Wow, it’s been such a busy month. Between work and personal commitments, doing the holiday baking and decorating, gift shopping, trip planning, it’s no wonder folks get stressed at this time of year. So, I’m looking forward to a few days off where I can kick back and reflect on the year that’s been and the new one still to come.
From Steven and I at the Douglas Educators Network, we wish you health, happiness, and hope this holiday season. Check back with us in January. The new year awaits!
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.
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.
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.
The open education community is abuzz about open pedagogy. While not losing sight of the importance of using, revising, and creating open educational resources, many are thinking more about how to open up their teaching and learning practices. But how might we understand what open pedagogy is, and why should we think of it as “open”?
On October 26 from 1:30-3:00pm in the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Douglas College in New Westminster, Christina Hendricks will discuss some possible ways to answer those questions, while pointing out that there are multiple legitimate ways to do so. She will also provide examples of how faculty and students are participating in open pedagogical practices in BC and elsewhere.
All students, faculty, and staff are welcome at this event. Please REGISTER here.
How is it that I am precisely at the perfect distance to the sun, so that the moon exactly eclipses the sun?[i] And the sun warms but does not destroy this place?
Where is the closest place I can walk on the earth with bare feet? Drink from a pure stream? Slip into a clean lake or river?
When was the last time I scared a mountain lion with only my voice and fierceness away from its prey and saved a little dog?[ii]
Who lived here before me? And who lived here before them? How far down would I have to dig to find the ancestors of this place? What did they find to eat, only here? Wrap themselves in, from only here? Create shelters from only here? Heal their wounds and ailments, from only here? Remember their predecessors to this place?
How will my successors appreciate what I have done here? How I have lived? What love I have received and given here?
How am I to respect, appreciate, and honour this place?
I wrote this reflecting on several overlapping themes in my work and personal life. I am participating in an Indigenous Studies Working Group at Douglas College, in conversation with friends and family who live in semi-remote rural places, and working on developing a new program that strives to use digital tools to enable instructors and students to co-create place-based learning objects that reference local history, environmental concerns, economics and vernacular sensibilities. I am interested in collaborating with others with similar interests…
by Steven Bishop
[i] As relayed during a conversation with Dr. Paul Jacobson (Jacobson, 2017)
[ii] As relayed during a conversation with Susan Aldridge, who did exactly this during a walk on her land in the Slocan Valley. (Aldridge, 2017)
[iii] “All my relations” is a saying used to express awareness of the interconnected nature of the universe. We hear it often as part of Indigenous welcoming to British Columbia post-secondary events. “It also reinforces that everyone and everything has a purpose, is worthy of respect and caring, and has a place in the grand scheme of life.” (Kaminski, 2013)
A meta-cognitive look at creating an audio-recording based assignment
Episode II – 8:19 minutes
After our initial meeting, Lisa Smith and I met for a second time with a more decided perspective on how to proceed with creating an audio-recording-based assignment for her Gender and Youth Cultures course. We are capturing the design process with these recordings and our hope is that other instructors and designers will benefit from our work when considering or creating similar assignments. One additional benefit we have noticed is the reflective nature of reviewing what we discussed while editing. Even if we weren’t going to share these recordings, it has been a valuable experience in understanding dialogue, the other person, and how we communicate ideas.
Have a vision for your project. Is it a high concept, short and artful film, or are you wanting to provide practical information? Instructor or topic introductions, how-to instructions, and concept explanations can be effectively produced with lower production values, less time and cost if a few simple guidelines are considered.
Assess your resources
If you have an in-house production team, take advantage of their skill, knowledge, experience and access to equipment and software, especially if high production values are needed.
If you don’t have concierge-level support for your media projects, determine if training is available for a do-it-yourself approach. We have a new Ed Media program at Douglas College that does exactly this. There are also video-tutorial courses on Lynda.com to help get up-to-speed with pre-production, production and post-production tasks for media projects.
Our job is to work with faculty to integrate educational technology in their courses. That means training with a capital T, as well as running special events (guest speakers, symposiums, webinars, etc.). But connecting with them is no easy feat.
A little background…
We follow college protocols, writing stories and events for our Intranet, but many instructors are simply not logging into the site. So, we’ve opted to write pleading emails to the Admin Officers, Chairs, even the Deans, asking for their support in getting the word out about our training events. Though more successful than relying solely on our Intranet, we still haven’t achieved critical mass. Hey, we’ve even gone old school, designing posters with catchy graphics to attract people. And, yes, we’re blogging too…
I’ve gotta’ tell you: it’s more than a little deflating to have two people show up for a planned event when 30 were expected. Considerable energy is spent strategizing, writing, and promoting training opportunities. And, it isn’t just us. It seems that most PSE departments in support roles are all trying to reach their respective audiences, but with less-than-stellar results.
So, here’s what we worked out:
We’re adopting a concierge model. Instead of trying to reach out to the greatest number of faculty possible, we’re focusing on those who approach us for help: consulting with them about their course design, discussing desired learning outcomes, reviewing the ed tech options, then designing learning objects that match those outcomes. These same faculty are asked to present their experiences to other interested instructors, forming a group of faculty mentors.
“This is nothing new,” you’ll say, and you’re right. But we are looking at faculty mentors through a new lens to assist them with their goals, while at the same time promote our agenda, which is ultimately connecting with faculty. A truly symbiotic relationship is what we’re after.
Since this model is still very much in its infancy in our department, we’ll keep you posted on our results. Fingers crossed!
In painting, “fine art” involves formal training, skillful technique, and the use of perspective, refined colour palette and subtle representations. Naive art might lack many or all of these qualities, and has been judged as “technologically primitive” by Western academia. It is also recognized as authentic, simple and honest. And it can be impactful. Consider the work of Henri Rousseau, a particularly influential naive artist.
What does painting have to do with educational media?
The analogy draws attention to the value of video and audio educational media created by amateurs. Many instructors I have met do not have formal training, or the resources to get formal training in creating video and audio learning objects. Help from professional media experts may be difficult to obtain. Subject matter experts are often challenged to create multiple ways to represent their knowledge to students.
In the recording industry, a fair amount of recorded creative work is not used in the final product. In education, unused video or audio recorded content may represent poor planning at best and wasted time and resources in the worst case. Time and budget-constrained educators have to be creative, competent and efficient to make the best use of opportunities to communicate their knowledge to others via video or audio recordings.
Instructors are also in a position to use multiple means of representation (the first principle of Universal Design for Learning) to convey meaning to students, and to allow the same for student assignment submission. Adopting an on-the-ground, essential approach to media production can be an effective way to encourage alternate modes of expression.
The next post in this series offers a few ideas from our recent experience to support the creation of simple, artful, and impactful recordings for educational purposes.