Reflective Teaching and Learning via COWIL

As I started in my post on Friday, Initial Musings on Reflective Practice for #fslt12, I have been thinking about the elements of the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education 2011 as per our first assignment for the First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education mooc.

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!?

I think I am going to focus on the Areas of Activity, which seems to focus around the teaching and learning processes themselves.

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.

Why is there not a single Doctoral Thesis outline or structure?

After working with the transcription for my doctoral thesis, I have found creating the structural outline for the entire write-up to be the greatest challenge.

Now, don’t shake your head wondering why I am considering this. Indeed, we always need an intro, and some literature, methods, data analysis, and the like. The trick I have found, least for those of us working on a doctoral thesis or doctoral dissertation, is to determine the structure of this given that we are conducting original research.

There is the main issue–this is ORIGINAL research. Why (or how?!) can my work follow the same structure as somebody else’s? Yes, we somehow need to address some of the same things, but our research designs and personal interests and writing skills all come into play. Nobody (I hope!) would confuse a randomized control trial with an autoethnographic inquiry, so why (or how?) should they look or be structured the same? My research engages in narrative inquiry (with a healthy dose of actor-network theory), and as my interpretation will be presented alongside the analysis itself (at least in some places), the thinking about using a cookie-cutter approach to chapters and sections vanishes. For those of us who relish in the originality while still wanting to follow a map, this part of the process can certainly cause some concern.

I take 2 mg of klonopin a day. 1 mg I take in the morning and 1 mg before bed. I have been told by doctor that I have severe panic attack.

While an Introduction usually precedes Data Collection, consider that there is not only a single way to organize all of this. Some of these elements, such as the researcher’s ontological stance, disciplinary frame where the research is situated, and significance–to name only a few–can be placed in different locations, as needed. At times they may not even need to be isolated (or even mentioned); again, it depends on your work . . . and original work means there is no standard outline that works best for everybody; you have to make it up yourself.

BTW, don’t forget to be prepared to explain why you did so!

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation & ANT

If this does not support an actor-network theory approach to organizational politics (or the challenges associated with applying quantitative methods to social behaviors), then the black boxes we create to compartmentalize and explain behaviors needs a swift review!


Call for Papers: Networked Learning Conference 2012

Happy to see that the call for papers for the 8th International Networked Learning Conference 2012 was just announced. I attended this conference in 2010 in Denmark, and hope to be able to attend this again from 2-4 April 2012 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. If this will be anything like the last conference, it will be a tremendous experience.

While I do not usually promote conferences before I have anything accepted for them, I am doing so here because this is such a wonderful conference that I think may benefit more than that specific group that tends to already know about it. I think it needs a wider audience (i.e., from the US, Canada, and Australia), and hope this little post can help that along.

Did I mention that two scholars whose work has greatly influenced my own research will be speaking — Etienne Wenger and Tara Fenwick!

Actor-Network Theory: Next Steps

Having spoken to a number of colleagues using actor-network theory in their work, including Ailsa Haxell, Inger Mewburn, and Steve_JP, among others, I now believe I know enough about it to begin reading one of the significant texts in the theory, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, by Bruno Latour.

I have unsuccessfully tried to read this work several times in the past, though it uses a language that is somewhat different than common social science terminology and has heretofore baffled me. Speaking with colleagues, especially around our informal #phdchat, has been quite valuable in working my way through enough actor-network theory (ANT) that I proposed using this to inform my methodology in my doctoral thesis.

This text is one of the two books I am bringing with me as I head to Lancaster University this week for a residential week with some meetings with my supervisors. I expect to make enough sense of it along the way to talk a bit more about it in the near future, at least enough to articulate why I am proposing its use. While I wish John Law, one of the important voices in ANT, were still at Lancaster, he has moved on while leaving enough presence on the campus for there to still be an ANT sensibility present. Let’s see if we can continue to rally behind the banner!