Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Expanding our Imagination

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ana Salter’s visit and her keynote, as well as side conversations with her and listening to her interact with students  all made me think of how we sometimes let what we know limit our Imagination of what might be possible

Her keynote on thinking beyond the screen was a strong reminder of how much electronic text is simply a representation of what could be done on paper w marginal additions – whereas we should embrace the possibilities the digital affords – and she went on to give examples from her Alice in Dataland work and ARG (Alternate or Augmented Reality Games).

And then Simon Ensor’s passionate and critical post yday critiquing traditional forms of academic discourse to represent complex human experience – one of the best articles on the subject, on par with Beyond Rigor. Or better, even. Simon says:

How might we fairly represent the messiness of learning?

In whose interests do we reduce such mess into order?

Read the post, it is incredible and Simon at better than his best

Simon’s post was refreshing after i just struggled to write 2 collaborative autoethnographic papers for a traditional journal that has a 6,000 word limit. Never again, I say! Non-traditional forms of research that attempt to represent experience in more complex ways deserve space to be represented non-traditionally. The struggle is to get this “accepted” as scholarship but i know what Simon would say to that ๐Ÿ™‚ I also tap on this in my latest column at hybridped on

inner voice, Criticality and empathy

And then on a smaller scale yday at an ELI course webinar Rena Paloff talked about how online exams should be designed to be open book. It sounded so obvious once she said it that I wondered why people didn’t already realize it more often. Then she added another good point: that looking info up quickly is in itself a skill people need beyond college.

I remember again Ana talking to one of my former students explaining to him how the assessment of who wins in a game needs to be smooth and in the spirit of the game, not about competition and measuring but to be authentic in its assessment (it is a great game but yeah their criteria for who wins was tedious – like a long and complicated rubric that loses the essence of learning).

Then Ana and John giving us feedback on our faculty development game and how to take it beyond simple questions on tech and ped readiness and into including challenges of how to deal w certain pedagogical dilemmas or to have a set of limited resources so they may judge critically how to utilize them. She helped us think beyond our initial perspective on how this game can be played. I hope to write more about it once it’s better developed. Soon ๐Ÿ™‚ inshallah

This all reminded me of a conversation i had with a younger cousins many years ago. She was just learning addition, and i was 4 years older, so maybe learning fractions or decimals or long division. We were playing math teacher and she wanted to pretend she was teaching older kids. So she assigns them addition problems. And i tell her “they’re too old for that ” and she goes “but they will be adding in the millions!” – her limited horizons could only imagine incremental changes to what she knows. She cannot see other possibilities or dimensions

Academia does that to us, disciplines discipline us into boxes and we stop seeing the world properly because we limit the lenses we use to engage with it and communciate with each other

It’s time to have this conversation more often and in more ways

What’s your take? Check out Hybrid Pedagogy’s CfP on the scholarly and the digital – definitely some good starting questions there.

One Comment

  1. Hi Maha, thanks for reading the blog post.

    I am interested in pulling to bits this idea of rigor.

    I keep getting the expression ‘rigor mortis’ distracting my dissection of the concept. It’s a very annoying interference.

    I am interested in what ‘scholarship’ might mean and what ‘scholarship’ does mean and what ‘scholarship’ did mean.

    I have an initial impression that the people involved in hybrid pedagogy are moving in the right direction and are asking the right questions as far as ‘scholarship’ is concerned.

    I view traditional ‘academic’ writing as of interest as a) a fun game b) a means to meet people c) as intellectual stimulation d) as a strategic tool

    There are all sorts of problems with it.

    I see no interest in it if it is not used as a transformative tool.

    In order for it to be a transformative tool, it, itself, must be transformed.

    As for blogging I just respect an urge to write.

    It frees me for moments so I can more easily accept the boundaries of ‘academic rigor’ when the mood takes me.

    I suppose for me that research is in both the process of writing/of creation and in the ongoing reflection on what emerges.

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