Archive for the ‘*Limen’ Category

a paradox in a thousand words or more

paradox

This via Digg.

Awesome.

The Educational Point of View: The teachable moment

It is an educational practitioner’s role (I argue) to engage with social media, to look beyond the surface layers of services like Youtube and get beneath it, to create accounts and subscribe to new content feeds, to favorite and comment and connect, and to realise the deeper layers of what is available in social media collections, and to help identify quality information and resources and help it to emerge and rise above other content. Further, if by chance that teacher notices something missing, or something in need of correction, to see that need as an opportunity for them to create the additional or corrective media and add it back into the social media so that it can play its role in that wider collective context. Its “teachable moment”.

The Educational Point of View « Learn Online

I reckon Leigh’s hit the nail on the head here. And the contested role of the teacher as facilitator is all the more apparent. If I look to bell hooks’s work with popular culture artifacts, this is another demonstration of using social media to generate ‘teachable moments’. Mitra’s work is also a good example – a social experiment contesting the role/need of the classroom as a ‘prerequisite’ for learning.

Our learning, as with our teaching is iterative, messy, frustrating, serendipitous and we often fight to control it so as to make it neat and tidy (as we’ve been expected to do), especially in conventional educational contexts. This is why I like the notion of ‘hot action’ that David Beckett (1995, 2001) writes about – it acknowledges the work done ‘on the fly’ with a confidence and a grasp of knowledge that enables someone to push forward to pick up a new skill, strategy or process, whatever it might be. It validates what people develop, understand and learn ‘in action’, whilst working, living, playing – whatever it is that makes up our day (although Beckett talks about the workplace as the context for ‘hot action’).

There’s also the acknowledgment of the body and bodily understanding in Beckett’s notion (not a new thing if you look at work by Merleau-Ponty for example). This isn’t about ‘muscle memory’, repetitive actions refining practical skills, it is more about how our bodies carry and dispense social cues and facets of power (see Foucault’s Power/Knowledge and work by McLaren (1986) and Turner (1982) on the body and ritual for example). This is how we BE, our Self within a social context loaded with power, social politics – the body politic, ‘regimes of truth’ (again, see Foucault). We don’t just teach, we are the embodiment of teaching, likewise a student, a mother, a singer, a carpenter. We don’t simply take on the role – we BE, through our veins, our eyes, our voice, our skeleton.

And so to Leigh’s final paragraph:

I am beginning to let go of the idea that the education sector will ever make an impact on the development of social media for education and that either something else will fill that opportunity, or that darker elements such marketing and shallow entertainment will take advantage of the illiteracy and ignorance that the education sector permitted to exist. This is no reflection on the people at Orange by the way. Its just that after 5 years of doing this, I can’t see anywhere near the level of change in the educational mindset, and the wider society to that measure, that I thought should have taken place by now. Others more senior and more experienced than I assure me that a significant change is happening, but that the education sector can only respond when those changes are prevalent throughout society, rather than be the one to make the change or prepare a society for the change. And that is a fact that I am beginning to see the fairness of.

I don’t for a second believe that “the education sector” should be waiting until the “greater society” shows prevalent change – we ARE the greater society aren’t we? How can we dissect society in this way? Is change about taking turns? What makes education sit outside the greater society? Since when do we need some sort of permission to “respond when those changes are prevalent”? Who will tell us when that happens?

Stick to your guns Leigh – the proof is in the practice. Surely a critical mass of ‘teachable moments’ must at some point amount to a revolution?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead

Refs:
Beckett, D. (2001) ‘Hot Action’ At Work: Understanding ‘Understanding’ Differently, in T. Fenwick (ed.) Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Learning Through Work. New Directions for Adult and Community Education Series. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Beckett, D. (1995) Adult Education as Professional Practice. PhD thesis. http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/dspace/handle/2100/337

McLaren, P. (1986) Schooling as a Ritual Performance. Taylor & Francis.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=mYcOAAAAQAAJ

Turner, V. (1982) From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. PAJ Publications.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Turner

Grasping the participatory web (or, throwing a net over jelly)

I think we are missing the real (and potentially revolutionary) story of the participatory web (Web 2.0 if we must call it that) if we focus on seeking and ensuring “expertise” before we proceed.

Rant Warning: My take on the participatory web | Designed to Inspire

Jennifer Maddrell makes a good point here, something that I struggle with when posting to my blog. I have so many posts in draft form, I wonder whether I’m actually keen to post or whether it’s the actual writing process itself that is helpful. This is a valid point, more generally, I think. I for one write to not only express my point of view, but to articulate it in the first instance — from the mind to the world via the fingertips.

In my work, Jennifer’s point rings all the more true when you consider the so-called ‘walled garden‘ approach that is still alive and kicking around most education institutions. Changing mindsets when it comes to the participatory web is not all roses and frilly bits! Is it to do with change, enacting a change process, or, is it more than that? Organisational culture? Individual values, beliefs, preferences?

I, along with others, have been developing the web presence for the Action Learning, Action Research Association and this is certainly one of the key factors that has not only impacted our progress, but has also brought our traditional association structures into question – a good thing, yes, I think so, but at that same time, the transition is untidy, frustrating, and for the most part NONparticipatory! Kind of ironic when you think about what the association stands for. Then again, we’re all subject to the same human flaws I suppose. It’s also a bit of an intergenerational thing. Engaging new members means offering new ways of doing and of being, and there lies a tension between answering to that call and maintaining a place in which more traditional members feel acknowledged for the valuable work they do.

Transformer

How does participation itself occur? How does one encourage participation? Engage people of their own free will, with little coercion? When is it OK to force the horse’s nose into the trough?

And who can say; perhaps Gill Scott Heron was right, the revolution will not be televised! Still, I’m with Maddrell, just get in there and DO it.

Note: sincere thanks to a work colleague for the subtitle to this post (arising from a discussion about implementing a change process)! :o)

Who builds the bricks in the first place?

I have been stewing over e-portfolios and PLEs lately, particularly as we head into the new year and avenues by which to further traverse the (e)learning meta-scape!

I came across this recently:

A PLE is composed of a set of customized applications on the client side. Some of them will operate in a standalone way, while others will exchange information with server side applications. Thus, if a PLE becomes essential for the daily work of a user, the data flow between client and server side applications will allow the automatic feed of the social networks to which the users belongs to.

PLE bricks for social network construction « Personal Learning Environments

This short post on the PLE blog got me thinking about Donald Norman’s book Emotional Design (2004), particularly his closing remarks about design. It’s a dilemma many designers – educational, architectural, mechanical, etc contend with – that is, if we design it will they come? The quote above from the post doesn’t say ‘PLE’ to me, more it says ‘here are tools to generate your PLE’. Same goes for discussions around ‘e’portfolios – portfolios are methods, processes, learning approaches, outcomes, etc – adding an ‘e’ only says this is a electronically supported portfolio, another tool or space for me to generate some learning/living/reflection – or whatever frames the portfolio approach in a pedagogical sense (meaning that we are all pedagogues).

Donald Norman (2004),

We are all designers. We manipulate the environment, the better to serve our needs. We select what items to own, which to have around us. We build, buy, arrange, and restructure: all this is a form of design (p.224, my emphasis).

And further on,

We are all designers – and have to be. Professional designers can make things that are attractive and that work well. They can create beautiful products that we fall in love with at first sight. They can create products that fulfill our needs, that are easy to understand, easy to use, and that work just the way we want them to. …. But they cannot make something personal, make something we bond to. Nobody can do that for us: we must do it for ourselves (p.225, my emphasis).

And finally, this,

We are all designers – because we must be. We live our lives, encounter success and failure, joy and sadness. We structure our own worlds to support ourselves throughout life. Some occasions, people, places, and things come to have special meanings, special emotional feelings. These are our bonds, to ourselves, to our past, and to the future. When something gives pleasure, when it becomes a part of our lives, and when the way we interact with it helps define our place in society and in the world, then we have love. Design is part of this equation, but personal interaction is the key (p.227, my emphasis).

It’s not that we should give up and throw away design, or PLEs, or (e)portfolios; more that we can pass on the design decisions to others – which to me is what educational design should be about – learning the ropes, grappling with the concept, checking the landscape, reviewing and entering into the commentary, adding to the ‘research’, sharing the learning, and, ultimately, our lives.

PLEs are just this – US. We learn. We test that learning. We refine. We share with others. They share back, and with more others… it’s not the application, or the content, or the method even – it’s the interactions and the relationships that form and uniform as we learn, unlearn and relearn. Much like life really!

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Change: into the next phase

Catching up on my feeds and landed on Dave Pollard’s blog once again – if there’s anything I read up close it’s Dave’s blog.

# THE FIRST KEY TO CHANGE: Relate: You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope. If you face a situation that a reasonable person would consider “hopeless,” you need the influence of seemingly “unreasonable” people to restore your hope–to make you believe that you can change and expect that you will change. This is an act of persuasion–really, it’s “selling.” The leader or community has to sell you on yourself and make you believe you have the ability to change. They have to sell you on themselves as your partners, mentors, role models, or sources of newknowledge. And they have to sell you on the specific methods or strategies that they employ.
# THE SECOND KEY TO CHANGE: Repeat: The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you’ll need. It takes a lot of repetition over time before new patterns of behavior become automatic and seem natural–until you act the new way without even thinking about it. It helps tremendously to have a good teacher, coach, or mentor to give you guidance, encouragement, and direction along the way. Change doesn’t involve just “selling”; it requires “training.”
# THE THIRD KEY TO CHANGE: Reframe: The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. Ultimately, you look at the world in a way that would have been so foreign to you that it wouldn’t have made any sense before you changed.

How to Save the World

I’m not sure where I’d be (in my head, that is) if Dave wasn’t around to offer some points of focus!

Change is imminent in my workplace – the path is now set, and the time for transition is upon us. Dave has proffered these timely points regarding change management, which I’m blogging here as a reminder for myself, should I feel lost along the way! These points above remind me again of the notion of emergence, or emergent design. Following this, Dave posted a conversation he had with Rob Paterson about the future of education, which I’m now going off to listen to.

I’ll post more in response to this shortly :o)

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