Instructor Provocation, Student Imagination: Networked Learning(?)

As someone else noted, the most notable takeaway from this week’s materials on ‘Networked Learning”– those connections maintained and transfered in a near reciprocal level between educator and student on and via networked platforms –there are immeditae concerns raised when entertaing such a concept; perhaps its just me (?). Before digging into the materials I feel I was definitely conflicted if anything. On one hand, having just taken GRAD 5004: Preparing Future Professoriate (Fall 18), I am more sensitive of the responsibilities that young academic instructors (us) have in being the intellectual and developmental role models for undergraduates. As Dean DePauw mentioned to us last semester, in an age where more emphasis (at least in US) is placed on entry-level academics to not teach but rather achieve and produce ‘deliverables’–tangible proof of one’s worth in research, publication, and, arguably more measured in corporate academic models, grant money–maintaining and honoring the position we have as college instructors is, while maybe at times less under scrutiny from universities, more important than ever. As Dr. Nelson discussed, along with many of us after her, the use of these “innovative” technological platforms for learning are increasingly flawed in their presumptive algorithems aimed at gathering quantitative data in aggregate to model not student -intructor experience, learning, and development, but instead ‘bottom-dollar’ stats for admins in deciding future course assignments and platform efficacy.

Yet, on the other hand, as a public historian and humanist, I LOVE and live by the model of networked learning in public venues, engagements, and practioning. Shared knowledge and coocreation of knowledge and dispersal thereof is the trademark of my own last four years of work in documenting, registering, sharing and provoking peoples on a social network site dedicated to one Appalachian county in southwest Virginia. Not only is it a way to document the material culture heritage of a region historically trivialized and stigmatized as ‘others’ and/ or ‘backward,’ but it aims to develop relationships with locals, typically reserved from providing oral history and tradition; thus a reciprocal process of education is triggered and (hopefully) burgeoned.

I suppose, to quote Gardner Campbell, as globalized creatures, the internet “was designed for just this kind of collaboration.” The web provides just as much security as it does take away in our teaching and learning abilities. Yett, Campbell’s point on student “experiential learning,” is lofty, admirable, and appreciative. However, I still have reservations. Having taught e-campus courses on behalf of VT for Summer Sessions (1&2) of 2017, Winter Sessions (17-18′; 18′-19′), I have often found difficult ways to fully embrace Campbell’s calling. Above all, I took more from Doug Belshaw’s insistence on “working openly.”

Yet, putting Belshaw and Hitchcock to task: is there really a true open anymore on the internet? I do not know, I am a bit stunned.The feedback and conversation from our first meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23rd was, perhaps [keep in mind, historian talking whose thrived off small grad seminars at VT] , the most heated debate on one great inquiry raised by my colleauges in-class.

My response and ultimately to this week’s topic; cherish, embrace, and, above all, accept and PROVOKENo. Do not become another Alex Jones etc., who leeches off disinformation. But, I am at a bit of a reservation this week at least in considering our previous day one discussion.. Some, at least I witnessed, I have never seen so passionately EVER after two MAs and now a doctoral student at VT, a discussion in a room of 40 graduate students engage on day 1 of any course.

To be fair, I brought in at the get go of this post my reservations c. 2015 Spenser. Originally typing this post I thought “They are not, however, contemporaneous to the person currently typing on this late-Sunday afternoon.” Call me cheeky, but, like networked learning, human education through such means (rightfully promulgated by Dr. Nelson), once corrupted in a world of for-profit platforms merits inquiry and investigation for a twenty-first-century world community.

One Reply to “Instructor Provocation, Student Imagination: Networked Learning(?)”

  1. I am trying to figure out what stunned you so much about last Wednesday’s debate, the passion the students showed, or the topic, or that that topic would incite that kind of debate? It makes sense to me that it would be a topic that we are all passionate about. We all know we are being digitally monitored and that our data is being mined, and I think we all hope we won’t have to think about it too much, that we won’t be given cause to have to take it more seriously. But now with all the data breeches and shady doings, and maybe most importantly, political consequences, it makes sense to be passionate about the ways that our universities monitor us and allow our data to be commodified.

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