Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Zen of Teaching - Clarifying the Myths Around Teaching, Learning and Technology

Today's #change11 session was presented by Antonio Vantaggiato, Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, San Juan, Puerto Rico. His complete presentation, with videos, is here.

In listing and discussing the myths around teaching, learning and technology, Vantaggiato hopes to clarify the issues - since "such myths tend to confuse teachers, researchers and students."

This aim was achieved for me, the discussion of each myth helped me clarify in my mind the issues. Fundamentally, shortcomings of language (in how they describe concepts and ideas, and how these interrelate) do not help to form a coherent argument of where we are or where we are going.

The story is told in this way, in myths [explanations in square brackets]:
  • Learning happens in the classroom, because we deliver instruction. So we lecture.
  • Ergo, identify the correct method together with the right content and the right teacher and: LEARNING HAPPENS! [Without studying and without responsibility upon the student]
  • Subsequently "learning" can be assessed by a test, perhaps standardised.
  • What do we test? We need to have "content". [But content leads to a consumption process, the faculty member is a content provider, the classroom hierarchical and the learning is closed - Luke Waltzer]
  • We can deliver this in a LMS. [But Gardner Campbell writes that we should shut down the LMSs and have "understanding augmentation networks" - moving away from educational assembly lines towards intellectual ecosystems of interest and curiosity]
  • Technology has us in the shallows - Google is making us stupid.
  • Death of the book. [Will evolve into other formats]
  • Death of an industry. [Industry should adapt, change; big publishers behaving like monopolies, seeing the resurgence of this into digimedia, looking to package and control, against our open web principles; Wikipedia did not kill Britannica, Windows did]
  • Teachers can be replaced by machines. [Actually a change of role]
  • Technology in the curriculum. [Always have had technology in the curriculum - language, paper, pencil, book, blackboard; is online learning more or less effective than learning in a classroom? George Siemens: "who cares" - the question is irrelevant]
  • Don't need internet, twitter, whatever - turn off these devices for successful learning.
  • Need STEM. [Actually need STEAM, include the Arts, Liberal Arts]
  • Labels help us in what we are talking about. [e-learning, virtual learning, mobile learning labels do not mean much, are not helping to get beyond those narrow definitions]
So if these are the myths - what helps us establish what learning is?

Learning is ...
  • Sense making.
  • Learners should experience chaos and confusion
  • Teach to think deeply
  • Teach to think rigorously
  • Autonomy is key - in control of their own learning
  • Connections
  • Navigations
  • Openness
The presentation ended on MOOCs, to everyone's delight.

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