So I took some notes from the webinar that stood out to me. I would watch the video as a lot of great things were said during the hour. There was also a discussion after the webinar with those who could stay.
Watch the full video if you like here with Randy Bass, Cathy Davidson, and Mike Wesch.
There is also another video that was suggested by the connected courses folks that helps set the mindset for changing the way we think about the mundane, the common, and thankfully, the annoying.
It was interesting to be one of the co-facilitators. Being a graduate student and new to the concept of organized transformative education, which happens to use a lot of the mindset present in studio I have found, I honestly did not know if I could facilitate a discussion on what I am new to. But that is why you form a community to support each other. There are guides who you to learn the topics and the methods of transforming what is currently education.
So moving on from the actual event, what were some of the ideas that could form take-aways, from the perspective of a new educator?
For an educator that is just learning what it can mean to teach others. It is interesting to see that my experience in education is now undesired as a teaching style. I moved through a system that was memorize this and recall that, with almost no synthesis. It was explained that this not necessarily the fault of teachers but of the system, as during the webinar there was a call for reforming standardized testing.
But that is a much longer discussion for another time. So what can we, as future educators and present educators, do to make a difference in our students’ lives while “big” academia catches up?
For me much of this is relatively new, but for others its might seem like common sense.
First are we, as educators, a sage on the stage or not? With all of the new information that is constantly weaved into the internet every single day, how could we know it all? You simply cannot. So instead of trying to memorize it all, we can become facilitators in the classroom as well, not only in these webinars. Cathy describes it as: coming in and listening rather than solely teaching. Who knows, you might have an expert in your class and never know it because you never let them speak, only listen to you. Being a sage, does not let your students come together to learn, instead it presents a rift between you and those who want to learn (or at least see the necessity of it).
This sage on the stage is no longer the method for keeping our students attention. We need to find other ways of teaching that can simultaneously entertain and teach. I am not saying that everything needs to be entertaining as opposed to educational, but fused. Instead of seeing higher education for what it currently is, let us see what it can become in the future. We do not need get rid of the sage, but transform the sage to a guide.
A guide walks with you. They see you faults and strengths and mentor you. These mentors need to be able to inspire students and you to find that one question that needs to be answered most in your mind. This question can drive learning for a lifetime, and research into the future. They find questions that do not have definitive answers, and give purpose to information. That we as teachers and as students, can learn from others instead of closing our mind to new potential. It is the intersection of the known boundaries of disciplines that becomes new topics of inquiry.
We, as perceived sage, must learn how to learn again. We must cast aside a prideful nature for knowledge.
Second is the ability to design classes that are structured with large amounts of freedom. These classes do not need to be original, as everything is a remix, but authentic. Many of you have seen this, and some showed it to me, but this video compilation of Kirby Ferguson’s remix documentary. It is a remix of a remix about remixes.
We do not come up with all of the new ideas, just the personal interpretation of these ideas for others. That what we experience and perceive becomes our experience and later knowledge and perhaps a sense of wisdom. As a heads up I find myself in the epidemiological world of phenomenology.
The great and powerful Wikipedia has a good beginning on what this means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(philosophy)
But back to classes. Social contracts can take the ambiguity out of the unknown for students who have never been in a “flipped” classroom or have never experienced anything outside of a typical classroom. The ground rules as set, but the expectations are defined by the class. This is also supported by a safe environment for critiquing work, and not the student.
Finally is assessment. The most fun you ever had on a Saturday night. The ideas put forth by Randy, Cathy and Mike show how these concepts of atypical classroom can be melded back into our current form of education. Regardless of how arbitrary letters assigned to percentages is, it is what we use, at least for now. Peer-review, the idea of not-yet grades, and feedback show that the investment the student is giving to the class is the same as the professor.
Before you say that professors spend a lot of time designing lectures and notes and tests, and who know how many other things, I understand. I have done it. But the students do not know this and their perception and preconceived notion of our worth is what can shackle us as educators and as leaders. If we show that they have agency, the ability to determine and feel self-worth, in the classroom, students will begin to respond to new methods.
If we dictate and demand of them, nothing will be gained. They will close you off and the results will be… problematic.
What we have is an opportunity and a choice to teach others and to learn from them. These webinars can provide the basis for remixing something new with what we already know, to make something; hopefully for the better. Without operating in our default settings, assuming we are put upon in this world of ours, we can find a sense of place in a new educational plane.