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?”

Place-based learning – a few questions

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Where am I?

What is the latitude and longitude of this place?

How far above the earth am I suspended?

Where does this water come from?

How is the coolness provided here?

Where does the warmth come from?

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?

Who are all my relations in this place?[iii]

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)

 

Podcast Pedagogies

Presentation2

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.

Listen to the conversation

The resources mentioned in the recording include:

Podcasting – A Teaching with Technology Paper by Ashley Deal, Carnegie Mellon University June 4, 2007
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

Gender and Youth Cultures Campus Culture Podcast Project Assignment Guideline Fall 2017

Listen to Episode I – Exploring the possibility of creating a podcast-based assignment

Continue reading “Podcast Pedagogies”

The difference between film-making and video

veeterzy-98988
Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

(Part two of Naive Art for Educational Media)

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.

If you have little time for planning with experts or training opportunities, all is not lost. You can resort to a naïve art approach to video and audio recordings. Well, maybe not too naïve, as you’ll see from the following suggestions.  Continue reading “The difference between film-making and video”

Naïve Art for Educational Media

Media Easy Wins – Part one

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.

Gypsy-dream

By Henri Rousseau – La zingara addormentata, Public Domain, Created: Dec 31 1896

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.

An ISW-Collaboration Classroom-Blackboard Mash Up!

The three-day version of the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) has mixed blessings: although time efficient for busy instructors, it doesn’t allow as much time as longer versions for transmitting information and developing familiarity with the lesson-planning resources provided. Instructors get going on Day 1 delivering their mini-lesson to peers.Two affordances proved beneficial in helping develop a convivial environment without feeling rushed in the process. We used a Blackboard course to provide advance knowledge of the lesson-planning model, the feedback process and some foundational theory for the workshop. An “Introduce Yourself” discussion forum helped participants learn a bit about each other, and get to a deeper engagement level right away.This was the first ISW in the new flexible learning space, the Collaboration Room (S0620 at the New Westminster campus). The ability to reconfigure the room helped us easily set up several learning environments:

  • The eClassroom setting for conventional lecture mode (with the added feature of being able to see the presentation on a rear monitors if desired).
  • A central round table for shared discussion.
  • Two areas to demonstrate content, concepts, and tools.
  • Three interactive monitor areas for participants to present their lessons, and allow participants to shift smoothly between stations.
  • A library: a resource and book area.

Continue reading “An ISW-Collaboration Classroom-Blackboard Mash Up!”

Serendipity Strikes

Open-GroundHave you ever started going in a direction, and something completely unexpected, valuable and delightful popped up? This can be a transformative experience.

It started when a few faculty and staff were in a lively conversation about student interest (or lack of interest) in innovative learning environments. The discussion was mostly opinion, with some research references thrown in. We needed something more to sustain our inquiry into “what students want”.

And then we discovered an article that changed our direction. In What Learners Want , Ross Laird, Ph.D. writes about his experience spending a full day with 20 diverse university learners at different stages along their educational paths “…talking about the kinds of learning environments and experiences that work best for them. With great candor and enthusiasm, the learners worked together to craft their vision of a contemporary learning environment.”

We started meeting people who were familiar with his book Grain of Truth. We became more aware of his work with indigenous groups, addiction issues (including technology addiction), and the Amazon Field School. We learned about his interests, accomplishments, and educational contributions. A new direction took shape, and interest in bringing Ross to Douglas College grew.

Each time we’ve met with Ross, we have been inspired, entertained, and stimulated to hear more. With support from individual faculty members, the Learning Technology Steering Committee, Academic Technology Services, and funding from the College Wide Faculty Development fund, we’re thrilled that Ross facilitated a series of well-attended sessions at Douglas College. We’re excited about the emerging community of practice that has met several times since those sessions, around the educational themes Ross brought to us with his work, including:

  • Emotional safety
  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Character development
  • Facilitation skills
  • Mentorship

Related content: Storming the Ivory Tower: A Workshop on Transforming Post-Secondary Education (notes, slides and recordings from the Ross Laird sessions at Douglas College)

to be continued…