Our class – our Cave
This week we explored the value of taking control of our own learning – arguing that it is impossible to become a good educationalist if you cannot also become an engaged and active learner or student. Of course when you start a degree the module or course names might mean very little – we have no idea what the course it about – let alone what it might offer us – or what we might actually want from it. First of all we just want to survive – survive the strange new buildings and people – the new demands – and the blind confusion and panic involved in being a student… BUT – at some point it is useful to stop – think – and start again more slowly!
The hermeneutic space
Firstly we reflected on five things that we actively want from Becoming – how we’ll know when we’ve got them… and what we feel about the module now – and YES – this will help you with the end of course ESSAY!!
So – what did people actually want from Becoming?
As well as research skills, people wanted to become more creative and to engage in different sorts of learning activities; to be pushed into engaging positively – especially with things outside current comfort zones – for example to get more confidence online. People wanted a good teaching experience – to be part of dialogic practice and to grow in confidence. Some wanted to experience different ways of designing lessons, learning and teaching – to experience and to learn about different sorts of engaging tasks and practices. Still others wanted to develop their critical and analytical thinking – especially with respect to the reading – and in the process learn and become more comfortable with the different terminologies and academic language. People wanted more confidence in giving presentations – and to build their confidence and social capital in general. Some saw Becoming as a journey – to their learning – to their career: “becoming what I’m meant to be.”
After voicing our own hopes and expectations – we compared these to the 14 principles for improving higher learning: Angelo: A “Teacher’s Dozen”: Fourteen General, Research-Based Principles for Improving Higher Learning in Our Classrooms:
http://www.csuchico.edu/~lsederberg/ceeoc/teachers_dozen.pdf – actively discussing the first few in class: active learning is essential; we need to focus – be aware of what is important in the subject; learners must have their own goals (explicit, reasonable, positive) – and it helps if these are congruent with the teacher’s goals; we remember by connecting new learning to old schema; we may need to unlearn what we already know – and this is difficult; and – as the notemakers know already – personally and meaningfully organised information is retained.
Tip: Reflect on the 14 principles: how far are students themselves in control of these – how far are they down to teaching practice? How far might they help you to become a more successful educationalist? How far will they help you with the Becoming essay?
Getting jiggy with the MLE/VLE
Yup – we are all digital residents now – and much of the digi in university is delivered through its Managed or Virtual Learning Environment (MLE/VLE) – so the next class investigation asked: How would YOU design a VLE?
In LondonMet we used BlackBoard’s WebLearn – and if you really wanted to get serious with taking control of your own teaching right now – you could access this free version of BB – and design your own VLE: https://www.coursesites.com/webapps/Bb-sites-course-creation-BBLEARN/pages/index.html Things to think about:
Who are our students? Young/old? So what? Academic capital or not? So what? TIME or not? So what? Digital visitor or resident? So what?
Why WebLearn: What’s it really for? Who is it really for? What could or should it do? What would you really like to see in there? What about the Social Media?
Interestingly, CourseSites offers different pedagogic models – to help you think about and structure your online space:
Activity: hands-on, fieldwork, PBL – with conversations and live chat
Case Study: develops knowledge through cases – enabling brainstorming, blogging and the application of theory.
Conference session: allowing collaboration in a web environment.
Constructivism: facilitating the construction of learning – with groups, sharing, knowledge-base and reflection.
Expedition-based: active/exploratory – with base camp, storytelling and My Trip Journal.
Experiential: knowledge created through concrete experiences – hands-on plus reflection. Round table, our blogs and my reactions.
Question: Do any of these inspire you? Could any of these be used productively in F2F teaching as well as on line?
And finally – a bit of Critical Pedagogy
When thinking about designing learning and teaching it is useful not just to reproduce what we already know – but to think differently about who and what education is for – or what it could or should be for; to think about social justice or ethics or humane ways of behaving – factors not always present in traditional schooling! So here are some tips from Critical Pedagogy – things to think about when DESIGNING your own teaching – and perhaps to use when EVALUATING the learning and teaching that you experience:
Content is … a proposal… to inspect, laugh about, jump off from.
Narrative structure: All courses are compositions, and as such they should tell a story…The course should begin one place and end someplace decidedly elsewhere…
Open-ended questions: Yes or no questions are for computers, not people…
Actual work, no busy: Activity in a course should never be empty … Learning isn’t an act of recall…
No assessments: … A course should be challenging enough that just getting through it is an accomplishment (and compelling enough that learners want to get to the end of the story).
Business casual: … use contractions or ellipses or emoticons or ironic parentheticals or risky language (or run-on sentences)… Perfect grammar shakes no one’s hand, gives no hugs.
Also Mayer on Principles of designing multimedia learning:
Tip: Start thinking about all this in relation to your Becoming essay!!