Learner-Centered Syllabi Gems (#Gedivt S17)

As promised, I’m posting an assortment of “gems” from the draft syllabi we workshopped in Grad 5114 a few weeks ago. This collection is suggestive rather than exhaustive, and I’ve removed names unless you specifically indicated that it was ok to include them.  Lots of inspiration here!

Healing Gems. Public Domain

Course Descriptions / Introductions:

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Contemporary Pedagogy at VT: A Conversation with Shelli Fowler

Orange Sneakers

Working with the Open Learning cMOOC  (#OpenLearning17) has given me the opportunity to re-connect with one of the most inspirational and talented educators I know. During her long tenure at Virginia Tech Dr. Shelli Fowler developed and taught a graduate course  called “Pedagogical Practices in Contemporary Contexts.”  A jewel in the crown of certificate programs in Transformative Graduate Education and Training the Future Professoriate, Contemporary Pedagogy brings together graduate students from across the university in a seminar devoted to developing a distinct teaching praxis. Shelli designed the course, which is known across campus as “GEDI” (the Graduate Education Development Institute) to help graduate students acquire the diverse and flexible skill sets they need to succeed and lead as teacher/scholar/professionals in the changing landscape of higher education. It works at multiple levels — as a professional development forum for early-career teachers, as an interdisciplinary discussion of the challenges and commonalities of engaging undergraduates at a Research I university, and as a site of critical engagement over the connections between the philosophical underpinnings and practical application of pedagogy (praxis). Continue reading “Contemporary Pedagogy at VT: A Conversation with Shelli Fowler”

Standing Rock / Authentic Teaching

She arrived, in tears, just as class was about to start. “It’s been a rough day,” she said. The government is moving in on Standing Rock. Clearing the camp. Making way for the pipeline. Buzzfeed had a live feed. Several people arrested. At least one person injured. The choppy feed showed muddy expanses, melting snow, and a line of veterans who came from across the country to help defend a sacred space from a pipeline.

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“Help Me Grok it and I’ll Help You Make it Real” / Filtering Forward the High Value Trails

Grok Hybrids?

Wednesday’s webinar and twitter chat with Hypothes.is founders Jon Udell and Jeremy Dean — masterfully MC’d by OpenLearning17′Gardner Campbell — gave me so much food for thought.  We are starting to use Hypothes.is in the graduate pedagogy class I teach and we read “Working Openly on the Web” (7 Ways to Think like a Web) during the first week of class. So getting to listen to these three in action was a huge treat.

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Too Big to Know: Monday Morning Live Tweet Class with David Weinberger

Too Big To Know

Greetings Open Learners!

We have a late-breaking, serendipitous opportunity tomorrow morning to talk about David Weinberger’s book, Too Big To Know on Twitter. Weinberger, a philosopher and technologist who writes about the effects of the internet on human relationships, is currently a senior researcher at Harvard’s  Berkman Center. In light of current discussions about the nature of facts and their alternatives, the book’s subtitle — “Rethinking Knowledge
Now that the Facts aren’t the Facts,
Experts are Everywhere, and
the Smartest Person in the Room
is the Room.”   — is especially compelling.

Dr. Weinberger will be Skyping into Tom Ewing‘s undergraduate course on Data in Social Context at Virginia Tech  to talk about Too Big To Know with Tom and his students.

I will be live tweeting the conversation tomorrow (Monday) from 10:10 to 11:00 am EST. If you’re familiar with the book or Weinberger’s work please join us. And if you aren’t please join us anyway!  You can follow along and send questions and thoughts to #Openlearning17 and #Faccollab.

Followers of #gedivt — I will try to flag you all as well, but the best bet would be to check #OpenLearning17

Twitter Handles: Data in Social Context: @DiSCVT ;David Weinberger: @dweinberger ; Tom Ewing: @EThomasEwing

The Student-Centered Lecture

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fdkomite, Lectures

A couple of years ago, when I began thinking about the courses I teach as places where content is created and curated rather than transmitted and tested, lecturing was one of the teaching modalities I most wanted to jettison. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy lecturing, it just seemed that so little of it “stuck” — and what did stick often sounded parroted or parodied when it came drifting back up through the prose of a midterm essay. My lectures articulated my explanation and interpretation of historical developments I’d spent twenty years studying and thinking about. Did I think they were good? Yes. Did students get a lot out of them? I liked to think so. Did what they learned from them stay with them past the midterm? Doubtful. Was there a better way? Probably.

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Essentially historical Freire

It is all here:

“The teacher who thinks “correctly” transmits to the students the beauty of our way of existing in the world as historical beings, capable of intervening in and knowing this world. Historical as we are, our knowledge of the world has historicity. It transmits, in addition, that our knowledge, when newly produced, replaces what before was new but is now old and ready to be surpassed by the coming of a new dawn. Therefore, it is as necessary to be immersed in existing knowledge as it is to be open and capable of producing something that does not yet exist. And these two moments of the epistemological process are accounted for in teaching, learning, and doing research. The one moment, in which knowledge that already exists is taught and learned, and the other, in which the production of what is not yet known is the object of research. Thus, the teaching-learning process, together with the work of research, is essential and an inseparable aspect of the gnostic cycle.”

Paolo Freire — Pedagogy of Freedom, p. 34

I share the widespread admiration of Freire for his indictment of the “banking model” of education (deposit knowledge in empty vessels), his commitment to literacy as a vehicle for enlightenment (reading the word to read the world), and his insistence on the integral connection between teaching and learning (the former needs the latter).  I am captivated by his exposition via aphorisms that compel and provoke engagement: “There is no such thing as teaching without research and research without teaching.” And, “as I teach, I continue to search and re-search.”

Coming at Critical Pedagogy from historical contexts where the connections between education, creativity and political change were fiercely contested I imagine Alexander Bogdanov talking to Freire about the creation of a proletarian culture that would be free of the oppressive ideology and antiquated forms of the bourgeois heritage the Bolsheviks admired (as a hallmark of civilization) and sought to supplant. In Freire’s summons to action I hear echos of emancipatory projects committed to enhancing human dignity that stretch back to the Enlightenment and far beyond.

But for me, Freire’s acknowledgement of our historicity, our existence as historical beings – with all of the powers and limitations that implies is what makes his theory so complete – so all-encompassing – integrating both what is and what will be: “it is as necessary to be immersed in existing knowledge as it is to be open and capable of producing something that does not yet exist.” Here I find support for Paul Gee’s  ideas about the challenges of educating for the future as well as Seymour Papert’s insistence that students become the subjects rather than the objects of education. And in this pithy assessment of the integral relationship between research, teaching and learning I find a succinct and absolutely convincing validation of the university mission:

“The one moment, in which knowledge that already exists is taught and learned, and the other, in which the production of what is not yet known is the object of research.”

It is all there. You can’t separate out the teaching from the learning from the researching.  They work together as part of a whole.