We are used to thinking about the syllabus as a kind of “contract” that explains what the course is about, specifies what the requirements are, lists what kind of assessments will be used, and sets out a schedule of activities, lectures and assignments. While these documents serve a purpose, they are often formidable and make for dry reading. And they can marginalize students from courses they should be co-creating rather than taking.
In keeping with a broader shift that I made several years ago to build more collaboration and interaction into the classes I teach, I now think about syllabi as “invitations” to join a learning community. I use the first person plural to indicate that we are all in this together. I set “priorities” for the semester but indicate that the group will have a say in determining how we achieve those goals and that we may identify other topics or issues that warrant exploration along the way. Continue reading “Collaborative Syllabus Design – Students at the Center”
Never mind why it’s been so long since I’ve posted (insert long whine here about being over-extended, distracted, and just plain tired….). It’s the first week of #OpenLearning18 and Mindful Learning week in GEDI. Causes to celebrate for sure. And as my planner helpfully notes, “Done is better than perfect.” So……
While everyone is moving in and getting comfy with #OpenLearning18, I want to throw a couple of nuggets out there for the Contemporary Pedagogy (#GEDIVT) group: Continue reading “Log Jam No More”
We are deep in the heart of the Contemporary Pedagogy Syllabus and last week’s session on Inclusive Pedagogy left me reeling — in a good way. Talking with a diverse group of people about how to cultivate inclusive and diverse classrooms is always interesting, and often quite challenging, but this session was especially noteworthy for the thoughtfulness and respect that carried us through the evening. We did not talk directly about some of the issues that usually come up in these sessions, but instead learned about Prof. Christine Labuski’s classroom technique of “Universal Precautions” and let that framework shape the discussion that followed. Continue reading “Can’t Let it Go — Inclusive Pedagogy With #Gedivt”
How will your experience in #OpenLearning affect your teaching practice or scholarship? Why?
#OpenLearning17 has provided lots of inspiration for making my teaching practices more open and accessible. The course has also helped me better understand some of the choices I’ve made about the learning environment I want to create with my students. I have three partially written posts about specific aspects of the course and have accepted the fact that I’m not going to finish them until after the semester is over. For now, I want to throw out what I think are three of my main takeaways:
#1: What’s in a Name? I am going to be less concerned about definitions and more attentive to what works and why. At the beginning of the semester I thought I’d come away with a coherent working definition of Open Learning. But (sort of) watching the recent debates about the definition of “Open Pedagogy” has led me to think we should advocate for a catholic use of Open and not insist on one gold star definition that gets held up as the new orthodoxy. Continue reading “Reflections on #OpenLearning17”
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”
Today is March 8 – International Women’s Day, which is being marked in the US by the #Daywithoutawoman campaign. I’ve struggled to get clarity on my own stance here — I’m especially sensitive to the point that striking is a privilege not everyone enjoys and have settled for the following demonstrations of solidarity: I’m wearing red (glasses), only spending money at my favorite local businesses owned by women, (mostly) staying off social media, reminding the world that we still / will always deserve equal pay and paid family leave, and holding off until tomorrow to post this.
It’s been nearly a week after Bryan Alexander’s invigorating tour through a “week of Digital Literacy” in our Open Learning cMOOC. Among many other things, the week helped me appreciate how fun and difficult it can be to stay abreast of a free-wheeling Twitter chat, how delightful it is to meet new people and work on shared intellectual concerns collaboratively, and how much I have to learn — not just about digital literacy, but but about learning itself.
The latter connects powerfully to the crisis of knowledge and knowing that has engulfed most communication channels since the new administration’s war on the media began under the banner of “Fake News.” Like many others, I have spent many hours searching my soul, reading (and reading), and talking with people seeking understanding — not just of how we got to what still feels like a surreal moment, but what can and must be done to move us forward — or maybe it’s backward — to a time when dissembling, manipulating, and simply lying about what happened or what one said might not have been unheard of, but wasn’t projected at a national level as an acceptable, indeed expected mode of engagement.