Are you feeling emotionally safe?

Recently we held a workshop at Douglas College titled “Creating emotional safety in learning spaces,” which was facilitated by Leva Lee of BCcampus; Sandra Polushin, CFCS faculty; and Steven Bishop and Hope Miller from the Learning Designer team of Academic Technology Services.

And how did we land on this topic? Well, it started over a year ago when Ross Laird presented a two-day workshop titled “Storming the Ivory Tower.” As one plank of his 10-plank framework, emotional safety is a critical component of teaching the whole person.

Our goal in running this workshop was really to start a dialogue at Douglas College about what emotional safety means and how it impacts each of us in our various learning environments. None of the facilitators professed to being an expert in the field of emotional safety, but they were willing to guide the discussion around this important topic.

To that end, the facilitators used Liberating Structures activities to generate thoughts, ideas, challenges, and solutions, as well as to model how such topics could be tackled in learning environments. Two hours flew by as participants completed three activities–Impromptu Networking, Drawing Monsters, and 1-2-4-All–each activity building on the insights gleaned during group work.

I’m happy to report that feedback from participants was very positive. They liked the format and saw the benefits of using Liberating Structures to delve into topics such as emotional safety.

But, did we succeed in creating an emotionally safe space for participants to come together, share, tackle tough topics, and problem solve? Absolutely.

If, after reading this, you are interested in joining Douglas College’s Whole-Person Community of Practice, please contact either Steven Bishop or Hope Miller.  You can also consider joining the Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group.

What does that have to do with technology?

By Steven Bishop

I am getting better at answering the question, “What you are talking about is important, but what does that have to do with technology?” This question is probably more implied, and probably more personal and internal, than one I am asked by others directly. My job title is Online Learning Designer, a role that involves:

  • supporting faculty with their use of the college’s Learning Management System (LMS)
  • collaborating with educational and informational technology staff to ensure currency and quality of online learning environments
  • instructing faculty in the design and production of online learning objects
  • providing “exceptional client-centered service on a consistent basis to all stakeholder groups”

Depending on what one thinks technology means, there is lots of room for interpretation of the above functions. Because the environment is technological (e.g. digital, computer-based, online), there can be an assumption that the primary work is within prescribed technologies. Ursula Franklin, defines a prescriptive technology as that which “Each step is carried out by a separate worker, or group of workers, who need to be familiar only with the skills of performing that one step. This is what is normally meant by division of labour.” (Franklin, 1990)

Franklin also identifies holistic technology as “…associated with the notion of craft” and involving decisions that can only be made while the work is in process, by the artisan themselves. Holistic technology is endangered in our modern, compliance-based, and prescriptive technological environment, where one misplaced character in a line of code causes failure, and where algorithms decide what information we are fed on our smart phones and computers.

There are a number of reasons why I think a holistic approach to Educational Technology is needed, Continue reading “What does that have to do with technology?”

Creating emotional safety in learning environments: Oct.23, 9-11AM, New West campus, room S0620

What it is

Have you ever been part of a group (in class, online, or in the workplace):

  • Where you didn’t feel comfortable or empowered to participate?
  • Where one group member was being culturally insensitive to another?
  • Where you felt bullied?

We can all relate to having experienced BAD group dynamics. Yet group work is critical to creating effective student engagement, even good work team relations. Learn about some dynamic strategies for promoting and enhancing positive group dynamics that enable everyone to participate!

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:

  • Reveal insights and paths through non-verbal expressions
  • Stop counterproductive activities and behaviours, making space for productive collaboration and innovations
  • Rapidly generate and sift through a group’s most powerful actionable ideas
  • Use Liberating Structures to pave the way for successful group interactions while creating an emotionally safe environment

How we’ll do it

Using Liberating Structures activities, Sandra Polushin, Leva Lee, Steven Bishop, and Hope Miller will facilitate ways to create emotionally safe group spaces to promote effective and successful group interactions.

We will model the importance of creating a trusting group climate in order to promote the work of the group. You, in turn, will be able to use these same techniques in your classroom, online course space, and team meetings.

How we got here

For some background on how we got here, please listen to this short audio clip, which all started with the “Storming the Ivory Tower” event with Ross Laird held last fall.

Who should come

Students, faculty, and staff are ALL welcome at this event, as well as interested parties from other institutions.

Format and details

 Join us for a two-hour workshop in our new Collaboration Room (S0620), New Westminster campus on October 23 from 9-11AM.

Click here for REGISTRATION information.

Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash