Do we have a purpose in higher education?

Whoa…. that is a big question. Is he allowed to drop a question like that on this blog?

Yes. Yes I can. Because I have both agency in my individualized learning and intrinsic motivation to learn.

We need and entry point into our learning and engagement. Attitude is everything in learning and interactions. If we go into a situation believing we will fail or not enjoy it, then that is more likely to happen and the reverse is also true. Remember that both you and your students perform based on the expectation and needs presented.

But what does it mean to be present? Is it physical placement in a room or is it emotional interaction, cognitive recognition? Teachers need to have presence, and to command a space. This does not mean that a teacher is forceful or overbearing to the students, but that he or she is interesting so that the students are interested. We need to remain flexible and adaptable as teachers for ourselves and for our students. This flexibility will mitigate or watch out for narrow-minded thinking. If students are forced to think, then they will be able to retool their engagement methods for life-long learning. So, when you enter the room, see the situation present, throw out the either/or that continues to dominate a binary way of thinking and begin to use continuum of both/and.

Here is a funny example of how doing the same thing for every given situation may not turn out well. So here is a short video. I give you, Dr. Bees! (there is some cursing)

So what we find is that, for better or for worse, Dr. Bees was done in somehow. But how could we have saved Dr Bees? Honestly, I don’t think we could have saved him, but we can save our teaching style. How? By not romanticizing the past. We have rose-colored glasses when we think backwards. Oh man the 90’s were great! Not necessarily. I was a small child with the world in front of me and no responsibilities or emotional baggage. It is all about context. We should at least try using the technology to reinvent our interactions. If it does not work then retool and try something new.

In the end is our agency connected to technology? For example do people begin to find meaning only in the interaction with technology and not other people? Perhaps. I contend that there are always good and bad sides to things: it is all about the context. Once again I reached out to web, finding this little gem: That the future of social interact needs alot of fore-Sight and creative thinking.

So through the video you see that the technology was used for fun, interactive learning or doing. Towards the end of the video it gets a little darker as he “hacks” his date’s system. So should we let the fear of potential negative keep us from using technology to move forward? I don’t think so. No matter what is created some will use it for good, others bad.

However, I am placing labels on things and their without considering context. Placing labels and categorizing or stereotyping is not all positive. We take a group of people and compress their experiences down to a few generalities. So stereotypes or labels can help us understand, but not truthfully acknowledge a person’s context.

So if we continue to stereotype people and students, is there any hope? Well yes, don’t fall apart on me now like Dr. Bees did.

We have individualized learning. We have the opportunity to teach students better by responding to who they are, not what they appear to be. If we can find the element within individualized learning that the student will respond to and become engaged, then we can harnessing the our power for the learner, making teaching learner centric.

This is a form of pragmatic engagement and intrinsic motivation on the part of the teacher and student. Everyone is going to have different interaction and success based on those interactions.

This way of thinking is not new. Goethe’s method of knowing (c1750), called phenomenology was one such method of interacting with phenomena. It is critical to understand that the interaction with a phenomenon was done while thinking, not merely accepting information on facts or faith. It [thinking] is not a binary system. People bring their biases, cultural background, hopes, dreams, and previous knowledge to a given situation and engage based on their experiences. But this makes humans fun, exciting, even dangerous because we think! We have the ability to analyze a situation and build upon previous experiences.

But the system we created and we continue to perpetuate does not encourage such thinking or doing. So, some have tried to break the by changing the method of how lectures are delivered and who they can be delivered to. These in-person lectures have been translated to online lectures for those who cannot afford to go to traditional colleges either in cost or time. But these lectures have been directly transcribe to a video media, without regard to how the media is used. Sometimes you wonder if the teachers missed what the translation or prompt should have been (At least PG-13). These lectures are typically poorly made and not able to keep students engaged.

So does this mean that we do away with lectures online? No. both/and we need to have in person lectures that convey the basic information that is needed to be comprehended in the course, but then develop and use a different style of conveying information in a video presentation to supplement the core intention.

Thus the “vlog” or video blog.

Higher emotional levels, smaller discrete units of information, cuts in dead time all lead to shorter videos with more engagement by the students. We do not have to discard the lecture, just reformat it. Since there is no need to corral students with online classes, so lectures can be broken up, watched multiple times, or any number of other options.

The only things is you have to make sure your situation does not leave your students like they are just producers, or cogs in a machine. Try to make them feel needed or valued contributors. This sense of contributing and agency is what makes online classes more successful. Or you are just gonna be a frustrated code monkey. The code monkey video makes all of the parts to a more successful “lecture”. Fast moving, upbeat, simple message. That is how to convey important, or funny information quickly and deliberately. Another way to teach information is through satire: Semicolon by the lonely island. (some vulgarity, ok actually alot)

We as teachers and students do not need to be able to know everything internally. We can use technology as an extension of who we are as learners and thinkers. The extension of the mind is called prosthetic knowledge. We are able to know based on the ability to find it somewhere.

Finally, in terms of teaching we need to give students a reason to ask why? But we can leave how students should learn up to the teachers themselves and make it funny:

How Animals Eat Their Food Part 1 and How Animals Eat Their Food Part 2.

[Thanks for Listening]


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