of how they work with each medium, when it is most effective for them and when it is not as effective, could you put a quick self-reflection tool in place so students can assess their own productivity? This way you can allow students to have more choice into whether they do their work with technology or unplugged. As a teacher, think about when you want your students to have this choice, all the time? Some of the time? If just sometimes, which parts of the day do you think this choice would be most beneficial.

    Some interesting ideas you’ve put out there! 😉


    1. Amanda McCloskey Post author

      Hi Pana,
      Thanks for your comments. A quick self-reflection tool is a great idea. I’m wondering if the students can create a check list with the criteria for when technology is beneficial. They may then be able to judge for themselves when it is required in a learning engagement. It can be hard to let go of control as a teacher but my student’s have really impressed me with this task. Time for them to have more control!

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