Archive

Post-secondary Education

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Do you remember your very first day?

 

This weekend is move-in time for first year university students living in residence. When my daughter was small, I couldn’t even fathom the day when she flew from her “nest”. It all seemed so impossibly far away, and now here we are on the brink of independence – both hers and mine. Mentioning this impending event to friends and colleagues evokes a gush of memories about embarking on post-secondary education. We are instantly transported back to a transition marked by excitement, trepidation and absolute freedom. Selecting courses, finding classrooms, drinking a lot of coffee, and making lifelong friends. There was some learning there too, as I recall.

All these years later, I can’t recall the advice that my parents no doubt gave me prior to my first year at university. I felt pretty sure I had things figured out, and what I didn’t know I was keen to discover for myself. But the impetus to impart one’s hard-won wisdom is irresistable, so here are my key messages to you, my daughter, as you commence an incredible journey:

  • Be grateful. The fact that your main job in post-secondary education is to learn carries enormous privilege and obligation. People literally risk their lives to get an education. For many in our world it is out of reach. Learn as much as you can and make a positive difference.
  • Keep an open mind. You might think you’ve settled on a path, but look to the left and right as you travel – there could be other options and opportunities that you never imagined for yourself.
  • Keep an open mind about friendships too. The person sitting next to you may be far outside others you’ve encountered and known (and they might be thinking the same about you), but you might find in them an essential part to who you will become.
  • Read the course readings, even if they’re hard and boring. Not only will you learn stuff, you’ll also learn discipline. Sometimes life involves reading hard, boring stuff – the challenge is in transforming it into accessible, engaging, transformational stuff. Alchemy with your mind.
  • Be your real, true self. High school doesn’t generally encourage this, so now is the chance that every high school student has been waiting for.
  • Join clubs. OK, I admit I didn’t do this myself as an undergraduate, but I really wish I had.
  • Ask for help. We all need help, with just about everything. Ask your friends, your professors, the student services people…basically anyone. And it probably doesn’t need saying, but you can always ask your mom. Any time of the day or night.
  • Oh, and also have fun. Actually I don’t need to include that as part of my advice because you will do that anyway. You won’t be able to not do it. You are going to redefine the word fun.

 

In short: fly free, grow your mind and heart, enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to call home.

 

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The Future of (Online) Learning

 

I’ve been teaching a fully online graduate course for the past 13 years. It’s been interesting seeing the cutting-edge become mainstream (with some caveats). MOOCS have made their mark on the learning landscape, and the democratization of education is blossoming. Are exemplars like Khan Academy, TEDEd, YouTubeEDU and iTunesU the disruptive innovation for higher education?

These are not easy times for bricks-and-mortar institutions, grappling with a challenging funding climate and a competitive enrollment landscape, alongside student-as-consumer expectations of outstanding service (and sometimes grades). If that’s not enough, a massive cohort of faculty and administration who grew up in “traditional” classrooms come with a decidedly instructivist slant despite our constructivist intentions (I include myself in this). Maybe that’s why most classrooms are still oriented to a podium at the front, even in new builds. What happens when the hyper-connected, online-all-the-time iGen takes over?

Predicting the future is perilous, and I’m no fortune-teller. But my read on the state of higher education leads me to posit the following, “VUCA“-informed, present-vs-future, higher learning trends for 2015 and beyond:

 

Then and Now Up-and-Coming
Instructor-generated content (Instructivism, Constructivism) User-generated content (Paragogy, Heutagogy)
Lesson Plans Gamification
Episodic assessment (occurs throughout a course) Embedded assessment (assessment is “in the water”)
eLearning mLearning, PLNs, Virtual World
Multimedia Immersive multimedia
Siloed Content APIs
Same content delivered to all learners Prescriptive (customized) content
Opaque Transparent
Learning feels like work Learning feels like play

 

 

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“At the edge of the digital ocean”

 

A recent publication titled Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education (DiCerbo & Behrens, 2014) talks about our transition from “digital desert” (limited, ephemeral and fragmented data collection systems and processes) to “digital ocean” (massive and exponentially-increasing reservoirs of data). Our day-to-day actions and movements generate a continuous exhaust cloud of data. The ‘Internet of Things’ will make data-gathering even more ubiquitous, personal and pervasive. How can this inform our granular understanding of students’ learning processes and learning needs?

Looking into the future digital ocean, we can imagine schools and individual learners harnessing ubiquitous and naturally generated data to support decisions about learning. In this emerging space…learning is personalised based on learners’ knowledge states and trajectories, and the creators of the systems improve them over time as data helps them to understand the processes of learning. (DiCerbo & Behrens, 2014:2)

DiCerbo and Behrens predict a shift from episodic, individual assessments that are disconnected from ‘real life’, toward seamlessly integrating assessment with learning processes. Learning is inherently collaborative, non-linear, self-determined. A new ‘language’ of assessment means harnessing “data in the wild”:

The digital ocean “is a world in which data are a side-effect, not the primary goal of interesting and motivating activity, and perhaps a world where ‘testing’ is a rare event, but assessment is ‘in the water.” (DiCerbo & Behrens, 2014:15)

The idea of assessment being “in the water” is, in many ways, the killer app for educators, given how hard it is to develop valid tools to measure authentic learning. For example, are multiple choice exams really relevant to 21st Century education and learning? They’re still widely used, and even when we use alternate assessment tools, we’re used to segregating learning from assessment. A data-saturated learning environment makes us uneasy, especially if we’ve grown up in the digital desert. It’s like seeing the real ocean for the very first time: beautiful and scary.

Of course, insitutional Learning Management Systems already harvest data about how often students log into the online environment, what they do, how much time they spend, and how much they contribute. Imagine extending this to seeing how students engage with the e-textbooks used in our courses? We can look at what text they ‘highlight’, where they go back and review, which pages are electronically marked and which are ignored, and how long it takes students to read a page. Game-based environments offer even richer data about time on task, interconnectedness and collaboration, persistence, and motivation. What’s ahead? The classroom is a computer. The lived environment is a computer. Everything we touch and do is a data point.

Right now, our systems are largely disconnected and siloed. But once they work together to present rich and textural understanding of student activities we are really into some serious conversations about ethics and boundaries related to privacy and data ownership. We also run the risk of conflating data with meaningful knowledge, and designing learning environments driven by data-gathering imperatives, versus students’ learning needs.

Like any good discussion paper, DiCerbo and Behrens pose more questions than they answer. That’s a good thing, because this might be right at the top of the education field’s most critical dialogues. Our feet are wet and the tide is coming in.

 

 

Related:

educateria: Higher education’s biggest challenge? 

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Educating the heart

 

It’s the end of another academic year, and summer stretches tantalizingly forward. A good opportunity to reflect on the past year’s teaching practice, what went well, and what can be improved.

Here is a wise metric to guide reflective practice on teaching and learning:

 

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

                                                                                                                         – Aristotle

 

Well-written learning objectives tend to be concrete and measurable, guided by what students should be able to do at the end of a course. But it’s equally important that we not lose sight of supporting students’ learning how to be.

Compassion might just be the most important course learning objective, regardless of our discipline or field of practice…and the most important life learning objective?

This summer, I will be thinking about how to more intentionally integrate compassion as an overarching and foundational objective in my own teaching – and learning.

 

 

 

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“Twitter 101” for Academic Managers

 

At today’s Academic Managers Meeting, we spent some time talking talking about the value of Twitter in education, and why academic leaders – including faculty and staff – are finding Twitter to be a valuable tool to help make us smarter and to strengthen relationships. Although many of us (myself included) are actively using Twitter, an equal or greater number are less enthusiastic for a variety of reasons. These include concerns related to professional boundaries, time, content, relevance and general comfort level. All of which are valid.

Here are some key take-aways from today’s dialogue, reflecting the diverse ways that Twitter can help us to realize added value for ourselves, our colleagues, our institutions and our students.

 

1. Don’t judge Twitter by your first impressions. To new users, Twitter content can appear pretty mundane. As one of my colleagues pointed out, “Do I really care what you had for breakfast?” The quality of what you see in your Twitter feed is directly related to the personal/professional relevance of the people and organizations you follow. This leads to Tip #2:

 

2. Curate your Twitter feed. Where can you find great content? Check out the people that your colleagues and others follow. That’s like finding related research literature in the bibliographies of highly relevant articles. Search out academic superstars – in your and others’ fields – and follow them. If someone follows you on Twitter, chances are you have common interests – follow them back. In short, build your own personal learning network.

 

3. Be yourself. Although it’s tempting to separate “public Twitter” from “private Twitter”, this may not be a great idea for a couple of reasons. For one, social media thrives on authenticity. We most want to engage with people when they are genuine and real. Also, since Twitter is public, anything you Tweet should be consonant with how you project yourself as a person and a professional.

 

4. Drink when you’re thirsty. Twitter (like social media broadly) is a gushing torrent. (So is email for that matter – but that’s a different topic). When you’re thirsty, you drink enough to quench your thirst – same goes for Twitter. The thousands of tweets that you don’t see don’t matter – there’s lots more where they came from, and lots get repeated anyway. Just dip your cup into the stream whenever you have the time or inclination.

 

5. Call people by their names. Just like IRL (in real life), using peoples’ Twitter handles (user names) gets their attention and is more likely to evoke a response. If you’re sharing a link/observation/quote/question via Twitter, consider including @Person’sName. See #4 (above) for why this is especially helpful.

 

6. Show your work. People are generally more interested in your process than the polished, perfect product. Twitter is a quick way to communicate what you’re working on, where you’re getting stuck, and the solutions or resources that you find. Thank you Austin Kleon.

 

7. Give props. Students and colleagues are tweeting their own and others’ accomplishments, events and stories. RT (retweet) them! Click on the little star to favorite these tweets! Reply to these tweets. Because it’s so visible and public, Twitter is a powerful way to show that we care and that we’re listening.

 

8. Don’t fear #hashtags. Hashtags are a way of organizing tweets by subject area, and make your tweets searchable. There is no secret code. There are no rules for hashtags. If you make up your own as you go along, chances are a million other people are using the same hashtag. One important caveat – if in doubt, search your hashtag to make sure that the content you’re #-ing is consistent with your message.

 

9. Explore the terrain. There are a host of resources on how to use Twitter effectively. Search around, and make sure to tweet what you find.

 

10. Stake your claim. Depending on how commonly-used your name is, you might need to get creative to claim your personal Twitter handle. Plus, check out examples of effective Twitter bios to compose yours – in 160 characters or less. Hashtags are optional, but why wait?  #myfirsttweet

 

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education = meta-learning + change

 

I’ve been looking at the 2015 NMC Horizon Report: Higher Education Edition, which charts the biggest near- and longer-term trends across the post-secondary landscape. One of the key directions is advancing highly flexible and innovative learning environments..

With change comes challenge. According to the NMC Report, post-secondary institutions will struggle with how to create these flexible, customizable and personalized learning environments (as students increasingly want and demand). Related challenges include: teaching complex thinking in the context of digital information proliferation, and addressing/resolving competing models of what higher education should/does look like.

The mainstreaming of radically student-centred learning represents a massive disruption to the traditional “broadcast” model of education (one instructor + many students). Just as one-to-many “Web 1.0” gave way to many-to-many social sharing, collaboration and self-curated content consumption (“Web 2.0”), will higher ed institutions see a similarly tectonic shift?

And yet…moving toward student-centred and customizable learning may bring us closer to education in its truest sense. Carl Rogers, the influential humanistic psychotherapist, education theorist and founder of client-centred therapy, stated:

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

Learning how to learn – the capacity to curate and critically reflect on new information and knowledge – is especially crucial at a time when ‘data never sleep’ (check out this infographic showing what happens during one minute on the Internet).

And, at its heart, all learning is really about change.

In other words: education = meta-learning + change.

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Order’s up!

 

Educators agree that it’s good practice to foster scaffolded learning. We want individuals and groups to incrementally build on progressively more complex and sophisticated knowledge and skills. And we typically ‘serve it up’ over a multi-week course, comprised of two or three hour classes. For several years. Higher education is the equivalent of fine gourmet dining.

At the same time, a gushing torrent of digital information makes accessing ‘just in time’ learning seem attainable in short bursts of focused content. Interest, relevance and engagement are measured by clicks and eyeballs. If higher ed is a fancy restaurant, then YouTube is fast food.

The two seem diametrically opposed, but I’m thinking that YouTube has some good lessons for teaching and learning in higher education, such as:

  • Viral is good (we want learning to replicate and spread)
  • Every minute is precious – make each one count
  • Keep things moving
  • If it’s complicated, break it down
  • Surround the learning experience with lots of opportunities (banner ads!) for further, self-directed exploration
  • And…make it totally accessible to anyone and everyone.

This last is a challenge when higher education is very much a business (see Richard Wellan’s book review: Grappling with Academic Capitalism in Canadian Universities, reflecting “the logic of commercialization and corporate models on the behavior of essentially public institutions”). Similarly, a fabulous and expensive dinner out is a luxury few can afford.

It occurs to me that lots of fancy restaurants are putting artisanal versions of  ‘fast food’ basics on their menus. I wonder what my courses would look like if I were to break them apart and YouTube-ify them? (I’m not talking about MOOCs – I’m talking “wiki-MOOCs”).

Food for thought.

 

 

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Six ways to make your online course even more awesome

 

I love classroom teaching. It’s hard to beat the opportunity to connect with a group of learners face-to-face. But just as there are many ways and experiences of classroom teaching, online teaching is every bit as variable and demands some unique strategies to create engaging and transformative learning environments. Plus, anyone who has ever designed and taught an online course can attest to how time-intensive online teaching can be. How can we structure a positive and engaging course climate while also finding ways to make more efficient use of our time as faculty?

A few months ago I came across a delightful little book by artist Austin Kleon, titled Show your Work. Kleon’s basic premise is that our internal creative process can be even more helpful and engaging than the polished, finished product of our work. In that spirit, here are my top six ‘trade secrets’ of online teaching, gleaned from 12+ years as faculty for a Masters-level online social work course.

 

 

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The most important things that students want to know are: what the expectations are, how to access the course, where to get help if they need it, and how they can succeed. I make a point of addressing these questions by mobilizing multiple communication channels: A detailed “Welcome” email to all registered students sent out approximately one month before the course start date; “Welcome” announcement (the first thing they’ll see when they access the course for the first time); “Welcome” post in the small group discussion forums; “Welcome” video uploaded to the course materials repository; and an outline of “Frequently Asked Questions” in the Course Syllabus itself. People access and attend to information selectively – this way I make sure that the important information cuts through the “static” of students’ other, competing priorities, and I also get fewer panicked emails and phone calls in the first weeks of the course.

 

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Institutional Learning Management Systems tend not to be the most intuitive or visually appealing. I create folders for each week’s content, populated with the same kinds of materials in the exact same sequence:

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This offers a sense of continuity to the online classroom – analogous to holding a face-to-face course in the same room every week.

 

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We live in an online culture of continuous and immersive sharing and collaboration. The trouble is, as course faculty, I’m not able to be accessible 24/7. It’s important to be explicit about how often I check in to the course (typically 6 days per week in the first two weeks of the course, and 3-4 days per week thereafter). I also let students know that I don’t always respond to emails on week ends. I do make a point of responding to emails/phone calls the same day or within 24 hours.

Even better, I ask students to share their questions in the small group discussion forums in a new thread titled “Question for Marilyn”. This accomplishes three things: (a) Other students can benefit from seeing the question and my response; (b) This cuts down on my having to respond over and over to the same question from different individuals; (c) If I only have a few minutes to dip into the course, I can quickly see questions and get to them as a first priority.

 

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Incorporating a short video of myself at the beginning of each “class” (weekly module) helps to establish instructional immediacy, a key component of effective online teaching and learning. We’re not talking high production values, but just helping students to put a face and personality to my name helps foster a sense of connectedness and engagement.

It’s also good to mix things up and harness the rich array of web based applications and resources that are out there: videos, websites, blogs, news aggregators, and more. I also encourage students to find and share their online discoveries.

 

1 Online Teaching Trade Secrets PUB

This took me a shockingly long time to figure out. I am embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until 2012 that I began to personally archive all of my postings in the group discussion forums, and I now use these as a base from which to continuously adapt and reframe year over year. Although I refresh and update the course content every year, many of the same issues, discussion points, questions and reflections come up. Having a resource archive to draw from has immeasurably enriched my own contributions to our online conversations.

 

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This is no big secret, but paying close attention to the affective dimension is key to learning and teaching. The majority of online courses at this time are still largely text-based, so I pay special attention to the nuances and emotional tone in all of my communications with students, whether via email or in the course discussion board. I also encourage students to reach out to me by phone or video chat in real time when they get stuck or more complex issues arise.

 

Check out the complete slide deck here.

 

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What does it take to be a wizard inside and outside the classroom?

 

1. Respond to student queries ASAP

For good or ill, people increasingly expect (and value) prompt replies to their questions or concerns, especially via email. And students seem to equate an instructor’s response time with instructor engagement and caring. A speedy reply is not always possible, and email communication can be delicate at times, but I try to live by the “24 hour or less” rule and interestingly, students make particular note of how helpful this responsiveness is to them in comments on the course evaluations.

 

2. Overcommunicate

Students’ lives, like ours, are complicated, busy, and sometimes chaotic. People don’t always attend to our verbal communications or instructions, and/or email, and/or written (print) communication, and/or online announcements. Similarly, the more channels that we can mobilize to share information with our students about upcoming assignments, due dates, key information or course resources, the greater the chance that our message will filter through the “white noise” of multiple, competing pressures and priorities.

 

3. Listen carefully

When students express an issue or concern, chances are –  especially if we’ve been teaching for many years – we’ve heard it (or something very much like it) before. And we’ve also responded many times before. It’s sometimes easy to forget that for this student with this issue it might be the very first time, and every person and every situation is unique. Take the time to listen carefully with a goal of understanding.

 

4. Provide the back-story

I’ve found that when students feel like an assignment, an academic decision, a policy, or a course expectation is unfair or unwelcome, it’s usually because they’re not satisfied that there is a good rationale behind it. The trick is, how to communicate this without coming across as defensive, or worse, officious? I’ve found that the elicit-provide-elicit framework in Motivational Interviewing has been helpful in providing information to students: (a) elicit the student’s understanding of why they think I am proceeding in a certain way; (b) provide a brief explanation from my perspective; (c) elicit the student’s response (“What do you make of that? How does this fit for you?”).

 

5. Get excited

Everything in the world is inherently interesting. And everything in the world can be made incredibly boring. If I’m passionate about what I’m teaching, chances are some of that will rub off.

 

6. Don’t work harder than your students

Learning is active. It takes effort, involvement and application. If I’m at the front of the room lecturing and the group is passively listening, who’s working harder? It’s a challenge to create dynamic learning activities that engage students in co-constructing meaning, wrestling with new ideas, and trying out new skills. Admittedly, high quality curriculum design generally takes more work at the front end – so perhaps it’s more accurate to say “Don’t work harder than your students in the classroom”.

 

And yes, highly effective teachers have more than these six habits – but they’re a pretty good place to start.

 

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We all go to school. Every day.

 

Tuition costs are highly variable, and sometimes paid a long time after.

Our teachers are many.

We’re teachers too.

 

Where is your classroom today?

 

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No one likes to feel incompetent, but how else can we learn?

Last week I had a conversation with a student (not one of mine) who approached me because she was struggling with an essay she had to write. The obvious question is “Why not go to your instructor to talk about this?” In response, she described how the author’s key points in the literary theory text that she was referencing were hard to grasp, and raised more questions than they answered. The material was so challenging that she was having trouble even framing clear questions. Because she prided herself on being a bright and engaged student, she felt like her inability to wrap her mind around this complex and highly abstract material would colour her instructor’s regard for her abilities. In other words, she valued his positive approval and she didn’t want him to conclude that maybe she wasn’t that smart after all.

Are you thinking “high achiever”?!

In the midst of our discussion two things became apparent:

1. Whether as instructors, managers or supervisors, we invariably tell students/staff/clinicians to come to us when they’re in difficulty. I’m certain that the instructor in this case told his students on numerous occasions that he’d be glad to connect with them outside of class.

2. What we don’t always do is lay the groundwork to make it possible for others to come to us with their questions, concerns or issues. This example made me wonder…what more could the instructor have added to create a climate in which students felt 100% safe to risk looking foolish, clueless, unthinking (and all of the other labels we often apply to ourselves when we’re in the weeds). And what more could I be doing in this area?

It’s a human trait to want others to think well of us. Yet paradoxically, it’s hard to advance our knowledge and skills without venturing into the realm of not-knowing. Our willingness to shine a light on our weaknesses or knowledge/skill gaps might just be the biggest determinant of success!

The next time I hear myself say, “Please feel free to come to me with any questions that you have”, I’m going to add something along the lines of:

“It can be hard to shine a light on things you’re not so good at, but how else do you get good at them? If you’re feeling less-than-competent that’s fantastic – it means you’re learning! What can I do to make you feel totally at ease approaching me?”

Of course, creating a climate of mutual trust takes more than a couple of sentences – it’s a way of being, communicating unconditional positive regard and respect. But making a point to explicitly affirm the value of positive risk-taking might help tip the balance when others are struggling.

Now back to the student – as she talked more about her ideas and interpretations of what she had been reading, she was able to answer most of her own questions. And then I shared my own learning (see above) with her.

Another good lesson: we all possess a powerful innate wisdom. And we all benefit when a caring other takes the time to evoke it.

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What do I want to be when I grow up? For a large proportion of high school students, now is when that question gets real.

 

 

Which program? Which college or university? What are the admission requirements and will my grades be good enough? Applying to undergraduate and graduate degree or diploma programs can be stressful, especially the dreaded “Personal Statement” in which applicants must respond to a series of questions in 3000 characters or less.

For example:

What makes a good citizen?

How will you make the best of your experience at this institution?

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

 

These are big questions, and it can be daunting to frame a concise, compelling and well-written response. Yet the Personal Statement is a golden opportunity to differentiate oneself from the rest of the pack. Here are some ‘best practice’ tips to get you started.

  1. If the inspiration just isn’t coming, start typing anyhow. Don’t judge or polish – just write from your heart and see what comes out. You will yield some nuggets of gold to work with, and better yet, you will have made a start! (sometimes the hardest part is starting)
  2. Draft your responses in a text file instead of typing directly into the online form. What if you were to accidentally press “submit” before you’re done? Better to write, edit, spell-check, word count and then copy/paste online when you’re ready.
  3. Ask someone else to look over your responses and offer suggestions/feedback. Just make sure that your own authentic voice shines through. And, this probably goes without saying, but under no circumstances ‘borrow’ (i.e. plagiarize) content from online or other sources.
  4. Check online for the institution’s Mission Statement, and take this into account in framing and tailoring your responses.
  5. Give at least one concrete example from your own experience that illustrates your response to each question. You can draw from past participation in school clubs or sports, hobbies or interests, volunteer work, employment, travel, or books/art/music/poetry that has inspired you. If you have a website, blog or YouTube channel with original content, that might also be worth highlighting. Don’t underestimate or discount the many things that make you special!
  6. Last but not least, stay positive. We don’t always succeed in life the first time we try (or the second, or the third…). I’m inspired by this list of 50 famous people who failed at their first attempts at career success.

Related

The 3 steps to success in school (and life)

Student tips: How to get good grades

Why convocation is #awesome

Stay gold

 

 

 

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A conceptual framework for SoTL offers a map to knowing, valuing and acting

 

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), is, by definition, public versus private, susceptible to peer review and critique, and can be built upon by others (Charbonneau, 2010). But what does SoTL look like? What’s the “roadmap”? A conceptual framework can illuminate and guide how we frame and understand academic scholarship in the context of 21st Century post-secondary teaching and learning.

I’ve been thinking about an integrated framework that incorporates SoTL knowledge, learning and growth, as well as ways of knowing, valuing and acting as academic teachers, learners and scholars. Two recent models seem complementary and enrich one-another when viewed in combination: Randall et al. (2013) focusing on overlapping and dynamic elements of teaching and learning scholarship, and Kereliuk et al. (2013) with a slightly broader conceptualization of 21st Century teacher knowledge.

 

Framework for the Scholarship of (21st Century) Teaching and Learning

SoTL Framework

 

Randall’s original framework represents three overlapping and dynamic elements of teaching and learning scholarship: (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching; (2) learning about one’s teaching; and (3) growth in SoTL. The three domains are represented in a Venn diagram, with points where the domains intersect/overlap. For example, where (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching meets (2) learning about one’s teaching, we see enhanced faculty engagement and motivation. Where (2) learning about one’s teaching meets (3) growth in SoTL we see increased commitment and professional academic/scholarly identity. Where (3) growth in SoTL meets (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching we see concrete SoTL performance and/or action. Finally, the central convergence point of all three domains represents SoTL transformation.

In the integrated model, foundation knowledge (such as teaching skills and digital, research and cross-disciplinary literacies) maps onto the domain of scholarly teaching broadly. Humanistic knowledge (which includes ethical/emotional awareness and diversity competence) corresponds to and enriches the domain of learning about one’s teaching. Finally, meta knowledge (such as creativity and innovation, problem solving and critical reflection, and communication and collaboration across disciplines) relates to faculty growth in SoTL.

I like how, when integrated, this framework affirms multiple and diverse ways of knowing and being.

With all that said, no roadmap is perfect – any GPS user who has been misdirected by the computer navigation guide will attest to that. We are continuously mapping and remapping physical and geographic terrains, and the same holds true for conceptual mapping of the terrains of knowledge, development and application.

A work in progress, like life itself, and our individual and collective learning journeys.

 

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A simple shift in perspective can transform dialogue and engagement

 

Today I got to shake hands with over 300 students. No, it wasn’t convocation – it was kind of the opposite of convocation. It was…the annual College Information Fair.

That’s when hundreds of (mostly) high school students pour into a massive convention centre by the busload, and let loose on aisles of kiosks and pavilions, each promoting specific academic institutions and programs. Some students were 100% clear about their post-secondary journeys, some expressed uncertainty about which school to attend. Others candidly acknowledged that they didn’t have a glimmer of an idea about where they wanted to head after high school. Some were leaning toward a program that wasn’t going to get them to their ultimate career destination, and many were just there to hang out with friends and pick up some free swag.

Last year I approached my role with the primary objective of offering information about the academic programs that I administer. This year, I decided to try a slightly different approach, more in line with motivational interviewing, where the goal is to evoke versus educate. In other words, instead of asking potential students “How can I help you?” / “What would you like to know?”, I opened the conversation with a couple of questions designed to briefly elicit each person’s “big picture” goals before honing in on the specifics of a particular program of study.

Instead of… I asked…
How can I help you? What programs are you interested in?
What would you like to know about Program X? What made you decide that you’re interested in Program X?
What other questions can I help with? Where do you see yourself in terms of your ultimate goal or career?
Here’s some additional information… Can I share how Program X (and/or Y and/or Z) might fit with your goals?

The results were amazing. Because many teenagers aren’t the most voluble conversationalists, our interactions were brief but much more meaningful than the conversations that I held last year. Students were engaged, they felt heard and affirmed, and for many who were unsure about their future, a couple of follow-up questions (“What kinds of courses in high school captured your interest most?” “If you could have any job, what would it be?”) helped them to clarify some possible directions. I also heard some amazing stories and made deeper connections.

And from a purely selfish perspective, at the end of the day I too felt energized. I felt like I contributed more than what’s written in the academic calendar!

 

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