Documenting Learning Types and Purposes

Documenting involves more than supporting learning by providing visible evidence. It requires accessing and reflecting on one’s own learning processes and articulating what is taking place throughout a learning journey. Purposeful and meaningful documentation artifacts play a critical role in conveying one’s thinking and learning, and inform students and teachers about what needs to be in focus now and for next steps, whether coaching, mentoring, or providing direct instruction.

There are three documenting learning types:

  • Documenting OF Learning
  • Documenting FOR Learning
  • Documenting AS Learning

Documenting OF Learning is an often-used form of documentation. Unfortunately, it does not require reflective, metacognitive practices concerning how one’s learning was or is taking place. Learners often record for a “snapshot” purpose to show others what was learned, without interpreting and reflecting on what was captured.

It is imperative that teachers and students move beyond simply displaying learning. While documenting OF learning is a valid place to begin, moving to documenting FOR learning makes learning truly visible and leads to an awareness of the components involved in one’s learning processes, fostering growth in understanding how one’s learning is taking place.

Documenting AS Learning adds a subtle, yet powerful, layer of metacognition that engages learners in determining how to best capture the learning process in preparation for purposefully reflecting on, sharing, and amplifying new or expanded thoughts or ideas with a worldwide community of learners.

Implementing FOR and AS documenting types and purposes positively affect how teachers see their students (and themselves) as engaged learners. It naturally fosters and creates historic growth-timelines for students, and professionally for teachers and administrators. While some see documentation solely as an assessment practice, documenting learning serves purposes beyond assessment. The overarching purpose for documenting learning, especially documenting FOR and AS learning, is to allow learners to fully participate in their own learning process, whether a student or adult learner, that affords him or her to engage in and beyond classroom walls and connect with others who embrace lifelong learning and engaging with those who believe the same.

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