Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reading & Learning

Reading and writing – and learning, always learning! Keeping up with literature and scholarly thought in one’s area is an important part of doing research and writing about that area. During my quickly dwindling sabbatical I had goals of doing both, and I have to an extent. I have a number of books and articles in my reading pile, and while I would like to do more, I read when I can. I also like to read a novel, usually just before bedtime as a way to relax and escape: mostly mystery thrillers or science fiction. Keeping up with blog posts, research articles, and books can take lots of time, since reflection and thinking is also part of the process.

This week has been a good one for reading that has provoked thinking. Here are a few of those ideas.

One book I am reading now is by my friend George Couros. George has skyped in to several of my classes over the years, and he is always thought provoking and interesting, so I delved into his book The Innovator’s MindsetIn a chapter I recently read, George talks about engagement and empowerment. He discussed how we have dwelt on the idea of engagement, but less so on empowerment. George makes the case that teachers should not only engage students, but also engage them by empowering them. One way we can do that is by extending trust, something I wrote about in my article in HybridPedagogy.  So, when we talk about engagement, perhaps the best way to do that through the empowerment of learners.

A few days ago I came across a brilliant article/post by Bonnie Stewart about the Internet as a hybrid “third place/space”. Bonnie always provokes thinking and writes so well, and this article was no exception. Bonnie writes, “the dominant narrative tends more towards essentializing the face-to-face and reducing the digital to instrumental, task-based impersonality, rather than recognizing it as a human space with all the potential – educative and destructive, both – that that implies.  This was a great read and an interesting exploration of the Internet as a place for connecting, meeting, and learning with others.

Anotherpost, this one by Dave Cormier (coincidentally, Bonnie’s husband), was about resilience as related to the idea of rhizomatic learning. One thing that I found interesting, perhaps because of talk about course syllabi and outcomes in my faculty, was “learning subjectives”, rather than objectives. When talking about subjectives, Cormier asks, how can we “design for learning when we don’t know where we are going?” Interesting to think about, I wonder if outcomes  (if we will have to have them in our syllabi) can be stated in such a way to become learning subjectives? I will have to attempt to include learning subjectives in my syllabi, especially since I do think our learning should take us into uncharted territory. The ideas about rhizomatic learning dovetail nicely with some of the ideas in this post, by Jeff Noonan (that I had put into ‘pocket’ awhile back) that argues against outcomes in higher education.

Lots to think about. It is great to be able to learn by roaming about this ‘third space’ and explore new thoughts and ideas, and the great thing is that most of these posts contain links to other good stuff to read and reflect on.

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