All learning comes from change! All learning is change!

potpourri of opportunities

We are social animals, said Aristotle;

the technology of writing is bad for us, said Socrates;

we learn so much more through play, said Plato!

These thoughts, I think sum up nicely our journey on this planet and beyond and also say loads about my life as an academic developer and our purpose to change  practices and the student experience in Higher Education. When I started writing this post, my thoughts took me to places which might seem disconnected but if you read this post carefully you will discover that it is deeply interwoven with thoughts about learning and teaching, and reveal how I see things and how these are inter-connected.

We are explorers, we use our curiosity and imagination for discoveries. We experiment, we use and make tools and we learn and evolve; we survive and thrive and push the boundaries and make the impossible possible!

And while we keep saying it is not about the tools, I would like to reflect on the importance of tools. We shape tools and the tools shape us said Marshall McLuhan. Humans were always resourceful. When we lived in caves, in big forests, in villages, in towns, in big cities, in hostile environments, in physical and digital spaces, in space. And we have mastered to connect these spaces and we are connected communities. Our brain grew because we started using it more and more; we pick up objects and use them as tools, we modify them and make our own tools and we make tools to make other tools. Progressively our tools have became more complex and sophisticated as we realised the significance of these for human kind and the potential and the places and spaces they were and are taking us. Our shopping basket of knowledge is full and expanding rapidly as we speak. Aesop said we are only limited by our imagination. Exchange and co-creation; learning from our own stories and experiences; our mistakes and misfortunes but also from our successes, connecting information, resources and ideas but also people, living, working, creating, learning and changing together. Playing too, is a necessity. Shaping and re-shaping who we are, what we know and imagining the future… shaping the today and tomorrow. The human web!

There will always be voices and actions to hold us back, boulders on our paths, some of them strategically or politically. The world is moving and we move on it and with it. Stopping is no option. We need to adjust and adapt to the environments we live in and make it a life worthwhile for us and future generations. Nothing can happen without learning. Learning is change! Change is learning!

We live in the digital age where opportunities for learning have exploded, literally. We live in physical and virtual jungles and try to make sense of it all. And we keep learning. We still love learning with others, we still love making stuff, we still love sharing. We always will… I dare to say. Digital technologies have ‘invated’ our lives, diversification, internationalisation and massification of higher education are on the menu. We express our hunger for creation and are now enabled to do so easily and quickly. We carry around with us smart devices that constantly link us up with information, resources and people. We learn how to navigate, communicate, co-operate and collaborate in vast networks. We learn how to harness digital technologies and create new opportunities for learning and teaching using these. Learning happens everywhere. Learning and teaching that happens exclusively within institutional walls, detouched from the world around is anachronistic and presents an utopic way of being. Opening-up, embracing change is vital to thrive and create new paths that will lead us into a brighter future. This is easier said than done and there is resistance… I have experienced this many time in my role as an Academic Developer. Kinash & Wood (2013, 184) wrote recently, and I can’t resist quoting it here, that “academic development means that people in these roles figuratively put their heads where bullets fly.” This is so true! Often we are indeed in the firing line! I have a little message hanging on my office door saying “only dead fish swim with the stream”. I think this says something about my approach to academic development, and learning and teaching more generally. We do need to learn to cope better with change and take advantage of changes. We need to take risks! We need to be the change we want to happen. After all learning comes from change! Learning is change!

References

Kinash, S & Wood, K (2013) Academic developer identity: how we know who we are, in International Journal for Academic Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, 178-189.

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It is more than ok!

Learning spaces too - why do we forget this?

Learning spaces too - they are everywhere! But why do we 'forget'? Do we really forget?

Anybody there?

Anybody out there? Anybody listening? What about you?

and learning too

Great opportunities for borderless learning! Can you see?

Distractions! Can they be useful for learning?

Distractions are everywhere! But can they be useful for learning? Think! Unthink! Rethink!

Relax, play and discover! Have fun too! Is having fun a bad thing?

Relax, play and discover! Have fun too! Is having fun a bad thing?

It is ok to go the other way ;o)

It is ok, more than ok, to go the other way! Try it!

time never stops #SLEC2012 (week 2)

zoooooooooooooming through time

time never stops

This week was mad. I remember myself running around on Tuesday morning – Monday has been erased from my memory completely – like a headless chicken to fit everything in, get everything ready, get organised, before leaving for Brighton. I wish I had some heelys or roller skates or could make things happen by pushing a magic button!!! – but this wouldn’t be fun… Most of my week was spent at the ECEL2011 conference in Brighton, which was very useful and I am glad I could go, but did take me away from my weekly activities linked to the PGCAP (planning for next sessions and supporting students) but also the SLEC course – I missed the contact with my own students but also the opportunity to engage with the SLEC course online.

The wifi was highly problematic in the hotel (was it the sea?) and I couldn’t follow fresh conversations in Moodle. However, I just managed to read some of the stuff on the train, this also didn’t work very well because I started feeling dizzy. I just wish I wouldn’t be dizzy so easily…  I am hopeless! The good thing was that I did get some fresh sea air (really had missed the smell of proper sea wind) and had plenty of opportunities to think about my practice. So in fact I was engaged but in a different way this week in spirit I was actually there. I know it is not the same and I hope to catch up next week.  I am conscious that I need to provide feedback to some of my students and that this has been delayed more than I wanted to because of this trip. I must do this my top priority now that I am back.

Of all the readings this week, one phrase by Scott (2003) stayed with me and reminded me of  something very important:

“Taking what looks like a potentially relevant, desirable, and feasible change idea and making it work in practice is by far the hardest part of quality improvement and innovation process.” (p. 70)

At times, I have to admit, I am impatient with myself and want everything to work first time because I feel so excited when I have an idea and am curious to find out how it will work in practice. Then disappointment fills me when it doesn’t work and criticism arrives… but I do pick up myself again and more forward. I have managed to do this so far. In the whole process, however, I need to remember to see my ideas more like work-in-progress material and understand that ideas need time to develop into concepts and become something useful and of value. But I think I also need to tell students that this is the case and that we are learning on this together.

Roche (2003) notes that “The change readiness period must be taken seriously, so that transitional stages such as denial, resistance and exploration are accepted as normal reactions to change” (p. 174). Is this easily done? It is a useful perspective to have and one that will help you overcome some of the barriers we are facing when doing risky things. All  criticisms is of course useful, even the most extreme one! We learn by doing and from making mistakes and observing others mistakes too. The person who doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t usually do much… this is a fact. And the more we do the more mistakes we make, this is another fact. Roche (2003) states “Change comes from seeing possibilities, creating opportunities from mistakes and unexpected experiences (often negative ones).” (p. 173) To contextualise this a bit, I guess, I could mention briefly the creativity game idea that I have tried in various settings for a few years now and I kept making changes to improve it. It was just this semester, however, when this idea matured and turned into a real concept. The “Sell your bargains” game. There were loads of bits woolly (too woolly?), before defining more clearly the pedagogical rationale and I think for the very first time all players recognised the value of this game for their practice.

A thought from Moodle follows which was posted in response to somebody else’s posting. These few lines made me think a bit more, a bit deeper and in different directions too.

“In my experience many educational developers feel passionately about what they do, but this can be evidenced either as trying to persuade by sharing that passion – heart- or blinding with evidence, theories (brute logic?) – mind. or both. I like your description of being there at the right time and asking the right questions – can be difficult to know what is the right question sometimes.


References

Rose, E. And Buckley, S. (1999) Self-directed Work Teams, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Alexandria (VA).

Roche, V. (2003) Being an agent of change, in: Kahn, P. and Baume, D. (eds.) A guide to Staff & Educational Development, Oxon: Routledge.

Scott, G. (2003) Effective Change Management in Higher Education, EDUCAUSE review, Nov/Dec. Pp. 64-80.

 

some things to think about… #CMC11 MOOC

Is this a bad thing? Always?

Is this a bad thing? Always?

Do we all thrive in such environments?

Do we all thrive in such environments?

Who decides?

Who decides?

I am not a sheep, but I can be one, if I want to

I am not a sheep, but I can be one, if I want to. What about you?

If I see value in a connection, I will go for it... will I?

If I see value in a connection, I will go for it... will I?

I want to learn. What about you?

I want to learn. What about you?

Walls are in our minds, sometimes they are real. Sometimes?

Walls are in our minds, sometimes they are real. Sometimes?

connections, connectivity

connections, connectivity

interaction, interactivity

interaction, interactivity

For, or as learning? How?

For, or as learning? How?

Knowledge and information - interchangeable?

knowledge and information - interchangeable?

Some things to think about ;o)

... some things to think about ;o)