Who Gets to be the Boss? Human Values and Technological Disruption

 

Since our April presentation at The Pacific Region LSAC Conference, Cecil Klassen,  Learning Centre Faculty at Douglas College and I revisited the idea of developing dialogue around the impact of technology on our work. Really this is the work of a 21st-century educator (and citizen/human!). We facilitated a participatory workshop at Douglas College on October 1 where we explored contemporary learning environments and the pros and cons of technological affordances. We lightly touched on the philosophical and “futurism” concerns re: technological disruption. For those of us that are interested in deeper dives into the theoretical implications, we recommended starting with the reading provided by Yuval Noah Harari, a leading public intellectual exploring the future of our species in a biotechnical world. The workshop engages educators who perceive a need for balance between pedagogy and technology. We are continuing the conversation with participants and others in our networks.  Watch for an upcoming “solutions” workshop in the new year. This will not be  prescriptive, rather a presentation of solutions people in our various educational circles have discovered or developed to address the wicked questions re: how to best retain our human values in the face of technological disruption. We can then further develop our own local solutions and strategies.

Notes collected during the Oct 1 workshop….

Here are some notes collected during the workshop:

We started with Liberating Structures’ Wicked Questions activity. This activity helps identify the paradoxical elements of working with technology and retaining human values. The purpose is to “…engage everyone in sharper strategic thinking by revealing entangled challenges and possibilities that are not intuitively obvious. [Wicked Questions] bring to light paradoxical-yet-complementary forces that are constantly influencing behaviors and that are particularly important during change efforts. Wicked Questions make it possible to expose safely the tension between espoused strategies and on-the-ground circumstances and to discover the valuable strategies that lie deeply hidden in paradoxical waters.” LS )

Wicked Questions developed during the workshop:

* How is it that the affordances of technology also create obstacles (e.g. threats to confidentiality)?

* How do I accomplish my mission and accommodate tech (when technology creates obstacles)?

* How can I retain confidentiality, and at the same time use social media?

* How is it that I function on team and work in a silo simultaneously?

* How can I maintain privacy and utilize online tools to access the efficiency of tech?

* How is it that we’re prescriptive and simultaneously creative?

* How is it that we are surrounded and inundated by communication, yet still often deeply disconnected to ourselves and as a species?

* How do I build personal relationships with students and promote online learning?

* How do I advocate for students while maintaining their privacy?

* How do we encourage creativity and standardize grading at the same time?

* How can I develop Blackboard expertise and simultaneously retain creative delivery of course material?

* How do we eventually focus on creativity and not let the technology get us bogged down? Develop comfort with technology?

We then took a few Wicked Questions and went into a Discovery and Action Dialogue activity. This activity helps discover, invent, and identify local solutions to ongoing problems. The purpose is to “…make it easy for a group or community to discover practices and behaviors that enable some individuals (without access to special resources and facing the same constraints) to find solutions to common problems. These are called positive deviant (PD) behaviors and practices. DADs make it possible for people in the group, unit, or community to discover by themselves these PD practices. DADs also create favorable conditions for stimulating participants’ creativity in spaces where they can feel safe to invent new and more effective practices. Resistance to change evaporates as participants are unleashed to choose freely which practices they will adopt or try and which problems they will tackle.” LS
With DADs, there are a series of guiding questions – not all questions were answered per group. Here are some examples of what the breakout groups came up with:

What “wicked question” will you discuss? Identify the specific issue to discuss
How to use tech advances without hindering learning experience or leaving learning behind
How do you know when it’s happening?
Student feedback (positive and negative); when performance, understanding and participation is impacted; when students are constrained (e.g. when technology is the medium to communicate)
What are some current successes?
increasing accountability and engagement (e.g. in-class quizzes); grading efficiency (technology allows more time for personal contact); facilitate many facets at once (e.g. complex discussion); ease on student schedule; very outspoken online and maybe not in class; troubleshooting forum (students helping students)
What obstacles do you encounter?
crashing, limited access, unknown blackouts; student comfort and access to technology; students on faster pace with technology

What “wicked question” will you discuss? Identify the specific issue to discuss
How is it that we are accomplishing our mission and addressing technology obstacles and opportunities simultaneously?
How do you know when it’s happening?
Everyday occurrence; quiz in Tophat did not sync with Bb Grade Center; when do you “call it”? and choose to use old school method?; variety of teaching methods/assessments 3. What are some current successes?
Journey North – amazing projects created by students but posted on Bb cannot be shared out; different learners can excel in different forms of creativity; great creativity; beta testing
What obstacles do you encounter?
need for open access; student portfolio tool needed; change takes time and resources; implementation process
Can you identify some local heroes?
Need early adopters who become mentors; great support/resources; work ethic; great team support; persistence; vision; curiosity; calmness
What are your ideas? Brainstorm and dream big
would be great to stop proliferation of new software to truly dig in and learn the potential of the LMS/ IT/Texidium; Optimize technology rather than choosing a new software/system
What are some currently feasible strategies and solutions?
Look at costs for students; Maximize use of existing technologies to save money and to building skill set in new faculty; start earlier and build the course before the course starts; remain flexible – things may not work according to plan; have a backup plan; orienting students to LMS; have a similar look and feel for courses in the same program

What “wicked question” will you discuss? Identify the specific issue to discuss
How do we encourage creativity and standardize grading? How do we open up assignments so students can explore their ideas and creatively represent their knowledge?
How do you know when it’s happening? Varied methods of knowledge representation in response to an assignment
What are some current successes?
courses where there is no grading; challenge standardized grading; shift in thinking – capturing qualitative narratives; pre- and post-assessment to evaluate shift; timing of assignment (once relationships are built)
What obstacles do you encounter?
student backlash; not having examples of possible assignment options; tension between “marks” and “learning”
Can you identify some local heroes?
[A colleague] who has the willingness to take risks, adapt, and learn; to seek out input of others; not doing it in isolation
What are your ideas? Brainstorm and dream big
students assess their own work; inquiry-based learning
What are some currently feasible strategies and solutions?
build up resources of assignments; mentorship around curriculum guidelines
Synthesize and Summarize – Issue – how do we encourage creativity and standardize grading?
What are some currently feasible strategies and solutions? Book Cecil for his time to discuss “Effective Marking”; build up resources of assignments; simplify descriptors on rubrics (e.g. identify the essence of what is wanted)

What “wicked question” will you discuss? Identify the specific issue to discuss
How is it that we are surrounded and inundated by communication, yet still often so deeply disconnected to ourselves and our species? Interactions on social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, email measure of value of a person
How do you know when it’s happening?
Anxiety; inability to cope; withdrawing; not being present in a 1-on-1 conversation; fixed on screen
What are some current successes?
“digital quiet time”; planning intentional face-to-place time; being disciplined; use technology with specific needs in mind (e.g. number of steps taken in the day, meeting reminders…)
What obstacles do you encounter?
social norms set expectations; inability to turn off technology; delayed/timed sending of emails as a solution; fear of face-to-face interactions
Can you identify some local heroes?
[a new-to-post-secondary staff member with a media background] Intentionally trying to reduce the “noise”; reduce anxiety-inducing side effects; self-awareness
Brainstorm (dream big) – shutting down technology during non-business hours; 24/7 counter revolution
What are some currently feasible strategies and solutions?
intention; clarity, mindfulness; disconnect; use/schedule do not disturb settings on mobile devices
Synthesize and Summarize
technology can be a barrier to genuine human interactions; use technology with intent/mindfulness

 

 

 

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