Don’t Tell Me What the Learners Are Doing

I want to hear it from them.

The Open Faculty Patchbook is an ongoing collection of stories by post-secondary educators about their teaching. It was meant to serve as a community collaboration of how-to-teach tips and tricks that can be patched together to form a sort of manual on how to teach.

What it became, however, was a bit different than that. It is a book and it is about teaching. There are a lot of great ideas on how to go about your teaching. That is for sure. There are some gaps. But what it is more than anything, I think, is an warm invitation to enter the community of open educators. The Patchbook itself got a number of educators to write about their teaching. Often for the very first time. It got them to think about their teaching and to think about sharing their teaching. And by putting it out there it has lead a few more to write about their teaching, adding new voices to the world of open educational practices. That is what has excited me the most about The Open Faculty Patchbook. We’ve only scratched the surface. There’s much more to hear.

What excites me even more, however, is that there is another, bigger surface to scratch: The learners. I’d wager that when you teach a course of 30 learners, the content is learned in 30 ways, despite your teaching methods.

I want to hear their stories. I want to see them writing those stories. I want to see that learners are thinking about how they learn.

So, I’m putting myself back to that moment with The Open Faculty Patchbook where we had the idea and were looking for a starting line. Jodie Black from Fleming College provided it by pointing us to the University of Michigan’s High Leverage Teaching Practices. That list of practices provided faculty with a nugget to build their story around. If they wanted, they could claim a skill and write about how they used it in their own teaching. Many ignored this list completely, with wonderful results. But it certainly helped get the ball rolling.

What is the learning skill version of that list? How and where shall we ask learners to share their learning? It’s already begun in Cairo.

Don’t tell us what the learners are doing. Don’t tell us what we think they should be doing. Help us get them thinking, speaking and writing about what they do to learn. Comment below with any links or suggestions you may have about finding and collecting these voices.

p.s. For non-Canadians. This song inspired the title of this post. 

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

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