Contributing to Cloud Dust
Thoughts about learning and teaching
Thoughts about learning and teaching
I made a wish last year, just before Christmas (see the end of my Dec 20th, 2015 blog post http://educomm.ca/appy-holiday-fun), and it looks like it’s coming true!
BC is going to throw it’s own 12Apps of Christmas event (#12AppsBC)- yay!!!
Thanks to my ETUG (and BCcampus) colleagues, Leva Lee and Clint Lalonde, and the rapidly assembling teams of “techies and teachers” from various higher-ed institutions, it looks as though BC is going to host a 12 Apps of Christmas event modelled on the Creative Commons licensed event developed by Regents University of London‘s Chris Rowell. And if you like the look of the event WordPress site, we had graphic design assistance from Robyn Humphreys (BCcampus). We’re gaining momentum and working out the things we still need to get done to make sure we can keep it fun but useful. Our UK colleagues have “set the bar high!”
Part of what made the 2015 UK-based events (six of them and I followed four!) so fun was the light-hearted approach and clean, straightforward design. Two of the institutions posted daily jokes or puns (I’ve added that to my list as it’s a feature that often made me smile.) I found the consistent structure developed by Regents University London made it easy to get involved in each day’s app and challenge activity. Some of the institutions played with the design but only to add a strong pedagogical focus or a particular insight (e.g., looking at how the app could be used to engage learners with different learning preferences).
As Clint mentioned in his recent post about the event, http://clintlalonde.net/2016/11/14/12-apps-of-christmas, there are literally thousands of apps targeted at education, and we all (educational technologists, faculty, administrators, students) need to become more conversant with ways to sort out the ones that have the greatest value for learning. Of course, evaluating apps seems like a Sisyphean task (IMHO) but exploring their potential uses in teaching and learning seems like a good beginning.
Our BC-based 12Apps of Christmas endeavour will be a little different than the UK events I participated in last year as we’ve asked that each day’s app be free to experiment with, available on both iOS and Android operating systems, and to have some potential usefulness in education – and that can be anything from communication to content creation. We’re planning on focusing on fun, reflecting on learning and pedagogical possibilities, and getting inspired by participants’ creations, comments, ideas, suggestions.
Hoping that many of you will join in and try the challenge activities each day. Stay tuned for more about #12AppsBC in the coming weeks!
Bravo to all who shared their “fail tales” and embraced and faced the edtech horrors we’ve created or participated in, over the past few years. The theme for this year’s ETUG Fall Workshop was: “Little (work)Shop of Horrors” and the juxtaposition with Halloween resulted in lots of colourful (?) language, metaphors, decorations and costumes.
It was held at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media – in the Hangar at the side (an appropriate place for a spookey session with it’s endless black, grey and metal, high ceiling and cold, blue lighting.) Kudos to SCETUG and the others involved in hosting this event – I appreciated the diversity of options and your thoughtfulness in providing time for listening, time for talking, time for learning and time to play.
Audrey Watters’ spooky keynote (“(not) a morphology and (not) a rumpus”) reviewed the recent past of educational technology and explored the question “How do you turn a craft, a practice, into a discipline?” Her answers were redolent with references to ghosts, demons, trolls, vampires, and zombies and links to the workshop theme of “fail tales” by encouraging us NOT to abandon our edtech creations “…lest they become monsters.”
She argued for greater awareness of the dragons, the giants and mad scientists of educational technology; the ones who “experiment on students…on public education…” They’re building machines and designing a world that “they alone can control.” And she ended with some thought-provoking messages about the future we are approaching that results from the inflammatory messages, the disruptions, the tsunamis of change and the dismantling of public education. The vision of a globalized networked society is populated partly by our monsters – can you see them?
Some highlights (for me) from the lightning stories of failure (and some successes) were:
A new thing for me this year was hosting a table in the afternoon to awaken interest and participation in an upcoming event that Leva Lee and I have been working on. Inspired by the UK event “12 Apps of Christmas”), we’ve been trying to sign people up for teams (starting with an educational technologist and an educator who uses technology in teaching or who is curious about the impact of technology) to host a BC-centred event this December. If it sounds like fun (cuz it was even as a participant as I was last year) then contact Leva or myself (Sylvia) soon!
A full and enlightening day!
(Sidenote from Audrey’s blog post: Apparently sociologist Bruno Latour wrote, of Frankenstein and his creator, it “was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”)
Have you been following the development of open textbooks on the BCcampus OpenEd Resources site – https://open.bccampus.ca/?
If you visit the website, you’ll find some exciting statistics about the amount of money saved by students, the number of textbooks created and adopted, the progress made in funding the development of ancillary resources. You can learn more by reviewing Dr. Tony Bates blog post “Acorns to oaks? British Columbia continues its progress with OERs”
While I’ve been appreciative of the efforts of the Open Textbooks project I’ve been far more impressed with their efforts to develop a broader understanding (and integration) of the “open” approach through their events and workshops, and the support of various special groups that pursue a particular aspect of OERs (eg, librarians, instructional designers, educational technologists).
I was particularly impressed with Lauri Aesoph’s decision to “walk the talk” by making the development of the popular guides:
visible and transparent by posting, in the Pressbook for each guide under development, a page that lists the dates and progress of various sections. AND she’s going to cc-license the “in process” material as well as the final version – very gutsy but definitely in keeping with the spirit of “open” I admire.
While the cautious side of my personality looks ahead and sees the potential chaos if people see too many “warts” in an open development project (i.e., lack of trust in the final product), the side that has always been thrilled by the possibilities of crowdsourcing and open learning/education/development approaches, applauds Lauri’s “big sky” thinking “A New Future for Open Textbooks” at the end of her blog post “From Transparent to Invisible: Open Creations”
What I see missing is a way for people to connect with each Pressbooks project and to volunteer to contribute or to report back whatever they take and use or repurpose. The shareback step seems to always be forgotten (cuz it’s hardest maybe). But kudos to Lauri and BCcampus.
You go grrrl!
What exactly do we mean by “constructive” feedback? Do we actually model the behaviours we ask students to demonstrate? Do we provide clear explanations of what we expect? Do we provide constructive feedback when the students’ feedback is weak, superficial, slapdash? Do we scaffold our learners so they can consciously build and flex their critical thinking and collaborative or team-work skills?
My reflections on constructive feedback were inspired by a random Twitter post from Howard Rheingold who shared a Diigo collection of links related to online facilitation. When I took a quick look a DS106 post on Constructive Comments caught my eye and, while scanning the article, I found an image tweet from @deedegs (Danielle Degelman 25 Nov 2014) Her visual list of the “3Cs and a Q” made me think about how I present, scaffold, model, promote constructive comments in my online facilitation.
As the Facilitating Learning Online workshop has evolved, I’ve had the pleasure of co-facilitating with several dedicated, passionate faciliators who strive to explain, demonstrate and facilitate the importance of constructive feedback or comments. When I began facilitating FLO, the workshop had built in weekly opportunities for peer-to-peer group feedback (i.e., each week a team of participants would facilitate a learning activities for the other members of the workshop). At the end of each weekly “mini-session” or “short learning activity”, the facilitators would encourage participants (to share constructive feedback on their experiences with the team of facilitators). We explored a number of different starter posts in a shared discussion forum to clarify what we were looking for in terms of “constructive”. The participant feedback, and any responses from the facilitation team members is open to the class.
During 2016, at the suggestion of FLO Facilitator, Beth Cougler Blom, we explored different ways of structuring the weekly learning activity team feedback. We asked the participants to share their feedback using these questions / prompts :
And when I review our structures and approach in light of Danielle’s 4-step feedback, I think I might reframe it this way:
During the upcoming BCcampus FLO workshop that I’m co-facilitating with Leonne Beebe, I hope to explore different ways to emphasize the importance and critical thinking that is involved in providing truly “constructive” feedback – both through the use of different feedback structures, and by asking good questions to stimulate our participants to embed this approach in their learning and practice.
So, when you think about how you encourage your learners to provide “constructive” comments or feedback – what are the essential elements you emphasize?