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Note: "LO" = learning organization.      -Carl
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Somehow it has always impressed me as strange that, unlike
the recipients of most services, the student is one of the
few recipients who is 'graded' by the deliverer of that
service on the quality of the reciept of service.  A car
buyer would find it absurd to have the dealer grade the
quality of his or her purchase.  It seems to me that the
role of the student is changing.  I am not sure that
educational institutions exist for the purpose of grading
and sorting the performance of students in order to allocate
future opportunities.  It seems to me that educational
institutions are being asked to provide learning experiences
in order that the student's performance be enhanced.  If so,
then the role of the student has changed.  The focus shifts
from what the student can do to what the organization can
do--with the student as an integral part of that community.
 
While this shift makes little difference in a LO, it
requires an enormous shift in the organizational climate and
culture of our educational institutions.  The traditional
hierarchical organization is simply unable to respond to
this change with the speed and efficiency required.  A
decentralized organization of student focused teams of
learning professionals would seem better equipped.  These
teams would likely embrace the principles of the LO.
 
I consider students, like customers in industry, to be an
integral part of an organization's learning community.
Students and customers are part of the greater
organizational "system".  What impacts and influences a
student's life necessarily impacts or influences the
learning experience and the educational institution would
need to respond to that impact in order to serve the
student.  While this may seem easy to imagine in theory, it
seems a bit overwhelming to imagine putting it into
practice--especially in today's educational institutions.
Nonetheless, as I learn more about the needs of today's
world and how that impacts my students, I find myself
thinking about them as an integral part of a LO called a
college.
 
As such, students are a member of our team and should be
involved in determining "what" it is we should be
accomplishing and "how" we should be going about
accomplishing it.  For my own part, that means including
them in determining what we will be learning in class and
how we will learn it.  In my classes, I have started to take
the first few weeks to plan the syllabus with my students in
a team process using various quality tools.  Part of the
students' work includes interviewing people that hold jobs
they desire and asking these people what they think a
student should be learning in my class. I have found that
the content of the course syllabi does not vary that much
using this joint planning process.  However, the student
involvement adds a great deal of depth and relevance letting
me learn from them.
 
Cherie Gracie
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