Friday, October 11, 2013

Time to make sense of the chaos

Response to Weeks 3 & 4

I've been busy working on another project but happily all things have been interconnected, and so I have been applying and thinking about a lot of the topics we’ve been looking at. I’ve gone through the Community Wall and added a response here and there.  My head continues to spin with all of the materials and postings in the course. I worry that I wont be able to do it all justice, and that time is running out. In spite all this, it has been great to be part of this MOOC. The different perspectives, insights, and experiences shared make me feel that I’ve been a part of something very special! 
We’re near the end and I still have to create my Week 5 activity and final reflection to go for that badge [it will be my first!] So here is a combined response for Weeks 3 & 4...

Wk 3: Create Community: Connect Learners with Each Other 
COI Model - appreciated the review and the discussion helped to embed it more in my mind and also gave me some good examples for each dimension

4 Levels of Interaction
-> Teacher; -> Learners; -> Content; -> Learning Environment interface

Interactive Discussions - lots of food for thought, great ideas, and exemplars

Wk 4: Create a Natural Critical Learning Environment
Bain – What Makes Teachers Great
Hook -> intriguing question or problem
Buy In -> students understand the significance
Self-Directed -> students solve problem or question
Get their attention and keep it
Start with students
Get commitment
Be available out of class
Interdisciplinary approach - real world

Sinek TED Talk
- Not about the WHAT but WHY [beliefs]
- Those who lead inspire and encourage others to follow for their own beliefs

Elder: Taking Ownership Through Thinking
- Content = Thinking
- Help students to understand a discipline using the thinking structures within that discipline

Wilson (2002) 4 Critical Questioning Strategies
- Convergent: Blooms lower levels; CFU
- Divergent: Blooms upper; discussion forums
- Evaluative: Blooms upper cognitive & affective
- Socratic: best strategy for promoting critical thinking

I am constantly struck by how familiar I am with many of the concepts introduced in this course, as well as how many connect to the learning theories and principles I teach in Ed Psych. But then that leads me to TWO questions:

Q1. If we know all of these things why aren't we all amazing teachers? This is similar to the point that bmcpherson makes “However, if becoming an outstanding teacher merely entails implementing recommended best practices, then there would be many more outstanding teachers than there currently are. Clearly, there are good and bad (or more and less effective) ways to implement these practices. There seem to be things that cannot simply be borrowed, copied, or plugged into courses. I am wondering what are these less tangible attributes that are the essential characteristics of the best teachers.” in his post Given the differences between teaching face to face… 

This got me thinking about what I call, in my comment to his post, the recipe approach. We are all looking for those elements that will make us great teachers – that’s why we’re taking this MOOC right? – but what I am starting to think is: a) having all the right ingredients doesn’t necessarily result in the ability to make an outstanding cake – there is something that each individual instructor brings to a course that is unique; and b) do we really all want to be making the same cake anyway?  I think that’s why the Sinek video on focusing on the WHY – our beliefs and passions – and not on the WHAT –  outcomes, something our educational system seems to thrive on – really resonated with me. Yes we need to be student-centric, but we also need to start with ourselves, our passions and our beliefs. Maybe that's the difference?

Q2. Of all of the things we have talked about in this course, how much is really only applicable to online teaching? As I’ve been reading the materials I find I’m constantly saying to myself, “Well that's just good teaching!” Clearly there are some things – like developing technology skills – that are paramount for successful online teaching. But I keep asking this question, "What really is the difference between good F2F and OL teaching?"

I'm at the point where I need to sort through the reams of notes, synthesize, and process to make sense of it all. I’m feeling like it’s time to transition out of the random sampling I've been doing and into pulling things together into some sort of coherent framework. That sounds quite traditional and academic, but that's the only way I know how to sense out of the chaos - make connections, look for some patterns [so that, as in the image, I can distinguish what's camouflaged]. And then knowing me, I'll probably try to turn that into some sort of visual summary.

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