swimming against the stream
… we went for the double session this week. It wasn’t planned and we had actually given up in a way to do the educational visit again because of the very limited but very strong negative feedback we had received previously. How silly that was! When we believe that something is right, despite the fact we get an opposition, we shouldn’t really give up. I was the one saying ‘Only dead fish swim with the stream’ and then I became one of them… I think that is sad. But I have woken up now. Last week it suddenly clicked during the voting stage when we actually asked the whole cohort if they wanted to go to Manchester or stay on campus for a session there. Since we are two delivering we don’t really need to be in the same location all the time. This gives us actually greater flexibility to do different things and I just realised that. We haven’t really explored this before but I think what we did this week was a step in that direction. I am so glad we did it! A whole new world is now opening up in front of us and Neil will already think… oh my God what is she going to do next… anyway.
I actually wanted to write about yesterday last night but then other things happened and now it feels already a bit too late to reflect. I had it all planned in my head what I would write and now it is gone but I will try to capture my current thinking since I feel that it is impossible to capture what I was thinking yesterday.
The Manchester session worked. I was so pleased that everybody embraced the challenge with positivity. This time around, the scenario provided a clearer context and made it relevant to individuals delivering large-group session as well as small group sessions despite the fact that the scenario was actually for large-group delivery. So many creative ideas.
The discussions afterwards were really interesting and the answers to the question how the pairs worked together and the process they followed was fascinating. It showed again that we can’t really push the magic button and expect ideas to fall from the sky. It doesn’t happen that way. It can be hard work, frustrating and it is a whole journey in itself. We need time and space to reflect, to link, to make sense of things until we are sort of happy with our idea and thought and start believing in it that it can work and not just work, that it can work well and better than anything else we have tried before. The thing with creativity is that is really should be something of value, not just new and novel. We don’t know if it will work when we come up with the idea, turn it into a concept and start experimenting with it when bringing it to life. But at some point we need to reach the stage where we believe that it could and will work! Otherwise what is the point?
It was also interesting to experience how creative our academics really are and willing to learn with and from each other. And this is really key in the whole process and will enable us all to do great things together and move forward. I liked the fact that they took the challenge to spend as little as possible and some didn’t spend a penny and still come up with innovative ideas! It shows that we don’t really need expensive resources and that you can make big changes with little, inexpensive or free things. The how you use something is much more important to what you use. Beyond props ‘using’ colleagues and their expertise is another creative and resourcful strategy.
Too many times we focus on our need to use the latest technologies, the latest gadgets, expenisve models etc. when we have resources lying around that we could use with our students to bring our sessions to live and that applies to small- and large group teaching? However, do we really nee props all the time??? Some will thing and say, some have already in the past, that this is totally inappropriate for higher education. Are they right and we wrong? I think it is not about being right or wrong. It is about exploring alternative approaches that might work better than what is commonly used and add suspence, encourage creative and critical thinking and engage our students actively. If this happens with toys or everyday objects or photographs, that is great. Are toys and games just for children? Why do we keep thinking that these are just for kids and their use in higher education is inappropriate?
I also liked the fact that tutors have started thinking of using their own devices to create their own resources. It was really interesting to see that many yesterday had used their phones to capture photographs – which didn’t cost them anything extra. In the past we have seen many tutors having such devices but not realising the potential they have for their practice. I think this is changing now and I am really pleased about that. Some also suggested that students could use their own devices as well during sessions to provide additional opportunities to interact with each other. Especially in these difficult time using our own devices for teaching and learning will become more and more important.
Great ideas and I hope that our tutors will start experimenting actively with these to spice up their sessions.
What a super special day! Well done everybody!