Presence in Online Courses

Sean Michael Morris writes about presence and critical pedagogy in this thoughtful piece. How do we create real presence and community in online courses?

Presence, in other words, is not simply showing up to call on raised hands, answer questions, or deliver Powerpoint lectures. Presence is human, all-too human, because education is human, and learning is a problem that humans must solve. And a teacher’s presence must welcome students’ presence so that the community can begin to answer the questions education demands we address.

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Higher Ed & the Digital

In this short piece in Inside Higher Ed, Laura Pasquini writes about academics and their digital persona.

In postsecondary education, it is becoming increasingly vital to share your work and practice online. Open and digital channels help colleagues solicit advice, seek out support/collaboration, offer free professional development, share information and resources, and learn in networked communities with common interests. Besides developing a digital presence, higher education staff, administrators and scholars are utilizing social media and digital technologies to support their work, add to their professional development, engage with peers, learn in the collective and publicly in digital spaces and places.

Are you Scientifically Literate?

Came across this post on Medium. The author, Ethan Siegel, proposes two questions to determine if you are scientifically literate – and they are not one of those quizzes that ask about science knowledge. The questions are:

  • Are you aware of what the enterprise of science is?

  • Do you have an appreciation for how scientific knowledge, understanding and its applications benefit humanity?

32122848972_9ff2132cccHe goes on to explain what a yes answer means. In sort it means you can’t just dismiss facts/evidence you don’t agree with – as in anti-vaxers, climate change deniers etc … A good read.

Photo Credit: Martin_Heigan Flickr via Compfight cc

Using Ed Tech

This post, by Matt Harris, reflects something I have been telling my students: just throwing technology into a classroom – be it a Smartboard, iPads, or other device – will not improve achievement – it takes a skilled teacher to make that kind of change.

If you read the read the research or take a deep look at “failed” tech programs, you will find a common thread that putting a computer in a student’s hand does nothing to guarantee any learning. It will not, in isolation, give student any addition skills or knowledge by virtue of access to technology, digital resources, or the Internet. There is no PROMISE in Educational Technology.

Data – big or small!

Came across this article from the Washington Post via twitter this morning. An interesting look at big data by Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak. Pasi, from Finland, is known for his writing and speaking on Finland’s education system – and education in general. The argument is that we rely too much on ‘big data’ and need to look at what happens in the classroom – or ‘small data’. The idea of causation vs correlation are examined. I agree that we do need to hear the stories from teachers, students and others in the system. The stories are dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ – which they are, but a lot of positive ideas can come from examining stories in context. I also think we need big data as well – together both forms can act to improve learning for students. I like several passages from the article, but I will use these two;

These data sets, however, often don’t spark insight about teaching and learning in classrooms; they are based on analytics and statistics, not on emotions and relationships that drive learning in schools. They also report outputs and outcomes, not the impacts of learning on the lives and minds of learners.

Big data has certainly proved useful for global education reform by informing us about correlations that occurred in the past. But to improve teaching and learning, it behooves reformers to pay more attention to small data – to the diversity and beauty that exists in every classroom – and the causation they reveal in the present.

Critical Digital Pedagogy

In this article, in one of my favourite journals, Hybrid Pedagogy (and no, not just because I had an article published in it), Sean Michael Morris writes about working in the digital – and in teaching and scholarship. It contains so many wonderful phrases that resonate and make me think. One of my favourite – partly because it is so true for me as well is this,

Right now, the digital is relevant, present, and is that thing that seems to provide the most interesting possibilities and the most contentious challenges in the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning. But it would be a mistake to think that what I do is digital, because what I really do is human.

Take some time and take a read – and check out other articles in this journal, there is lots for contemplation!

Looking with Fresh Eyes

This blog post ( What is Sacred in Education?) by Kelly Tenkely caught my eye – she is writing about her school, Anastasis Academy, in Colorado. She wrote,

When we free ourselves from the perceived rigidity of the system that we are in, and begin with a clean slate, we are free to see things from new perspectives.

Liberate yourselves by giving your minds a ground zero, clean slate, to begin thinking.

The post is interesting as Kelly describes a little about her school and thinking, but the exercise Kelly suggests is a good one. I have been involved with a school division that has allowed teachers to start thinking like this, and as the faculty at my university considers program change, it would be good for us to do as well. So, what is sacred in education to Kelly? … students!