1/ I read Hara & Sanfilippo (2016) Co-constructing controversy: Content analysis of collaborative knowledge negotiation in online communities http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1142595 #5Papers
I cannot consider the opposite unless I am clearer on what I like. While I did enough of that to get me started on this process, I want to turn my reflective attention to considering what I do not like, or to put it more gently, to more clearly articulate what does not resonate as much with me. To do so, I will reach out again to borrow from the work of Stephen Brookfield, this time his work around around the critical thinking process:
- Identify assumptions embedded in words & actions (discourses & systems)
- Assess grounds – evidence, accuracy & validity
- Take alternative perspectives – intersubjective understanding / perspective taking
- Take informed action / agency
While I am not seeking to critically think through things at this time, I do want to focus on the assumptions aspect, namely to identify those things I assume — those taken for granted beliefs about the world, and our place within it, that seem so obvious to us as not to need to be stated explicitly (again, from Brookfield).
As I see my COWIL model developing, I intentionally want to identify the things I assume are not the case about the world and my place in it, in this context teaching and learning, and explore if there is some way I can bring those things into my class as UNDOUBTEDLY there will be people who think differently enough that perhaps their needs may be met.
Let’s try a simple example I have in mind. I assume people learn by discussing (constructionist) and also by internally grappling with content based on personal experience. However, this assumption does not readily allow for watching videos and then discussing them (as I personally do not watch a lot of television, videos, movies or the like). However, in Considering the Opposite of What I Like (COWIL), perhaps I should try a video or two (like we try all things in class to see if they work for the learners, content, time, etc.) in the course.
Yes, this is a simple example that may not need a degree in education to see, but what better place to start than with something simple as I am exploring and fleshing out this model? After all, if a video or something more multimedia does not work, what has been lost? If nothing else, it becomes another teachable moment as the experience (consider actor-network theory) may more closely resonate with common learning approaches for some.
I will let you know what I find, though working through COWIL from the critical thinking frame to flesh out those assumptions can be quite useful.
- A1 Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study
- A2 Teach and/or support learning
- A3 Assess and give feedback to learners
- A4 Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
- A5 Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices
When I planned to use actor-network theory (ANT) in this reflective exercise, it was due in part to its focus on treating “everything in the social and natural worlds as a continuously generated effect of the webs of relations within which they are located” (pg. 1). In other words, thinking about my first on-campus session, we will all be there in a network of all our experiences, held in place at that time with all our technologies, artifacts, perspectives, likes and dislikes, etc.
What does that mean for my own preparation, especially in relationship to these Areas of Activity? Choosing only one of them to consider right now, such as “A3 Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance,” I will now apply COWIL, which begins with my thinking about what I like.
Let’s see, in a class of adult learner degree students, I like discussion, open ended questions, answers that are not closed or limited, more questions than answers, and a certain discomfort in pushing new ideas. What don’t I like? Lecture, pretending to give all the answers, and students not reading the texts and preparing for the discussion ahead of time.
Hmm, ANT would also remind me about the other factors that will combine into Friday’s 3-hour class session, such as the food that will be provided, the room set-up, computer and other technologies in the room, unspoken student expectation, biases against the course topical area, questions about my own background, concerns about tuition payments, the air conditioning, etc.
What am I doing here? In considering how I will normally prepare for my class (the content, objectives, clarifications over assignments, and the like), it is easy to assume (or simply not even notice) the effect all these other factors bring to the room and help maintain the interaction of the experience together. How can I consider and give voice and experience to some of these other factors if I am going to focus on the effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance? Perhaps I can use a brief YouTube video or chart for some of the content (neither of which I want to do, but both of them may help learners capture some of the sense of the material and experience I want them to have). Perhaps we can address the food and air conditioning to see if they meet the needs? The room set-up can accommodate changing the tables and seats (as I just learned) if we change the classroom (something else I just learned is possible). While I don’t like lecture, perhaps I can model some of the way my own thinking has developed over my years of study of this content, something that will allow the content to be discussed without lecture (these are all bright DNP students; they can read and do not need lecture on this topic).
These are some of the things I am considering regarding the learning environment and approach to my first on-campus class in this blended course. I hope that including elements of the opposite of what I want (COWIL), along with some of the non-human elements of the expected learning (ANT) will help all of us in the course have a more engaging and open-ended experience that promotes more personal and critical learning.
Comprised of 3 dimensions–Areas of Activity, Core Knowledge, and Professional Values–our assignment is:
Choose one of these three dimensions. What are your initial thoughts about the points listed in that dimension? Could you demonstrate understanding of and engagement with any of the points listed?
I spent the last few days considering which of these 3 dimensions are the best for me to work with with my summer class that I am teaching that begins this coming week at Pace University, NURS 840: Teaching and Learning in Advanced Practice Nursing). While I was the co-developer of this course back when the program itself was being put together and as I have taught the course since its inception, I thought this may be a great course to keep in mind regarding this mooc assignment. Why not consider this assignment in the real context of my course that is again about to begin. Who knows, some of my nursing students may even see what I am considering and give me some feedback!?
While I have taught in some capacity my entire life (with my teaching over the past 10 years occurring on my own time, and not as part of my full-time position), I believe there is always an opportunity to improve. I firmly believe that reflective practice is an element in this. While considering Brookfield’s work on the 4 lenses related to educational reflective practice (see his excellent paper integrating these in practice, Radical Questioning on the Long Walk to Freedom:
Nelson Mandela and the Practice of Critical Reflection), I am going to consider my own teaching and learning through another perspective — Consider the Opposite of What I Like (COWIL).
If I am working in a certain practice or teaching or learning or working in a way that seems to get what results I want, or that feels right, or that somehow makes sense to me, then that will probably work somewhat well for those who also approach the phenomenon in a similar way.
How about others? How about those people who need to do when I want to talk, or need to listen when I want to draw or even who believe teaching is objective when I believe teaching is a manifestation of power relationships where a certain message is taught while others are often (un/in)-tentionally suppressed?
Let me instead COWIL.
Now, I am still developing this frame, so feedback here will be well appreciated.
As I am planning for my first on-campus course of my course, how can I do this? Let me consider this from the A1 frame–“Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study.” When I am developing my course, or in the practical realm, my actual 3 hour class session, I will develop this as I normally would, focusing on the content we already identified and using the methods I like. Then, review it all again so I can Consider the Opposite of it, and then acknowledging that some of these things may not be especially useful for me, but prepare introduce or discuss or somehow address them in class for the benefit of those learners who may need to see those things.
While I am still building this frame, it is heavily influenced by using actor-network theory (ANT) to describe a current phenomenon, thereby allowing it to be interpreted from a variety of alternate perspectives. For more in ANT, consider this chapter by John Law or text by Fenwick and Edwards.
Needless to say I have been reflecting on what to write here all week. Here it is Friday, and still thinking. Perhaps still reflecting is a more apt descriptor.
I think that is one of the things I am beginning to learn (or at least articulate) — we can do lots of reflecting, though without somehow making it present and sharing it, there may not be much benefit for the larger community.
While this mooc is focused around “new lecturers, people entering higher education teaching from other sectors and postgraduate students who teach,” I initially thought it may not be the best fit for me, in that I have taught online, I teach courses on how to teach online, and I study and learn and virtually live online (pun intended), but the power of a mooc to think and reflect and informally interact (potentially) with other really interesting people has really captured my thinking, and while my own blended course that I am teaching is beginning at Pace University (where I am teaching the course NURS 840: Teaching and Learning in Advanced Practice Nursing), there is always a benefit in considering one’s own teaching and learning practices. Even if I learn a few things along the way that helps my own teaching (and in the process my own learning), then kudos to us all.
I believe taking the opportunity for my own considering my work and direction, especially as I am beginning to teach my own new university course, may hopefully benefit my own students (all adult learners who have a lot of professional education and significant responsibility in their own roles). With this said, I really like the assignment that the mooc organizers have invited us to engage in (with the beginning of the Reflective Writing verbiage here):
Your reflections are your own and personal to you. Your reflective writing should therefore focus on whatever is most useful to you at this time. However, a successful MOOC relies on open sharing of ideas and resources, so we hope you will share your reflections.
If you are unsure about what to focus on, then you might try the following suggestions. If you have chosen to be assessed, please follow the guidelines below.
We suggest that in this first week you reflect on your overall experience to date as a teacher; what kinds of students have you taught, what have you discovered from the experience, and what have you most enjoyed in your teaching?
With this in mind, I am increasingly very aware that my biggest challenge with sharing this reflecting is just starting the writing process. I find the same challenge as I work on my doctoral thesis — I have all of it floating around in my mind, with my biggest challenge to sit and begin to write about it.
Phew, with this start now out of the way, I find I am already (and quite naturally, I might add) considering the suggested elements of the The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in Higher Education 2011 in this light, and expect to continue this thinking in another post tomorrow.
Until then, good reflective practice to you.