Student resistance to curriculum changes

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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.

Critical Pedagogy, new book by Sean Michael Morris & Jesse Stommel

URGENCY OF TEACHERS

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

The “Learning” Space

LEARNING SPACE

  • (…) any space became a learning space because of the social practices being performed, informed by a variety of cultural norms and expectations, in fact it was made of these two [Harrison, 2018]
  • it is not a container in which the world proceeds, but it is a co-product of these proceedings [Thrift, 2003]
  • dynamic relationship between social norms, how material and social structures influence these norms and how they are then embodied by individuals/ it is a set of relations between individuals [Kuntz & Berger, 2011]
  • space is constructed through orderings or operations of objects and social relations (regional: where object/relations are clustered within boundaries, network: where the distances between elements and relations account for difference and fluid: where boundaries allow for leaking or transformation) [Mol & Law, 1994]
  • material space such as the design and use of classroom is not the equivalent of place and not the object, background or container of study, it is instead, a dynamic multiplicity that is constantly being produced by simultaneous practice-so-far and is enacted, turbulent, entangled and hybrid [Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuk, 2011]
  • they are not merely material spaces but also conceived spaces [Lefebvre, 1991; Soja, 1989]
  • space dependent on software-driven technologies is identified as a code/space where software and the spatiality of everyday life become mutually constituted, produced through one another [Kitchin & Dodge, 2011]
  • web-based spaces are not containers in which online learning activities take place but rather fluid sociomaterial assemblages that take on particularities as people and things -both online and offline- negotiate how they move, mix and mobilize in their correspondences [Thompson, 2014]
  • virtual learning environments not only are places where social and cultural production processes occur, they are also bound by preexisting conventional systems that are defined by HE cultural processes and norms [Goodfellow & Hewling, 2005]
  • LMSs/ VLEs often reflect institutional, hierarchical perspective
  • when working online we work in destabilized classrooms engaging in spaces and practices which are disquieting, disorienting, strange, anxiety-inducing, uncanny [Bayne, 2010]
  • online environments can also be walled, hierarchical and traditional as F2F classrooms and they can also be “wild and open” where social technologies are hailed as “interactive. connected, free, easily accessed and accessible, enabled to create dynamic and nuanced communities of learners/ but binary versions of learning spaces allow us to avoid examining the complex relationships between learning and the spaces it takes place [McRae, 2014]

 

References

Michelle Harrison, 2018. Space as a tool for analysis: Examining digital learning spaces. In Open Praxis, vol. 10 issue 1, January–March 2018, pp. 17–28 (ISSN 2304-070X)

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Digital Citizenship through Hybrid Education

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Citizenship

  • Marshal/1950: Citizen is bestowed on those who are full members of a community-Educations as a social right/ Right of the adult citizen to have been educated instead of the right of the child to go to school.
  • Banks/2008: Citizen should be expanded to include cultural democracy and cultural citizenship as all liberal democracies are multi ethnic or multinational.
  • Mossberger et al./2008: Citizen defines as representing capacity, belonging, and the potential for political and economic engagement in society in the information age

Becoming and Belonging and the Capabilities to do so.

  • Capabilities to do so_McGillivray et al/2016: pedagogies need to be aligned with technologies to prepare both students and teachers to deal with the opportunities and threats of a digitally mediated world (…) Kymlicka/ 2002: Education for digital citizenship is not simply a matter of information, knowledge and know-how but it is also a matter of interpersonal and inherently ethical relations (…) Sen/1976: shift from mere technologies to what they enable people to do.
  • Becoming_Arendt/1958: the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew, human condition is connected to labor, work and action. With action in plurality we become a someone. Education is when we decide we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it.
  • Belonging_Bauman/1997: Inclusion as difference. Difference is not merely unavoidable but good, precious and in need of protection. A chance to reconsider individual freedom in diversity. Lingis/1994: community of those who have nothing in common is constituted by our response to the stranger (…) in our system of laws and our social institutions we recognize our formulated experience, our judgement, our debated consensus-in our rational enterprises we find nothing alien to us, we find ourselves (…) Biesta/ 2004: communication is ontologically prior to community but establishes community in the act of our response. What constitutes this other community inside the rational community is our responsiveness (…) Giroux/2011: pedagogy is a mode of witnessing, a public engagement in which students learn to be attentive and responsible to the memories and narratives of others

Hybridity: term originates from Latin and has roots in biology. It refers to cross-fertilization or amalgamation, the adoption and integration of elements from foreign cultures for Greeks and Romans, the international style in archaeology where no culture predominates (…) the term is closely connected to post-colonialism and multicultural awareness, it is an effort to remove negative connotations from words such as bastard or mongrel (…) Bhabha/1994: it is not a sequential blend of sth like flipped classroom or blended learning but it is sth other, a new breed, sth that is at least at two places at once.  (…) an effect of globalization/ hybridity emerges through the multitude of identities as a reality of the global classroom (…) Deleuze-Guattari/1980: a seamless and continuous flow wothout beginning and end akin to a rhizome (…) as a philosophical concept it suggests hesitation at a threshold (…) Stommel/2012: hybrid education is characterized by disruption, open-endedness, risk-taking, experimentation, empathy, dialogue and critical creativity.

 

References

Pedersen, A.Y., Nørgaard, R.T., Köppe, C., 2018. Patterns of Inclusion: Fostering Digital Citizenship through Hybrid Education. In Educational Technology & Society, 21 (1), 225-236

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