Week 3

Interesting week to begin considering how to design a class. Spent the whole summer “evergreening” a course series we built last year to bring the content up to date. The thing has been complete for a couple of weeks but I can’t get sign-off from busy people and began distractedly downloading articles like, “How Leaders Kill Meaning at Work” from the McKinsey Quarterly and have been sent home for 2 weeks to recover from burn out.

As a cure for being seasonally marinated in tepid pedagogy I’ve decided to create my own course on: I’m not sure what.

As someone untrained in instructional design it may be that I have no business dabbling in the field. And yet, I am immersed in the field; exposed to the politics; mediate between resisters, keeners, administrative requirements, absurd to sublime theories of how humans learn; and have now been driven quite batty by the whole process so why not dive right in?

First thought is to create an course on how courses are built from the standpoint of someone who never did well in school. “Why Can’t I Get This?” or “A Million Misunderstandings” could be titles for a tour through theory, evidence and pure speculation that would humanize learning. In some ways this resembles those “strategies for being a better student” guides except for part where you are required to capitulate.

To the title again I am inspired by the following passage from the Wizard of Oz. It speaks to the chance to revisualize “school” through online education.

“I want you to fly me to Kansas,” said Dorothy.

But the Monkey King shook his head.

“That cannot be done,” he said. “we belong to this country alone, and cannot leave it. There has never been a Winged Monkey in Kansas yet, and I suppose there never will be, for they don’t belong there. We shall be glad to serve you in any way in our power, but we cannot cross the desert. Good-bye.”

Now I have to figure out the guiding principals.

Inspiration #3 = Thinking about a lack of thinking

“I always wonder about Dewey’s tart comment in Democracy & Education that no one has satisfactorily explained why children enter school with more questions than when they leave it.”

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  • Helen Crump  On September 26, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    I enjoyed reading your post and the link to the article “thinking about a lack of thinking” was an enjoyable and worthwhile read too.

    Have you hit on the ‘guiding principle’ for your ‘course’ yet? I’ve selected a textbook that comes with a handy companion website. If you can identify anything similar and suitable in the area you’re interested in, it’s not a bad place to start as it provides a ready made structure and some level of content already.

    So, to thoughtful thinking and productive designing. Good luck with your project.

    • Scott Johnson  On September 26, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      Hi Helen, almost ran into each other commenting on blogs. Not really settled on guiding principal though I think a respectful and self-paced introduction to online teaching for existing teachers is close to the principal. Our instructors are extremely adept at teaching an underserved student base that themselves are unfamiliar with technology. In addition, these students have declared a desire to study in their own communities which new teachers are rightfully hesitant to visit. Teaching online is a really good alternative here for a hundred other reasons too but the first barrier is to bring the teachers in and they are totally unconvinced the delivery method will work. Very personal stuff here.

      For a “text” I’m thinking of ‘Cultivating Communities of Practice’ by Wenger, McDermott and Snyder. Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave wrote ‘Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation’ which was the only useful teaching theory book I ever read while training apprentices. Was reintroduced to Wenger through Jenny Connected which is Jenny Mackness’ blog. The book is actually laid out in a structured order—all I have to do is read it. (Not sure how to put a link in this reply. Jenny is at: http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/the-challenge-of-openness-in-small-moocs/ )

      Looked at the portfolio mention in Ko and Rossen and it appears useful for self-discovery as well as assessment. Have to be very careful not to make this “course” seem like a test of willingness to “cooperate with management.” These teachers will not play if they sniff compromise as a hidden agenda here. For older teachers, the move to online is considered a threat I think mostly because it’s been shoved at them by people who have no idea what teaching actually is.

      One suggestion. Any discussion area that is promoted as student only should be labeled as not monitored by the instructor. Or admin set up a Yammer discussion area to “tap into the value of social knowledge” among staff and then immediately issued a rule on time spent “chatting” followed by a rant from the president on speaking “against” his ideas. It is now a digital silent contemplation zone. If the area doesn’t feel like it belongs to the students, they won’t express any real concerns there.

      Thank for getting my thoughts started.

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