Digital Pedagogy: It’s Like Riding a Digital Bike

The saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike’ means you just don’t forget. Even if you don’t use a skill for a long time. You can pick it right back up. I can see that has truth to it, but it got me thinking about what it is actually like to learn to ride a bike.

It starts out with just about as much support as possible. A grown up literally supporting you, balancing you, giving you instant feedback and encouragement. And oh the rush of emotion when you actually do it on your own! Just a few months ago, I witnessed this happen. The boy shouting “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” as he rode away for the first time. It struck me that I witnessed an event that boy would probably remember for the rest of his life.

After that first time you ride away from your support person, what kind of ‘formal’ instruction do you really get or want in your bike riding skill acquisition program? Not much at all, really. Now it’s all about experiential learning. You learn from the crashes what not to do. You learn from exhilaration what to do. You try different bikes and they feel weird at first, but then you figure it out. You roll over new terrain shaky at first, but then you get used to it and enjoy the challenge.

I can remember most of the actual instructional events in my life to do with biking. Probably because they are so few and far between. Any formal tips or tricks for biking have been searched and sought out on my own here and there in magazines or from other cyclists and I have just been ‘experientially learning’ the rest of the way (the experientalliest learning being the year I spent as a bike courier.)

But I digress and lose sight of the point I haven’t yet made. So, to review what I’ve been trying to say: learning to ride a bike includes large amounts of start up support and then you’re mostly on your own.

I think that the bike-learning methodology is kind of what it’s like to wade into the digital world as an educator. You can find those opportunities for the start up support to get going, but from there you’re on your own to choose your path. Going into new systems is like trying out a new, different bike. WordPress might be your all purpose commuter and a flat-tired unicyle might be your Learning Management System. And like biking, you can get more out of it by adding some accessories (Slack, Twitter, etc) and joining a club or community (Virtually Connecting, #OpenLearning17, #ds106 etc.). Your friends are here to help, but it’s up to you to ride through new terrain and feel the wind blow your hair back. It’s great fun that you have to work for.

“Bike near campground First Landing State Park” flickr photo by vastateparksstaff https://flickr.com/photos/vastateparksstaff/33089545372 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

featured photo: “riding bikes” flickr photo by jonny.hunter https://flickr.com/photos/jonnyhunter/1043775061 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

 

A Spartan LMS

Spartans flickr photo by Masked Builder shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I am currently in an in-between phase of figuring out what is wrong with the traditional way we use Learning Management Systems and how to move along. Although I do like to refer to them as Learning Constrainment Systems. What would you put in a basic, spartan learning management system? You know, the things that are actually pedagogically helpful, but so you still end up with no bloat. The current LMS that I work with, which I do not desire to reveal at this time, has a huge whack of tools, most of which don’t get much use. What can an LMS do better than just a Domain of One’s Own system? What can we get rid of to finish with something more SPLOTy that would actually be really helpful? Is the ideal a combo package of the two? I’d like to know what people think.

I’m thinking, if anything, include in the LMS:

  • A class roster. Basically a tool to show which students are in which courses with which instructors.
  • A grade book with good feedback functionality
  • Assignment dropbox (where students submit links to the assignments actually housed in their own domains that they wish to submit for feedback). Possibly it could also be used for submitting sensitive type work that really shouldn’t be out on the Web.
  • A ‘journal’ type discussion thing for sensitive discussions that only certain people should be involved in like instructors or tutors with the students. Certain subjects like Counselling would find this more useful maybe.
  • A quiz tool (just a ‘grandfathered’ tool to get the masses to come there and then slowly make it fade away)

I’m thinking the things that should not be housed inside the LMS, but outside in the World Wild Web include:

  • Syllabus and week by week instructions for what is going on.
  • Assignment instructions. Ideally a place that allows students and others to also submit assignment ideas. Students are then able to choose the ones they want to do.
  • A central list of URLs to classmate’s domains
  • Any content delivery including instructional videos of talks with lecturers and guest speakers and slide decks, set up instructions, readings
  • Any live video chats or collaborative annotation exercises
  • Collaborative notes produced by students
  • Obviously all posts and pages students create for their domains (in a central flow as well as on individual domains)
  • A general discussion board.
  • A social media layer like Twitter for students to informally share and discuss things they are working on and connect throughout the course

Housing these tools outside the LMS invites openness, collaboration, riffing, remixing and generally (hopefully) bootstrapping everyone to a higher level of performance and creativity.

So, we’re left with 5 tools in the Spartan LMS (one of which has an expiry date) instead of the 42 in my current LMS. That means there are 37 tools I don’t really desire 2 use. 

So, do we need any of these LMS tools at all or should we leave the LMS to head off into the sunset? Throw out the bathwater, the baby and then smash the tub while we’re at it? I’d be interested to hear about anyone who uses both by choice (or if they have to). Comment below to let me know!

Sunset flickr photo by Jason O’Halloran shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Terry Greene

@greeneterry 

#DoOO #DoOO #DoOO Lookin Out Our Backdoor: Toward A Domain of One’s Own

backyard flickr photo by gagilas shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license Moving Toward a Domain of One’s Own

My wife takes our daughters out every day to Early Year Centres, the library or any other drop-in she can find. The girls can enjoy the crafts and songs and socializing with other kids and she can commiserate a little about the trials and tribulations of raising these little hurricanes. (Lucky hurricanes to have such a good mom who takes them to these hurricane meet-ups every day. She should have a business card with Storm Chaser as her title). One of the songs that’s invariably sung goes simply something like:

a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road

a rough road, a rough road, a rough road, a rough road

a windy road, a windy road, a windy road, a windy road

a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road

You have your kid(s) on your lap and you bump them up and down according to the lyrics. It’s fun and easy enough that I remember how to do it for the most part.

At my work, we’re on a road with similar varying conditions. One which I hope is leading us toward being a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) college. It’s baby steps, it’s not written down anywhere yet, and we don’t want to force it. But it’s one of them number one, ultimate goals. We don’t need to call it DoOO yet, for now it’s just “Hey! Blog a bit! Put your work out there! Have a look at your peers’ work!” To me, DoOO truly encapsulates all that online learning can and should be. It’s open, it’s human, it’s connected, it’s constructive. It’s not Internet bells and whistles so that a machine can teach you something and then tell you what you should do next. It’s sharing your take on something so that we can all scaffold off of each other. So we can understand each other. Choral explanations, in a sense.

It’s a smooth, windy, rough, bumpy, smooth road. It’s been a little windy lately so I wanted to write this down, for myself, to remind me that the journey is the best part. So today I’m just stopped, looking out the backdoor, and remembering to enjoy the journey. I hope we get there. it’s worth it regardless.

Now back to those hurricanes.

Something Brewing Out of #OpenEd16

I’m involved in a weekly blog that my department puts out for faculty. We provide short excerpts in set categories meant to give some tips and distill the things faculty need to know about our college. We try to put them out at the right time and in a bit of a ‘gateway drug’ format. As in, get a taste for the topic, get hooked, and click the links to learn more; go down the rabbit hole. Drugs are bad, mmkay, but they have a heck of an on-boarding process. We try to mimic that, but for good!

We call it the Teaching Hub. Here are the categories.

teac-hing-iconEngaging Teaching: A pedagogical skill. We try to enlist ‘guest speakers’ from faculty to provide these tips and examples for how you can use them.

tech-icon1Learning Technology: The default setting for ed-tech articles is to provide a list of no less than 60 new tools that you should feel bad for not using yet. We try to show one or two uses of one tool.

polci-iconPolicies & Procedures: This is where the timely thing comes in. For example, hey, it’s week 10, you might start to get some appeals… here’s how our appeals procedure works.

dept-iconCollege Departments: Every department does something for faculty so we pick one each week to show faculty exactly what that is. The bonus here is that we make up a fake department-competition-of-the-week like rap-battles, the ska battle of the bands and an extreme skipping 24 Hours of Adrenaline race. We then award a department member the championship. I think they feel strangely proud of their accomplishments when they win.

student-service-iconServices for Students: we’re hoping for trickle down with this one: Hey did you know your students have access to _____? Tell them about it! An example is our co-curricular record

pdiconProfessional Development: In this category we show a thing we think might be helpful, and also take suggestions from the audience like ‘Who’s Line Is It, Anyway’.

communicate-iconChatter: Here is where we round up any discussion from the previous week and bounce ideas around.

Why am I telling you this? Well, we think it’s been going well and it’s been a good way to reach a larger amount of our audience so maybe you want to try some of the ideas in your department?

But more importantly, and hence the title of this post, I wanted to report back to those involved in Open Ed about a project we plan to do. We are using Monday’s edition of the Teaching Hub as a call for help edition to ask for buy-in on the project. The idea came from #OpenEd16, specifically, Robin De Rosa’s (@actualham) Open Textbook Project which has inspired us to try something similar to create open faculty and student manuals for our college.

This link to our call for help edition is scheduled for Monday morning. So please sit where you are and wait until then to click this link: https://fleminglds.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/the-teaching-hub-post-12-week-11 or I can tweet it out again when it is live.

But in the meantime, if you’re so inclined, check out past episodes here

teacherhub122-1

And please, let me know if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions. Thanks for reading.