Who Owns the Learning: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age by Alan November

By Burgess, Khalid | Journal of Thought, Spring-Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

Who Owns the Learning: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age by Alan November


Burgess, Khalid, Journal of Thought


Who Owns the Learning: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age is a teacher's journey and revelation of how technology can be used to enable students to take charge of their learning. It provides real life examples which are effective, relevant, and, most of all, tested and proven. The author, Alan November, is a retired oceanography teacher who taught in Boston. He was also a computer coordinator, technology consultant, and a cofounder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology.

The book is refreshing, enlightening, and it is a gem for all teachers, administrators, and lovers of education and technology. The case studies and examples that are provided throughout the book include websites, QR codes, and many other resources for the reader to research to see the truth behind the studies. The examples provided in the book are relevant, applicable to all students, and do not call for the use of numerous resources.

The book begins with November, in the role of a director of an alternate high school, being summoned to deal with Gary, a student who broke into the school. After confronting the student and finding out the reason behind his action, November discovers that Gary broke in the computer lab to finish writing his computer program. Amazed and shocked, November sits down with the student and discusses his motivation, drive, and boldness to commit such an act. November, although not pleased with Gary's actions, is intrigued by him and does not punish him; he is more interested in Gary's fervor for technology. What's even more puzzling is that summer vacation had commenced and this student, Gary, is one who has poor grades and an awful attendance record. After speaking with Gary about his passion for computers, November becomes intrigued by the power of student motivation and the impact of technology on learning. It leads him to creating a computer class that focuses on problem-solving. November (2012) believes "that given the right opportunity, tools, and teacher guidance, students want an equal voice in directing their own learning" (p.7). November supports his belief by presenting case studies in which teachers have used technology to make students take control of their learning. He calls it the "Digital Learning Farm."

In the first example provided, the book takes the reader to Santa Monica, California, where middle school math teacher Eric Marcos and his students create mathematics tutorials and make podcasts. The students are dedicated and motivated. They are so committed that once when a student's parent came to pick her up, she told her mother to come back later because she was not finished making the podcast. …

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