Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.
(G. Siemens, 2004)
While planning for our current G 3 UoI “Decisions” I thought about these words of George Siemens. In the process of pondering how the theory of connectivism can facilitate our teaching during this unit (given that decision making is a key learning process in connectivism), I decided that one of the main goals of this unit will be to develop the ability of our students to critically examine situations and new data and make intelligent decisions at their level.
Our central idea is “The decisions we make together impact how we cooperate and organize ourselves”. With this in mind, I created a sorting out collaborative learning activity for my students.
First we talked about our right and ability to make decision and discussed the situations when our decisions were different from other people’s. Here is a video that I found very helpful.
Next we started talking about universal moral values and how our good or our poor decisions affect others. How we can become part of a great team or loose all our friends because of our choice of actions. I used a story “Jamaica’s Find” to provoke a discussion on decisions and consequences.
During our next class I offered my students the sorting out activity mentioned above. All my students worked in groups of 3 (mixed ability). I wrote the 8 steps of the decision-making process on cards and gave them a couple of blank cards (in case some of my high-flyers wanted to add their own steps), mixed up all the cards and asked the students to sequence them from first to last.
Finally the most interesting part of the activity began: the presentations. I did not assign the roles and they all chose the presenters without my guidance. It was very insightful to observe the group collaboration and dynamics. Each group had to present their order of steps of the decision -making process considering the diversity of opinions and maintaining connections and cultivating new ones (two other main principles of connectivism). Needless to say they all did it at their age group level, however, it was obvious that some students were ahead of others and enjoyed exploring the decision making steps, while others were passive and expected to follow the suggested option.
This activity highlighted the needs of my students. Those children who did not have any thinking experience in decision-making and probably got used to just doing what they were told immediately stood out. Hopefully these students will begin to realize that that it is an important life skill to be able to change roles in academic and social environments, and often challenging yourself serves you better than playing safe.