During the synthesis of the class discussion about our blog subject matter, the notion of student-centered learning came up. I believe that the restructuring of the class/grade/age structure could benefit from this type of approach.
In Student-centered learning, Students take a more active role in their learning by shifting the responsibilities of organizing, analyzing, and synthesizing content from the teacher to the learner (Means, 1994). If we seek to create an online learning environment that frees students from the confines of the traditional grade-by-age structures, a student-centered approach could be beieficial.
In this approach, students could work independently on projects, lessons (etc) that are important to them. They have a say in now only what they learn, but how they learn and have a hand in shaping how their learning will change in the future. Online technology can definitely help students to explore new concepts and spark interest in topics that they are keenly interested in. Through this approach, students will be more engaged and want to learn on their own and with their fellow students.
In a classroom of this type, students can learn from each-other. Students that have mastered material can help students who are working at earlier levels can become the expert, helping novice students to understand concepts. As well, with the use of technology, students working at the same level can collaborate, not only in the classroom itself, but also outside the traditional classroom walls.
Source: Means, B. 1994. Technology and Education Reform: The Reality Behind the Promise. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.