So, I started watching Week I of The Online Educator course on FutureLearn run by the Open University with some very interesting articles by Audrey Watters and an interview with Rebecca Ferguson about second life and how it was used in education (so far so good) and then suddenly at some point the course required that we made a generic profile (?) of a student following a MOOC (personas: fictional yet realistic descriptions of a potential learner/ not intended to be a ‘typical’ student, but rather a non-typical student with particular characteristics that might exclude them from learning).
I know how analytical the English can be, but really? Who cares who the participant is (educational past, interests, competencies)? He/She can be anyone and will keep on following the course as long as there is something he/she can gain out of being in it. If we are looking in ways to understand the learners I don’t think this is going to come out of profiling them in abstract ways. Anyone can be in a course just as long as he/she desires to be. Assigning generic characteristics to participants isn’t going to resolve the chaotic character of learning and is somehow underestimating learners’ ability to come up with their own ways of being in a course.
New course has been launched by Open University and Futurelearn entitled “The Online Educator”. Course is led by Leigh-Anne Perryman and Martin Weller, will last 4 weeks and will be available for free until July 2.
The project entitled “My Story” is an initiative of the Anadolu University Open Education Faculty programs. Participating students were asked to share their stories leading to open and distance learning (ODL) via an online survey. A book was later edited sharing some of these stories publicly. Of the 70 stories that are included in the book, 16 of them express the voices of women and their struggle for education. Aras Bozkurt, Suzan Koseoglu, & Jeffrey M Keefer:
recognized that the voices of the participants were of such strength that they warranted a more performative explication in keeping with their power and form once they were translated to English (…) The words of the participants were poetically presented to both exemplify the thematic findings while remaining true to the power in the texts themselves
The poem they devised describes the women’s effort to persevere in a patriarchal society and their desire to get an education and succeed in life. This is a very interesting experiment, one that develops somewhere in between science and art. In the context of a continuous poetic narrative, the words pertain their meaning and are bound together in a consistent whole. Very moving indeed.
View Their Teaching As A Science And An Art: methodologies change, they are not inflexible
Are Students of their Students: effective educators go deeper, they know their students on a personal level
Challenge All Students: the brain is malleable and hungers for challenge. Evidence shows that students, even those that may be struggling, rise to the occasion when challenged
Believe In The Success Of All Students, No Matter What: “A school staff that believes it can collectively accomplish great things is vital for the health of a school and if they believe they can make a positive difference then they very likely will” (Hatie)
Continuously Seeking Out Professional Learning: they are continuously seeking out professional learning. to improve all aspects of their practice
Feedback Is A Part Of Their Routine: they also look inward at their own practices, thinking about where they are in their teaching and where they want to improve
I don’t know if it’s just these six , or six of the many, but I agree with all of them in principal. As far as the second principle is concerned (becoming the student of the student) for me it doesn’t necessarily mean getting to know your students in depth, but more of being open to change because of them. i think tutors are constantly challenged by their students and therefore they too can revise the way they perceive their knowledge domain or their reality.
In 2015, Grosz designed a new course called “Intelligent Systems: Design and Ethical Challenges that combined technical content with a series of real-life ethical conundrums and the relevant philosophical theories necessary to evaluate them.
Embedding ethics across the curriculum helps computer science students see how ethical issues can arise from many contexts, issues ranging from the way social networks facilitate the spread of false information to censorship to machine-learning techniques that empower statistical inferences in employment and in the criminal justice system.
Sometimes, when we talk about learner independence, active learning or agency, we forget that this is not always for granted. Student consensus can not be considered a given. Trying out new things in a course (changing formats, layouts or mediums) produces changes that can be met with resistance and suspicion and it usually takes time until the cohort is convinced that what you are doing is actually working for them.
Student-Centered Learning and Student Buy-In article in Inside Higher Ed shows the results of curriculum change in a Biology course over a period of four years in relation to student satisfaction and acceptance. Pre- and post- course surveys show that student resistance decreased over the years and while grades did not change, the students’ perception of their gains has.
I remember that when we first introduced networked practices in an undergraduate design studio, students were terrified of the idea that their preliminary research and drawings would be published online for everyone to see. When talking about this, some expressed the fear that their ideas would loose their originality or that by the end of the semester everyone would converge to a single design idea/concept. Of course, none of this happened: in fact, it was quite revealing to see how diverse the research approaches and their respective representations actually were from a very early stage in the design process.
But there is also another interesting aspect in this article: the very fact that there was no single teacher but 13 of them. Now, I think this severely enhances the idea of a learning community. It’s not just about changing the format, it is about how you do it. By opening up the curriculum to more researchers and more teachers and by presenting the students with a course that is founded on a collaborative effort you ultimately denounce the idea of the expert and what comes along with that. And it is not by chance that grades have nothing to do with this. The very act of learning and being part of a learning community luckily can never fall into the hands of assessment.
The influence of a non-dialectical reading of Marx under conditions of patriarchy and racism continues to produce substantial errors in scholarship, including: the inability to understand class and labour power as relations and processes; a causal and deterministic articulation of consciousness and praxis as external relations; culturalist and identity-based approaches to ‘difference’ that cannot illuminate inter-constitutive social relations; confusion over the relationality between colonialism, fundamentalisms, imperialism and neoliberalism within capitalism; and the continued marginalization of feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial scholarship within the academy (…) we also contend that critical education theory cannot commit itself to, nor move forward with, a revolutionary project without profound attention to the social relations of difference – that is, gender, race, ability, sexuality – and the exploration of these as inter-constitutive relations both with and within capitalism and its expansion through colonialism and imperialism
Cormier uses three paradigms of different approaches to learning; the first refers to Apollonius of Rhodes who taught Cicero and Juliuns Ceasar, the second regards the practices of the University of Toulouse in 1270 and finally, the third describes Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s efforts to train Swiss people how to read around 1800. In the first case, knowledge is created through attentive interaction; Cicero and Caesar -both of them Apollonius disciples- had to learn how to perform public speeches by practicing patience while trying out different arguments (one to one learning). In 1270 Toulouse, learning was perceived as “hearing” as University students were offered access not to books (as printing was not yet invented) but to listening the books’ content (upscaled catechetical approach where success is to repeat). In the case of Pestalozzi, mass scale education was possible through the textbook (trade of freedom to scale).
Cormier raises his eyebrow to the textbook approach:
Teaching in a graded environment is a true position of power. You get to decide, as a teacher, what someone needs to know and whether or not that person knows it. You get to set the measures of success (…) Who am I to be in a position to decide what someone else should know? What gave me the right to exercise the power that I had over my students? (…) My own academic path and that of my peers had already shown me that learners are not an homogenous group; did the literature really expect me to accept that a one size fits all approach would be successful? How could I know what a student needed to know before I met them? Was there some canon of knowledge that I could simply go to and pick the right topics off a shelf that would be applicable to everyone? How could I decide, ahead of time, what success was going to look like for a student?
while advocating for a rhizomatic approach where:
(…) My job as a teacher is to create smooth space. To create an uncertain space where students have a chance to be ready to create their own map. To build an ecology within which students can grow, wander, break off and reconnect. A place where they can access the voices of the past and present and use them to learn. If my students can learn when they are uncertain, they’ll be prepared to answer questions that I cannot. And, even better, ask questions that I might not think to ask. (emphasis is mine)
(…) Education, which must be revolutionized in the new world, will be revolutionized by the very agency that requires the revolution — the computer. Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn,in his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own way.Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without.
Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:
Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.
Our work, the writers say, has wondered at the extent to which Critical Pedagogy translates into digital space.
In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:
centers its practice on community and collaboration;
must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to re-imagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.
Preface by Audrey Watters. Book available for online reading here
H. Chang: Stakeholder workshops as a pedagogy for experiential learning in collaborative planning education: An action research at the Department of Urban Planning, NCKU, Taiwan (photo credits: me)
This was perhaps one of the most interesting conferences I have ever attended. I followed the track of education since day 01 and I was amazed by the high levels of participation and engagement until the end. I met a lot of interesting people and I am very pleased to have worked with them, shared my thoughts with them and discussed with them on the future of urban planning education.
I was very excited to have been able to gain some relevance compared to what we have been doing, especially on transdisciplinary learning. The Round table on Friday was a great experience for me. I think that all of us present agreed on being advocates of collaborative practices, social inclusion and cultural empathy as basic prerequisites for co-creation in urban planning and planning education.
Round table brainstorming on the competencies of the future urban planners (photo credits: R. Rocco)