Learner Agency 2017

Amazingly, learner agency has become all the rage! Who would have thought that Dr Rod Fawns would have picked it all those years ago! My aim with this post is to try and distill the concept.

Firstly – and ever as usual, it is about the definitions. This is an age of everyone trying to jump on the same page and share a common language about what ever it is we are talking about.  The concepts of ‘learner’ and ‘agency’ are so broad that they are at risk of being sucked into the vacuous space that is ‘eduspeak’.

So I’m going to jump straight in.

Agency is the power to make rules and allocate resources. Learner agency is the enactment of personal agency which affords learning.

Schools exist to afford learner agency. Schools are social / ecological sites with embedded affordances. An affordance may only become a vehicle for the expression of agency once that agent identifies the potential in the artefact to act as an affordance. Conversely an agent will only recognize the potential of an affordance through interaction with it in her or his learning ecology.

Thus, learners need to be ‘positioned’ in their learning ecology such that they experience various artefacts affording them a co constructive development of their agentive status.

Therefore in looking at Learner Agency, we need to discuss ‘Structures’ ‘Agents’ and ‘Artifacts’. In the process – we need to explore the other forms of agency that exist in schools and how they conspire to enable or inhibit learner agency.

So after all that babble – the working theory for me is this: What power to make rules and allocate resources do our learners have? What are the structures in place to allow this to happen and what physical things do we use as the vehicle for expressing learning agency.

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