Tonight- conversation with Alan November

Join me tonight, Monday, February 18th, for a live and interactive conversation with Alan November on his new book Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age. The book is a compelling argument for allowing students to take ownership of their learning, create their own learning tools and participate in meaningful work because, as Alan writes, “we are experiencing an essential change in the culture of teaching and learning.”

The book was wonderfully frustrating for me. In a cover-quoted review Michael Wesch writes, and I agree, that there “is nothing like a great question to send you on a rich and meaningful quest for learning. A great question forces us to challenge our most taken for granted beliefs and threatens to uproot our most deeply rooted habits.Who owns the learning? is one of those great questions.” At the same time, while Alan’s thesis and his terrific stories are such powerful arguments for self-directed learning and agency-driven education, he would sometimes so weaken these ideas that I would find myself having to re-read sentences in the book to make sure I’d read them correctly. He talks about “the link between student achievement and ownership of the learning experience,” but it turns out this is part of a description of students making Animoto videos. OK, yes, they “owned that,” but I was expecting more. Or then he describes bringing students to staff development meeting to help implement new technologies. Yes, of course, this is great, but it’s not students really owning their own learning.

I ask myself these same kinds of question when I hear people talk about “student voice” when what they mean is input into the existing system. That is participation, but it’s participation in a certain constrained way that I’m not sure it qualifies as self-direction or even moving in that direction. I really do like Alan’s “Digital Learning Farm” model described in the book, but while he claims that it represents a shift of control and that “the revolution has started,” I think more accurately it represents a partial shift of control, and I’m not sure that’s really a revolution. When he talks about purpose being “one of the most powerful motivators of high-quality work, ” he follows that up by describing “the jobs we can create for our students.”

These are quibbles, however, for a book that brings up peer and social learning and says things, in our day of test-driven accountability, like, “students want an equal voice in directing their own learning.” Yes, hurrah, let’s talk about this! I hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a terrific conversation.

See you online!


Steve Hargadon

Date: Monday, February 18th, 2013
Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). Log in at The Blackboard Collaborate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the support and configuration page.
Recording: A full Blackboard Collaborate recording and an audio mp3 recording will be available after the show here and at
Mightybell: A Mightybell space with interview resources and conversation is at