Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Big & little #octel questions

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Who can resist this:

So here is my first attempt at participating..
Activity 0.1: Big and little questions (45 mins – wonder how they came up with this number. My commute is around an hour so let”s see if i can make it)

Please reflect on your work experience and ambitions for developing your teaching. – that sounds like a really big question, and too broad for me to answer right now, so I moved to the next one…

Can you identify the most important question about TEL that matters to you?
Or alternatively do you have a cluster of issues? Or perhaps you’re ‘just browsing’?
– a bit more focused, still broad, but I think I can have a go at it.

It made me think of all sorts of formal/informal learning and teaching experiences, but since i am taking #blendkit2014 to help me develop a blended learning course (prof dev course) for faculty here at American University in Cairo, I thought I’d brainstorm the questions about TEL that I think might be important to address there…

First, I have huge issues with technological determinism (this issue keeps coming up a lot and was discussed in detail in #edcmooc) – you still often here ed tech discourse that view tech as a utopian magic bullet or a dystopian end of the world… I don’t know why people attribute so much power to the tech itself without critically looking at its uses. Even after an entire semester of trying to help my students lose that discourse, I continue to hear it. For faculty wanting to try blended learning, I hope they will not come into the course with a utopian view of what tech can do for them. My question is, how do we stay positive about the potential of the technology while remaining critical of its limitations and controversies, but do so with a group of ppl we want to encourage to give it a try? This relates to number 2 below

Second, in a place like Egypt, most upper middle class faculty and students have good enough
Internet connectivity to have a good online learning experience, but there are occasional electricity cuts (more so some days/months than others) – if I am going to help faculty explore different kinds of pedagogies they can do online, I should probably give them a chance to try both sync and asynchronous options (I have a strong preference for async). My concern is: I don’t want to be prescriptive about my pref for async given the circumstances, and I don’t want to give them illusions about synchronicity working either. Should I let them try it anyway as part of the course? I I do, should I hope it fails so they figure how badly it can go? Should we tell them stories?

Third, this is based on sthg Rebecca Hogue said at the Sloan-C conf: if you teach someone about a technology and tie it with a particular pedagogy they dislike, they will be turned off the technology. An interesting twitter response from Kris Shaffer was that the opposite is worse: if you teach someone about a pedagogy using a technology they dislike it may turn them off the pedagogy. And yet, I do not like teaching about tech without referring to pedagogical potential. So what is a good approach? It should not be a difficult question to answer, but it is to me at the moment

Fourth, and this question I suspect some people might have suggestions for. What kinds of pedagogy/technology combinations (can’t get away from this, see number 3) are essential for a prof dev course on blended learning? I keep thinking things like collaboration tools (disc forums, social media options), content tools (so like posting all sorts of materials and making videos if needed) plus expression and collaborative expression (e.g. Blogs, multimedia expression, wikis)

(A big part of the ending of this blog got deleted somehow, i have no idea how. Will search for it and see if i can dig it up)

But basically, i was saying I want to see if I can find ways of meeting the diverse needs of the faculty taking the course, given that what is “good” or “best” for each course depends a lot on context: the discipline, teacher’s style, student characteristics, etc.
Hoping to keep it flexible, try rhizomatic, and build community within the course that is sustainable beyond it and can support each other as they develop and run their courses.

Looking forward to seeing how #octel pans out

9 Comments

  1. Pingback: Set your goals, so that they may guide your path | ocTEL 2014

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