The learner profile and its attributes are ideals and realities; they are noun and verbs; they are seed and promise. Many times, the learner profile is underestimated as, some say, it romanticizes the learning process. Nonetheless, as a former video game lover, as a thriller lover, and an avid reader, I prefer to look at it as a map.
In a video game, each level demands players to operate with a certain mindset, to employ specific approaches to winning, to devise a variety of strategies in order to survive and succeed. Thus, as described in the examples in my post entitled Gamified Readings, each of the attributes of the learner profile can be regarded as toolbox with specific tools that can allow us to overcome situations and surpass challenges. From beginning to end, a video game is a map whose paths are navigated by players who wear different masks, and hats and armors, and such is the path of learning as well.
Those of us with a passion for traveling might rely on the maps in the lonely planet, googlemaps, or the exquisiteness in the instincts of the maps in our hearts’ wit. From planning a trip, to living the experiences in it, and bringing it to a conclusion, traveling requires us to play a variety of roles, to speak with different voices and to be open to differences circumstances, depending on where we are in our journey; in other words, to show different attributes.
Life is filled with cycles, and it is also filled with maps. Our journeys, always full of expectation, realities, and surprises, will require us to be able to find connections between different points; to trace trajectories between one destination and another; to look at experiences through different lenses in order to capture the best movements; to be open to different tastes and ways of seeing life; and to become designers of information when the time to talk about of experiences arrives.
Aren’t we, therefore, displaying different aspects of the learning profile at all times in all these games and trips? There is nothing romantic about the learner profile. Instead, it is rather a generous reminder of how we need to act in life to be forever learners and to be permanently happy.
I like to use the learner profile attributes as terms that spark attitude and ways of doing, thinking and asking- I don’t want students to recite why they acted as inquirers or effective communicators, but to experience what it’s like to think, speak and act as such. As a class we have even gone as far as brainstorming on a list of questions that we can ask when we are inquiring as any of the attributes of the learning profile, and we use them as examples of what and how we can ask questions. We have used attributes of the learner profile to design our rubrics, making sure that the descriptors we include reflect degrees of challenge and depth that we would need to fulfill in order to evaluate to what extent we are representing the attribute we chose to focus on.
As a teacher the learner profile has always helped me to select and curate resources, for certain stimuli will trigger the use of specific attributes and will encourage learners to wear the hats and choose the tools and weapons they must in order to be the learner and doer that is required. Moreover, considering my constant desire to act and feel like a learning designer, I like the challenge the learner profile sets on me as I try to balance my approaches to teaching: many times I am forced to inquire deeper into the kind of tools I must provide students; some other times I have to reflect on what is not working in my class in order to devise improved solutions; and most importantly I am always reminded of the need to stay informed, as no bigger challenge do teachers of the present have but to stay relevant for students and engaged with the times they are living in.
Learning is not a journey that is traveled over a one-way road; it’s rather a multilateral, winding, cyclic, and multilayered odyssey that causes us to use of senses and experiences to appreciate and reconstruct the information the world. With our eyes we see the path we have to walk and then we devise ways to
If we reflect on our journey, we will identify moments when we have been knowledgeable; when we have been outstanding communicators. The learner profile offers us an opportunity to map our skills and experiences, to see how our strengths are categorized, to become aware of tools we have created, used, improved and are, possibly, imagining now.
Take a deep breath for a moment. Reflect on your teaching-learning journey, and think about concrete processes you underwent and/or tools you employed as you represented one or many attributes of the learner profile, turn it in to an instrument that can introduce in your classes to enhance the learning experience, and then you will see how this simple practice will take you to point B, and so on. Doesn’t this happen when we travel?
The map below is one of the many maps of the attributes of the Learner Profile in me…. This is one of many maps, because experiences are also differentiated.