There are no guarantees when we try something different that it will work, but we do need to trust the process and others but also ourselves. I did and voila. Our padlet filled with a wide range of contributions (see post linked to week 1). The responses may have come in last minute, most of them, and created a challenge to read these in advance of the session (yes, it was a challenge), but they did come in. When I saw all the responses my face lid up and I was so so happy that I felt the need to share my happiness with a colleague. And I did. The experiment did work and as a group we decided, well it was my students idea, to swap papers and read another one from the same issue. This time discussing it face-to-face just before we start our session three. Amazing! Who said we can’t engage our colleagues in academic literature around learning and teaching? I think the appetite is there. We just need to find a hook to make this work. There will be multiple hooks, I am sure. And different things will work for different people.the “ripping the journal approach” seemed to have worked in this case.
This week we explored reflection and learning theories. Well, we did spent most of the time discussing and critiquing reflection and much less on learning theories. Always tricky… always. As theories themselves are decontextualised. My attempt to contextualise them was through the use of images, visual triggers, but also an activity to start working on the microteach session plan. While the groups did make some progress, I felt the activity did not work well. Maybe it didn’t work at all. It required students to have some knowledge already of the key learning theories. And while most of these were in Moodle and we provide related resources, I wasn’t sure how many had engaged with these in advance of the class. Perhaps I should really be more explicit in how the resources in Moodle could be used in preparation for a class. So there was a gap with the learning theories that I think did not let us progress as much or as deeply as I wished. Looking back now, I could have modeled more the key approaches or theories and turn them into a role play asking students to identify the theory used each time, or the theories that underpinned a specific approach as it is a mix, not a clear cut. Why didn’t I think about this earlier? In the past, I have done all kinds of different things, even editing specific Wikipedia pages, entries linked to specific learning theories, and we write about it in a paper published with a colleague on that course (Nerantzi, C. and Hannaford, L. (2016) Flipping the classroom using teams. A case study from Academic Development, in: Whatley, J. and Nerantzi, C. (eds.) (2016) Teaching with Team Projects in Higher Education, Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press, pp. 119-130).
My plan now is to develop a new activity that could be used in a future class and maybe there is an opportunity to build elements of this into the remaining sessions. I think that would be good and useful. Maybe next time round I could model in each session at least two different approaches. I will need to think about it more to come up with a plan that would work. For now, in session 3 I will integrate an element about two contrasting learning theories using related teaching and learning approaches. Let’s see what happens.
Everybody says they want creativity and innovation but when we get it we often regret it as it is messy, experimental and will generate resistance. It is also often stopped before it happens. Are innovation and creativity just buzzwords? Within a community, there is trust. Trust in each other, trust in self, trust in the process and we are more tolerant and open to alternative approaches, alternative viewpoints, alternative ideas and processes. If there is no trust,there is very little we can do… by coincidence I just read the following article linked to recent research about engagement. And while it is not linked to learning and teaching, I can see parallels and a study like this in our context would be extremely useful. My own research with Barbara Thomas, into pedagogic innovation (#pin), paper forthcoming, does show that the individual is the driver for innovation, that the individuals is seeking the collaboration with others and welcomes and seeks the support of their institution.
Hopefully my colleagues and students understood that reflection is something we do naturally and continuously. It is not an add-on or a bold-on at the end… the true value of reflection is that we can step back and step outside our own experiences, critique these and engage in conversation with others to make sense of our experiences and identify a good way forward for us and others. Reflection is not a deficit model for learning and development. It gives us rich opportunities to interrogate practice, celebrate achievements and be positive about the future. Nothing and nobody is perfect.
See you all very soon for our week 3 session. I think I have overplanned (again) and I may ask you to help me to decide what to do in class and what to leave out. Yes, I will give you some choice and will decide what we do 😉 Are you ready for this?
I hope the sun will be shining tomorrow…