After over a decade being a university student and three degrees later, I still enjoy a good class. Currently I am learning about blogs, tweets, online presence… in Heather Ross’s (@mctoonish) exciting Introduction to Learning Technologies at the University of Saskatchewan.
Why? My Four Reasons:
- Because I don’t have time: Kind of counterintuitive but taking a course allows me to carve out time to learn. When in the Cult of Busy, it can be hard to “justify” taking 30 minutes to read about copyright and creative commons despite working everyday with materials. Now I can break free & focus on what I want to learn…or failing the escape I have an excuse that my readings are “due”.
- To respect my colleagues more: We all have our specialities, our own domains of knowledge and skills. Mine are assessment and baking with chocolate. While I like learning what other people find exciting, sometimes all I have is only what I need-to-know including who knows how to book rooms, who has great resources about large classrooms, who can get Blackboard Learn to work…Heather in MHO (my humble opinion) knows lots about anything online (and she is in the office next to where I work) and even managed to teach me to blog. This course offers a chance to see her in her element and to be amazed!
- Good to feel like a novice on occasion: Sometimes it is too easy to forget what it was like to be unsure, confused, and unsettled. After years involved in tutoring, TAing and otherwise teaching basic math and statistics, I truly believe that every person can “do math” with feedback, clarification and practice. In other words noone is “bad at math” they are just struggling right now. Mid-PhD I was challenged to lived those words – I was invited to a recreational choir in our Faculty led by a choir director/graduate student. My first response was “not me. I can’t sing…” – sound familiar (just replace “sing” with “do math”). But I joined, watched what others did, tried to figure out terminology and when that all failed I just plain asked. In the end I could sing, not an undiscovered virtuoso but a learner. So this time I and my ITL classmates are in many ways tackling the myth “It is impossible to keep up with technology” and cross-training together.
- Flexibility: Being a student means doing the learner – somehow somewhere. It started as a bit of a joke that I learned quickly to write a blog well because I followed a rubric (created by Heather) due to many years as a “good” student. While it is true that through countless courses I eventually honed an ability to identify what will be recognized and rewarded, I also came to recognize my own intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and adapt my learning accordingly. I can choose to read some pieces quickly (or play videos at 1.5 speed) when the material is peripheral or already familiar, yet savour other pieces. In an open course such flexibility is built in – you can learn anywhere including on a beach…know any close by without snow?
In short, I want to learn as a novice about online teaching from a respected colleague on my own timeline (with the excuse of a deadline). How about you?
Interesting post. As a math teacher, I agree with the idea that “no one is bad at math”. Although, I saw a lot of struggling students, I think each and every one of them could succeed with the right conditions. I can think of a few students who seemed to flourish in my classroom by taking a different approach than they previously experienced (and I can think of the opposite too).
You piece about joining choir made me think of the book I just got from the library yesterday, Guitar Zero (http://www.amazon.ca/Guitar-Zero-Science-Becoming-Musical/dp/0143122789). I’ll let you know if it is interesting or not.
Sounds like you are on the anyone could learn something given the right conditions (though what conditions are “right” is another conversation).
Musicality and numeracy, and perhaps athleticism, are indeed skills that are assumed to be an individual quality, where a person is “good” or “bad” at it rather than seeing themselves as still learning or needing more effort. If we assume we are simply “bad” at something we won’t expend effort to learn because no amount of effort by us or others would make us “good.”
Given your choice in book, I’ll bet that you believe such effort to learn matters!
All the best,