Blog Post 5 – Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression.” (Lynch, 2019). 2020 has been an intense year. It feels as if decades or hundreds of years of oppression and suffering are approaching a time where people will no longer let their voices be diminished. I personally believe that now is the most important time to be including critical pedagogy into our education structure.

Across all the readings this week there was a commonality between them; that compassion, love, and respect are at the heart of teaching. As humans, we should be compassionate with each other, have empathy, and spread kindness. I feel though as this message is often lost in education. Professors mold students to become work-machines. Instead of education being an eliminating experience of growth for young minds, it emphasizes inequalities. This is by the lack of affordances to education through disparities between wealthy and poorer districts, price of higher education, lack of availability, lack of recourses, or discrepancies in quality. Even if teachers/professors are unknowingly emphasizing inequalities, it does not mean it is not happening. If we start being proactive, making ourselves aware and conscientious when we are educating we can begin to make a small impact. Using compassion, love, and respect while being aware of social injustice our students face can change a student’s experience of education.

Works Cited

Lynch, M. (2019, September 06). HOW TO IMPLEMENT CRITICAL PEDAGOGY INTO YOUR CLASSROOM. Retrieved from The Edvocate: https://www.theedadvocate.org/how-to-implement-critical-pedagogy-into-your-classroom/

 

Blog 4 – Digital Pedagogy

[Written by our entire group, listed in no particular order, Alexandria Rossi Alvarez, Daniel Linares, Jenny Kirsch, Tanya Mitropoulos, and Emma Baumgardner]

If not all educators are called to be pedagogues, then how do we hold (or expect to hold) educator’s accountable for sound pedagogical practices in a global environment where everyone is barely treading water? On the flip side of this coin (as if it’s really a coin), is the question of where the collaboration exists between campus pedagogues and educators? For all their filibustering about what digital pedagogy is not, I would argue Stommel and Morris don’t do a solid job of saying what digital pedagogy is – aside from this ethereal manifestation of co-constructed knowledge heralded by Eris than an organization – or how collaboration can exist to begin filling in the scisms that exist between those that know, those that do and those that know and do. In the current era, and times to come, there will not be the option for online learning, so how about we begin educating educators on sound, digital, pedagogical approaches so both learners and educators get the most out of the platforms they are (for better or worse) existing upon?

Students in the classroom have different strengths and weaknesses, the use of digital tools can be a way to address those differences. It is within the professor’s responsibility to identify these differences among the learners and address and understand where students might be troubled. This is when digital pedagogies come in hand as they can be used to simplify and balance student’s abilities and focus on getting the feedback needed to improve the learning process.

One of the things our group chatted about was the need for an Incorporation of more studies related to people’s attention capacities online. Because we have all been forced into this online learning environment, more research ought to be done to look into the best easy to disseminate information to students and how they are retaining it. We’ve heard pieces of information here and there about how long videos should be, things to incorporate in a narrated presentation to increase engagement from the students, and how to make online learning interactive. However, it would be both interesting and helpful to have data to support the comments in one location that all educators could pull from to aid in their online pedagogy.

Online instruction specialists would be a useful new field to develop too. Since research and practice are, at least preliminarily, indicating that learning happens in a different manner when done fully online, new tools and methods are needed to optimize teaching in this context. However, as many teachers are discovering with the forced rapid conversion to online education, incorporating these tools into lessons takes time – enough to merit a full-time job. Schools with prior experience educating online are finding themselves at an advantage, being able to use the knowledge of1 employees already experienced in this context. If more schools invest in such professionals, then they too can get ahead in online education.

In the realm of digital pedagogy, efforts need to be made to encourage the accommodation of traditional and nontraditional students. One benefit of online teaching and MOOCs is the ability of the program to be able to conform to a person’s life. Creating an engaging classroom through the usage of online tools is paramount, and ensuring these programs have a positive user experience is another hurdle. Creating platforms that provide users with an easy, intuitive, and positive experience of interaction can improve the learning experience for students.

Blog 3 – Case-Based Pedagogy

I believe bringing in real-world problems into a classroom environment is a very important learning tool. Case-based learning is an accessible learning tool that has the potential to reach different types of learners. Case and problem-based learning allow students to develop problem-solving skills, utilize self-directed strategies, group participation skills, and subject matter knowledge. I think this is important because it provides students with the opportunity to learn in a different way. This provides students with the allowance to be creative, to gain self-confidence, and persevere to find a solution.

 

As adults, we are constantly being evaluated on our problem-solving abilities and evaluating others. Whether it is in interviews, peer-reviews, or team-building exercises the topic of problem-solving comes up at least once. I believe this type of learning is relevant because it prepares students for what they will experience in the future. They will be evaluated on how the collaboration with others, how creative they are in finding an actionable solution, and their project management. So, if there is an opportunity to begin instilling these traits when they are younger, I think it will only enhance those traits in their future.

Blog 2 – Inclusive Pedagogy

Fostering an environment that is inclusive and accepting for all generates a safer and more productive atmosphere for learning. Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique while inclusion refers to the behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome (Source: https://builtin.com/diversity-inclusion). Diversity without inclusion does not work. If one does not create and maintain an equitable environment for all types of people, isolation, and exclusion occurs.

Before I came back to University to pursue my Ph.D. I was working in the industry for five years. I worked as a Human Factors analysis and we ran hundreds of studies to evaluate the usability of systems. Three years into my career I had a life-changing experience that changed me as a researcher. I was conducting a research study in Michigan with a coworker. We were halfway done running participants for our study. There comes a point after you run dozens of participants that the sessions become monotonous. You get into this pattern – a routine – and it becomes hard to break out of it. Right before our next session was set to start we received a call from the front desk that our next participant had arrived, and needed help getting out of his car. My coworker and I were confused so we both went to his car to help. When we arrived, Bob (not his real name) asked us to get his wheelchair out of the trunk and to physically lift him out of his car. He was a paraplegic who has paralysis in his lower body and limited motor capabilities in his left hand. We lifted the participant out of the car, into his wheelchair, and we headed to the testing room. The test was being conducted in a BUC, so we had to lift him out of his wheelchair into the BUC seat. He was required to use controls on the driver’s door during this study and he completed all tasks and provided us with excellent feedback. This was a life-changing moment for me because I feel like it woke me up as a researcher. Before meeting Bob, all the participants I had ever interviewed (I interviewed 1,500 different people at this point) did not have any type of physical disability and we (us researchers) considered them average users. I was so incredibly wrong, there is no such thing as an average user. We need to design and create systems to make interactions easy for any type of user. Especially as a Human Factors Engineer, it was my job to ensure I fixed these systems to be inclusive and accessible to all types of users. I felt like I failed, but it took me a few weeks to understand that I had to share this experience and ensure I continued to create systems that provide all people the opportunity to travel without barriers.

After this experience, I did a lot of research and began to take courses on Diversity and Inclusion. Over time and experience, I learned things to keep in mind to create an accepting environment. In order to create an inclusive atmosphere, several factors need to be considered. First is communication and the language you speak. Without communication, strategies for creating the most inclusive environment are not possible. However, the language we use makes a difference. For example, using people-first language. Make sure to put the person first, not the disability, so say “the person/child with a disability” not “disabled child”. Additionally, consider using words that are more inclusive of other people’s backgrounds. For example, instead of saying house, you can use house/apartment/where you call home, instead of Mom and Dad you can use parents/guardians/those who cared for you, and instead of a car you can use car/bus/train/means of transportation. Another factor is accessibility. Fun fact: revolving doors were made specifically for people who use a wheelchair, and currently it is so integrated into our everyday environment that the purpose is often unknown. One thing to keep in mind that many disabilities are hidden. One does not necessarily know what people go through and what they are comfortable sharing, so it is important to be proactive. Being proactive means checking that facilities are accessible, provide reasonable accommodations, and even when advertising for events or flyers ensure the information is clear, and easily understandable.

 

Blog Post 1 – Discovering your authentic teaching self

I have never really reflected on this idea of “who I want to be in the classroom”. I was raised to be a very empathetic person, but still, hold the structure in everything I do. I think that’s what I want to take with me. I think it is important to be able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and think from their perspective. But, at some point, there needs to be a line and people need to be held accountable. The reading by Professor Fowler, made me reflect this when I got to the ‘Questions to answer for yourself’ section. I think by holding those values, that is how I stay genuine in the classroom.

 

When I was in middle school, I joined a technology-based club. I was the only girl out of 45 boys, but I loved building things, so I stayed. I entered the competition and ended up beating all of the boys who made fun of a little girl for joining “their” club. The reason I succeeded was because of a teacher who took me under his wing. He helped me, he taught me, and he guided me. The next year, I was able to recruit four other girls in my class to join the tech club and every year more girls would join. They saw my true passion for engineering, and I was able to teach others. At a very young age, I was able to mentor young girls and help them succeed. If it was not for my mentor, Mr. Gough, I would not have been able to do any of this. In the future, I would love to teach younger generations of future engineers. It would be a dream to continue the club that changed my life.

 

Also, in the reading, they discuss the ‘performance’ of teaching and adapting to acting techniques. I understand where they are coming from by engaging an audience and being able to tell a story. But, I do not necessarily agree with this. I feel like it could be ingenuine, and not resonate with the students. It becomes difficult to differ from being on in the classroom, to how you act outside of the classroom. If those personas do not align, the students can become distrustful. I think it is important to be your authentic, genuine self-inside, and outside of the classroom to create a productive learning environment.