The Individual Learning Project was something that I had never experienced before. There have been no other college (or high school) classes that I have taken in which the professor asked me to spend time each week learning something simply because I wanted to learn it. After some thought, I decided to take on baking and the adventures of cookie and cake decorating, and all things in between. While this was not directly related to the course material of digital literacy, I really felt that this would be something I could look forward to each week without it feeling like a stressful homework assignment, as well as a skill that I could continue to use and build upon throughout my lifetime.
As I took the first steps of my ILP journey, I began to lay out what I thought I would like to learn and a tentative outline of the semester’s schedule. One of the first things that I learned, was that sometimes, you cannot always stick to the initial plan. While weeks passed by, there were times that life just happened, and I had to make adjustments to my weekly plans, but I learned that this was alright. Even though some things changed and not every project turned out as perfect as it looked in the picture on Pinterest, it was all a part of the learning process.
I also discovered that while I am by no means a master baker, making sweet treats and decorating them with my hands is something that I enjoy quite a bit. Being able to work with something physical in front of me and put my own artistic spin on things made seeing the final products even more rewarding.
Since baking (and eating:)) is something that interests me, it was not hard to find motivation to learn as a part of my ILP. The only times I was challenged to get my ILP learning in was when my schedule got tight and I had to get creative with my time. Other than this, I thoroughly enjoyed my time learning the art of baking and cake decorating.
I would have to say that my favorite part of this experience was getting to try all of the tasty treats after I made them and then share them with friends, family, teammates, coaches, and work colleagues. I almost always made way more than my roommate and I could eat on our own, so sharing was an absolute must. It was fun to take pictures and share my experiences with classmates via my blog as well.
After my experience with independent learning, I know that I would love to incorporate it into my future classroom. While it may not be to quite this scale at the elementary level, I believe that giving students an end goal and then presenting them with several different avenues for getting there can be a very effective teaching strategy. We all know that when the content of the material we are learning is tailored to our own unique interests, we are much more likely to stay engaged and retain what is being learned. Students are no different, so I believe independent learning is something worth trying.