I attended and wrote about four professional development events this week.
And I gave a keynote at the Solstice Conference at Edge Hill University on 5 June 2014. Slides are here.
In this post I begin to instrumentalise my synthesis of critical educational development points, which I suggest are underpinned by and support the themes (possibly threshold concepts) that emerged from the events above. There is strong empirical evidence for the benefits of dialogic: epistemic and suggestive feedback. Deliberative reflection arises from and is a skill for distributed collaboration. Peer writing, co-authoring towards shared understanding, is participatory, dialogic, epistemic and may be suggestive. Through interior dialogue and the essentially dialogic nature of literacies we have dialogue with the past: teachers, writers, memories, culture. Curricula, too, are participatory, evaluative, dialogic, social and self-determined. The convener, participants and curriculum are in tension in an environment of ambiguity, concern, community, power and politics. Methodologically, critical ethnographies provide the essential richer picture and learning needs stewardship (“teachers”).
I use a problem-posing, critical-interpretive framework: asking questions that arise. This could be a semi-structured interview guide, an evaluation checklist or a design tool. I am making a card-sort and conversation menu learning activity from this. Such an activity can be used to group people semi randomly and initiate discussion leading to shared, authentic, practice-based examples that can be creatively appropriated into other contexts.
In each section that follows, I state the principle and then pose the questions, mostly in a “How do you …” style; “Have you considered …?”
Learning is active
Learning is active, an aggregation of multiple individual and unique actions and interactions of people with knowledge, tools and contexts. How do you:
- incorporate activity into any learning design?
- decide what activity is useful?
- engage “micro” activity patterns (e.g. 20 minute cycles) with wider (session, course, life-course) activity patterns?
- select appropriate tools?
- use frameworks (approaches, templates, learning plans, etc.) to support activity design and implementation?
Learning is dialogic
Learning is dialogic: individuals share, negotiate, discuss and contend with texts (multimedia), self and others (peers, hierarchies). How do you:
- facilitate conversation and collaboration with and between students (student-tutor and student-student contact) face-to-face or at distance; one-to-one and in groups?
- develop academic discourse (multimedia/multimodal, writing/producing) and give feedback for learning in all modes?
- encourage interior dialogue?
People are different
People are different (diverse identities) in many ways: demographically (age, sex, national origin, etc), as well as culturally and epistemologically (education tradition, world view, doer/reflector, multiple intelligence, multiliteracy, learning preferences, etc). How do you accommodate learner and learning diversity?
- Demographic (legal, language, social, accessible)?
- Epistemological (orientation to knowledge and learning)?
- Identity and community?
- Goal orientation?
Learning is experiential
Learning is experiential, it draws on everyone’s experience. How do you incorporate:
- Work-based learning?
- Life-wide learning?
Learning is reflective
Learning is reflective. Reflection happens in cycles (dialogue with self and others): student life-cycles, action learning cycles, assessment and feedback cycles. How do you:
- Incorporate reflection, individually and in groups (professional, academic, ad hoc)?
- Help students have a voice for their experience and outcomes?
- Acquire peer and colleague contribution and feedback?
- Include practice and theory?
Learning takes place in communities
Learning takes place in communities or groups of people (institutions, disciplines), settings (classrooms, work-places, online, etc) have community development aspects where there are roles (teacher, student, admin), and rules (tacit and explicit). How do you:
- involve prior learners, disciplinary colleagues and trans-disciplinarity in programmes of study?
- Incorporate wider notions of identity and citizenship, and shared (or examined) values?
- Include core texts and narratives of the community of inquiry?
- Develop role-based competencies?
Learning is participatory
Learning is participatory: Everyone is learning. How do you:
- Encourage differential participation: peripheral, core, guest, “lurker”?
- Acknowledge your own and your students’ memory, feelings and opinions?
- Ensure authenticity to learners points of origin, disciplinary knowledge base, and practice as it is in the field?
Learning is outcomes-led
Learning is outcomes-led. There are curricula (No curriculum is a curriculum.) Many curricula are underpinned by wider professional and regulatory frameworks codified in law and customary practice. Outcomes are assessed and evaluated, often by other agencies. There may, of course be many “unintended outcomes”, many of which may well be beneficial, though not necessarily expressed in the curriculum. How do you:
- Refer to benchmarks and standards; codes of practice?
- Assess your learners?
- Engage learners with criteria?
- Develop communities of assessment practice?